Shop online or offline?

Creative Commons License photo credit: macieklew

Had an interesting debate over lunch yesterday while in a Twestival planning session, about the different between shopping online, or buying things over the web. You see, you can always find a good deal online, but if you’re really after service, nothing really beats walking into a shop and getting an expert opinion. The key thing, of course, is that the shop needs be staffed by an expert, someone who really knows what they’re doing and knows their way around the products they are selling.

Shopping online always has the advantage of price. The costs of running an online operation will always be lower than running a bricks and mortar operation. And you can knock q few quid off the price of your purchase using a service like, a website that gives you discount codes to a number of popular websites. You can easily knock 10% to 20% off the online price of an item in this way. And when you consider online prices can be 20% cheaper than going to a store, you can see the attraction.

The knock on effect is that retailers need to start factoring this in, stop trying to compete on price alone and up the ante; providing critical services that cannot be replicated online. The question is, how many retailers really get it?


  1. Totally agree, some retailers just don’t get how important customer service is when there’s so much more choice & cheaper online. I recently went to a shop on the island selling car products and when i got to the till a few of the items didn’t scan and for each one the cashier tutted and sighed (not in jokey way but in a you have made me do more work way) because of the extra few seconds it would take to key in, so next time I will get the same products cheaper online, their loss!

  2. You need to balance it off with other experiences though. @sherrilynne was talking about how she wanted to buy a gift, walked into a shop and needed guidance about “what’s hot”. Sales rep provided expert opinion and she was happy to spend the money there and there.

    We need more of that sort of experience.

  3. Oh you are so right about customer service. It’s worth the drive, the time, and perhaps the extra money to get to the shop and have someone treat you and your purchase seriously and respectfully.

    In Europe, they get that, and the shops are very faithful to their customers.

    Here, you are lucky to find someone who you can even ask a question to, let alone buy from.

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