Online Shops vs Brick and Mortar Stores: Who's the Winner

Peter Martinez updated on 2020-09-25 17:19:49

The Internet has revolutionized the way we used to shop. Not that traditional brick and mortar stores are completely disappeared or at a verge of it but the way online shops are emerging within the retail industry, they have the potential to give tough competition.

Both online and brick and mortar stores are categorized under the umbrella of retail business - ultimately for shoppers, they both are a medium to shop.

But while they both have a similar core business, their way of doing business is not. So if you are looking to open an online shop or physical store for that matter, you must understand what will be coming your way.

online shops

Source: pixabay

Let's get right into comparison.


There is a likelihood that one might consider online shops and brick and mortar stores the same because both involve strategies which are required to move products. But how they are being sold is different.

best online shops

Source: pixabay

In online stores, you do not necessarily have to include a physical store, especially on your initial phases. Instead, you can use the drop-shipping model, and whenever you receive the order, you can place that order with your supplier – and supplier will pack and ship the items on your behalf. All you need is a well-designed website with product details and a virtual shopping cart. Also, if your selling digital products, that is an entirely different story. Digital products as the name suggests involves digital mediums, so location is not even a concern in this product line.

Whereas in a brick-and-mortar business, physical location is what makes it unique from the eCommerce model. These businesses either can have a single outlet or multiple stores, depending upon how big their business is.

Due to the growth potential in eCommerce, many brick and mortar businesses are also looking to create online shop to maximize their profits and to give their customers the best shopping experience.

Payment Transactions

Where brick and mortar stores accept cash, cheques and credit cards, online stores allow its users to make payment by PayPal, Apple Pay, Credit and Debit cards.

So, both sides are flexible when we talk about payment transactions. But in the eCommerce model, you can not use your hard cash.

create online shop

Source: pixabay

Omnichannel approach

Large stores can connect with their shopper in multiple ways – they can reach out to them by SMS, email, their website and with a customer service representative on a call.

But small physical stores are often unable to use that approach which large physical stores take to connect with their customers.

And, online stores can make a customer connection by website, social media, mobile apps, phone and chat.

how to start an online shop

Source: pixabay


Brick and mortar businesses use the traditional way of marketing. They mostly rely on television, radio, billboards and newspapers. In contrast, best online shops owners make sure that they use all the marketing techniques to promote their businesses. They use traditional as well as new digital ways of marketing. However, for online stores, traditional marketing is not much useful - so they mostly rely on digital platforms for that matter. Digital platform gives you the benefit of retargeting, so it is one of the cheapest and effective ways to tell your brand story.

open an online shop

Source: pixabay

Having a physical store gives you this advantage that nearby people will get to see your shop whenever they pass by. Whereas in the eCommerce model, many of those people will not have an idea that you have opened a store. It gives an edge to brick and mortar stores in terms of marketing - it is happening on its own.

Butt nowadays both brick and mortar and online stores are trying to make full use of all kind of marketing tactics.

Customers Interaction and Servicing

Brick and mortar have an advantage that through this model, one can provide better customer services as the customer will be interacting in person. Whereas in online store, customers may like some personalized attention which is quite not possible.

In online stores, the customer may abandon a cart because of having questions that are not being answered abruptly. But in physical stores, there is a better chance to interact with your customers in such a way that it motivates them to make a purchase.

free online store

Source: pixabay

Furthermore, in physical stores, people can only visit for certain working hours if your store is not 24*7 opened. Whereas in online stores, there is not any time factor involved. One can shop whenever they want without the stress of thinking about shop opening and closing hours

Also, customers like to talk to someone in person as compared to an unknown entity through a chatbox.

Operating Expense

You might think that online shops could be a much cheaper option as you can always use free online store builder for your website and get free hosting to make it work. But it not always the case!

Return and shipping expenses can make it difficult to stay profitable at times. Also, if your competitors are excelling in their marketing strategies, they can attract your existing customers. You may use digital marketing strategies to make sure your business grows, but it has to be an effective strategy then.

best free online store

Source: pixabay

In brick-and-mortar businesses, you will have to pay for rent, employees' salary, warehouses and more. So, it depends upon you how effectively you can run your store.

In a nutshell, before you decide on your chosen retail business model, you should consider the below factors.

  • How would you want to build a customer base?
  • Time and Money, you can invest in hiring employees
  • Your will to pay the overhead cost
  • Shipping and return expenses

If you are running a brick and mortar store and want to know about "how to start an online shop website", your first step should be to start making a prototype of your website by putting in all your ideas which you have thought.

Wondershare Mockitt is a prototyping tool that will assist you in designing your website prototype without learning how to code.

Mockitt also has a library of templates. You can choose one template for a general eCommerce store - so if you are not someone who'd like to design prototypes from scratch, you can select any of that template and customize it as per your requirements.

Mockitt has a user-friendly interface with which you won't face any issue while navigating through its features.

It allows you to create a complete project from scratch – with the help of various widgets and icons; you can design a captivating prototype.

That prototype would help you throughout the journey of your website development.

It doesn't matter if you are using the best free online store builder or not, as long as it allows you to customize your website, you should start with Mockitt for prototype designing.

So use Mockitt seamlessly and take your first step in creating your online store.

online shops

Final Thoughts

Each of the retail business models has its unique features – there is no winner.

However, a brick and mortar shop powered by a fully functional online store will help you to extend your reach in a better way.

So make sure you make the right decision based on the above comparison and your abilities to manage and grow a retail business.

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