How Blending Online and In-Store Shopping Can Create More Meaningful Experiences For Customers

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Though the rise in online shopping offers benefits for brands and consumers alike, it often leaves businesses wondering if there is any point in offering in person shopping when we live in such a digital era. While the concern is understandable, in-store shopping will always have a place in our society. There’s a culture that exists around this type of shopping that cannot be replaced, no matter how tech-savvy online shopping becomes. 

However, the real power lies in offering both online and in person shopping experiences. Brands that master the combination of these experiences are the ones that will pull ahead in the future. Proving that versatility, adaptability, and following trends don’t mean letting go of the past, retailers have begun to bring innovation to the shopper’s experience, offering the best of both worlds.

Benefits of Online Shopping

We’ve all experienced the absolute wonder that comes with deciding you need a new set of bowls, clicking a few times on your phone, and having them show up at your doorstep in a number of days – sometimes hours! Online shopping offers unmatched convenience, along with many other benefits. When the first online shopping purchase was made in 1994, no one could have predicted how it would sweep the globe just a couple of decades later, let’s get a deeper understanding of why customers shop online: 

Easy as 1, 2, 3,

Sifting through pages and pages of blouses from your couch is a lot easier and less stressful than heading over to a department store, tearing through unorganized displays, and trying on shirt after shirt in a stuffy dressing room. Online shopping has made the whole experience relatively hassle-free and so easy that young children are notorious for ordering toys off of their parents’ cell phones without notice. Society as a whole has adopted online shopping with open arms because it offers convenience for shoppers and retailers that is hard to find in in-person settings.

Accommodates The Busiest Schedules

Stopping by the store after a long day at work or spending one of your days off at the mall doesn’t always seem appealing. With online shopping, you can take care of what you need to during a lunch break, leaving enough time for you to relax when you’re not at work. We’ve centered society around “business hours,” and many organizations operate during those times, making it hard for employees that work during business hours to make it to retailers that are closed after that timeframe. With online shopping, daily schedules are less of a concern, enabling more and more people to get the products they want without spending their hard-earned time shopping.


There’s nothing like a global pandemic to remind shoppers how nice it is to be able to avoid human interaction when they need something. Not only does contactless shopping increase health and safety standards across the board, but it allows those with social anxiety or other medical issues to shop for products that might not be available to them otherwise. There are a number of reasons that contactless shopping is a major perk, but people love it even when they don’t need it.

Buyer-Centric Competition

Price matching can be difficult for in-person shoppers. Bringing an advertisement to your local grocery store to let them know that the store down the block has meat for half the price isn’t as cut-and-dry as pointing out to an online retailer that their products aren’t matching the market. Shoppers can find products within their budget no matter what they’re looking for, all from the comfort of their own homes. 

Benefits of Brick-and-Mortar Stores

On the flip side, walking into a store and finding the perfect product, or having your curiosity piqued by something you saw in the window, are difficult to recreate in an online setting. There are shoppers who love wandering around the supermarket, getting inspiration for their meals based on what produce looks the best. Shopping in-store offers a different experience than online shopping, with benefits such as:

Access to Immediate Help

Being able to ask a question about the quality or use cases for a specific product is one of the top benefits of brick-and-mortar shopping. Many consumers don’t know the details about technology products or home improvement products and will require some support from a staff member. This support, though possible online through chat windows, is much easier and often more helpful in person.

Easy Return Process

Instead of having to print out a return label, package up a product that didn’t fit or wasn’t what was expected, and send it back, customers can drop the product off right where they got it. A 10-minute drive to the store is often considered less hassle than having to deal with the online returns process at various retailers. 

Caters to the Senses

Touching, feeling, and even smelling certain products before buying them simply cannot be replicated online. It is only face-to-face shopping that allows buyers to see the true color of a product, feel the softness of its fabric, or see the thickness of the material it’s made from. Shopping is a sensory-rich experience that gets lost when it’s done online. 

Exclusive Discounts

Stores often offer exclusive discounts as a way to draw more customers in. There may be excess inventory, seasonal changes, or other reasons for these discounts, but offering pop-up sales online is much more difficult to do.

Best of Both Worlds

By creatively combining online and in-person shopping experiences, retailers can cater to the needs of every customer, reap the benefits of both approaches, and create the ultimate retail experience. The rise of online shopping doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar stores are disappearing, in fact, online shopping is a great reminder to many customers as to why they prefer physical shopping experiences more.

Curbside pickup, digital checkout, and digital tools inside the store are all great ways to incorporate both approaches within one brand. With the power of blending both methods of shopping, retailers will be unstoppable. 

Making it Work For Your Store

No matter what you offer as a retailer, the team at SPC Retail® can help bring your dreams to life. With our free layout and design consultation through our Design Lab Team, we can show you how to perfectly blend brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences to propel the success of your store. We have all you need for retail displays and our team cannot wait to help bring your vision to life!

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