E-commerce Vs Retail: Which should I choose?

 What’s the difference between e-commerce and retail? Are there more benefits with one than the other? Have you ever asked yourself either of these questions? Businesses have seen success in both industries like eBay, Amazon, and Wal-Mart, and choosing to move into one or the other can be difficult. Today, we will look at how e-commerce and retail compare and how businesses can move from one to the other. 

    Let’s start by defining each of these. E-commerce is the activity of electronically buying or selling products and online services over the Internet. Retail is the sales of goods sold from a single point, including malls, supermarkets, and department stores, to the consumer in a small quantity. 

    Now, let’s examine each of these closer and see how the two compare.


Interaction with the Product.

  • Retail: A customer can physically interact with the product at a retail store and make sure it is what they are looking for. 
  • E-Commerce: With e-commerce, customers have to rely on pictures and product descriptions, and customer reviews to determine if the product is right for them. 

Obtaining the Product.

  • Retail: Here’s an obvious difference. When you purchase a product from a retail store or supermarket, short of a few exceptions, you take it home with you when you leave. There’s no waiting or wondering where it’s coming from unless it’s being sent from another store or a warehouse to your home. 
  • E-Commerce: When purchasing products from online retailers, customers must adhere to their shipping options and rates. Now some offer expedited shipping for a higher rate or a monthly subscription like Amazon Prime.

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Product Availability.

  • Retail: When you go into a retail store as a consumer, there’s no guarantee that the desired product will be sitting there waiting for you. Customers have to take the chance that their time and effort spent going to the store won’t be wasted (unless they choose to call and ask first.) 
  • E-Commerce: On the other hand, online shopping and e-commerce sites make it easy for customers to see product availability or recommended products if the desired item is currently unavailable. E-commerce can also help you a purchase decision with urgency if the desired product has limited availability. 

Ability to Shop. 

  • Retail: When you’re shopping in a brick and mortar retail store, then you have to abide by their hours of operation. You don’t always have the luxury of taking the time to search for the ideal product. 
  • E-Commerce: No walls, no sales associates, no electric bill, so to speak, e-commerce sites allow you to shop for products day and night, round the clock. If you get an inkling to buy SURGE soda at 3 AM, go for it because the Internet doesn’t have business hours. 

Getting Your Products Moved:

  • Retail: It is not easy to move your products into retail stores if you previously sold them on an e-commerce site. It can be a beneficial transition like with clothing. Having a retail space or selling in a physical marketplace would allow customers to try out items before buying them and increase brand trust. A more straightforward way to move your products into retail is to start pop-ups stores and spread awareness about your business without going through the process of a physical store. 
  • E-Commerce: Moving products in the opposite direction has its advantages and disadvantages as well. Creating an e-commerce site for selling products can be a great way to increase your audience volume and give customers access to your products at any time. Moving into e-commerce requires having a site where customers can purchase products and have a social media presence to spread brand awareness. With e-commerce, you also need to have an established shipping service. Most e-commerce stores will either provide in-house shipping or will use a third-party plugin shipping solution. 


   There are pros and cons to being in retail, just like with e-commerce, the likes of which can be seen regarding Etsy in another article. However, the trade-offs for customers are what will make all the difference in your business’s success. 

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