A Comparison of Online and Offline
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Consumers may both use online and offline for shopping depending on their preferences at a particular moment. It is extremely vital to understand the consumer behavior for the success of any business, be it online or offline. Online and offline are decided by the customers on the basis of the user acceptance, usefulness, attitude and intention to use. Consumers drive the online shopping which is a recent phenomenon in the Indian context backed by the increasing penetration of internet in the market.
It has been observed that internet experience moderates the relationship between the relative benefit and consumer’s intention to transfer usage from offline to online services. Brand name, is more important online than offline as people have trusts registered on their minds and they become brand loyal. In this scenario, consumers are less price sensitive and more brand loyal. There are many other factors which contribute towards online preference firstly, variety, an online store is a customer’s delight, no offline store can offer as much variety as an online store across all the product categories.
The large variety gives consumers vast choice which was not available before online came into picture. Secondly, consumer review, this helps the prospective customers to learn about the performance of the products before they take the decision to make purchases. Thirdly, comparison, it is not possible to travel all the stores physically from one store to another but online shopping gives the ease of comparing also. Fourthly, availability of unique products, in telecom and technology sector it has become a norm to launch their brand new electronic devices online, on a particular shopping portal. But that does not mean that offline shopping as offline still has many drawbacks over and above online like that of firstly, delivery of products, there is considerable amount of time lag between placing the orders and delivery of products which at times can extend upto few weeks. Secondly, return of products, offline shop customers actually visit the respective stores physically to return the products or exchange if not satisfied but online customers still are found dependent on the company to take the product back. Thirdly, shopping experience, as shopping is not only about just purchasing the product but in country like India it is a whole process of outing with the family on weekends.
The trend of online shopping has no doubt hit the offline stores on account of the discounts available online, huge amount of venture capital and private equity funds and no cost on tangible shops, cutting down heavy real estate expenditures. Despite the fact that online is gaining momentum these days, the majority of people still prefers offline shopping, also called brick and mortar shops.