Coronavirus surprised us in the initial months of 2020. It thrust us into a digital age in no time, and people are getting used to it. However, long before work from home started entering the mainstream, online shopping of products from electronics to food had already made its mark. With the introduction of e-commerce, traditional shopping became more of a leisure activity. How was online shopping able to capture such a huge market, and why do people buy online despite the high risk of frauds? Let us find out by making a detailed comparison of online and offline shopping.

  1. More deals.

Getting something for a lower price than expected is always a joy. A significant difference between online shopping and offline shopping is the variety of deals in the former one. You would have to switch to ten different shops to avail the same kind of versatility. To make your job easy, some applications will fetch you the best deal and coupons automatically. In traditional shopping, you have to win a deal, by bargaining with the shopkeeper. If you are a lousy negotiator, you pay the overpriced cost. Bargaining is tiresome, and even though a small chunk of people enjoy it, most would rather stay out of it. This difference in online vs offline shopping itself makes introverts opt for online trade. 

  1.  Wide variety.

We have all been disappointed by the lack of variety in a typical shopping mall at some point. We do not find the desired brand, size or colour. It is much easier when you buy online, where a google search will list down all the websites selling the said product. Do not forget the offers! Many times, the things we cannot find in any store, we find online. Physical shops tend to store products which are popular, cheap and often inauthentic. Things like exotic ingredients, high fashion and luxury are mostly available online. 

  1.  Time and cost-efficient.

Shopping and public transport do not go together, at least not in a densely populated country. Count the number of times you had trouble travelling back home with all your newly purchased luggage. It is too stressful for people who are noise and light-sensitive, some lack patience. This convenience-related difference between online shopping and offline shopping is enough for anyone to shop online. You do not incur travelling expenses and unnecessary stress when you buy online. The internet does not have long queues, besides it is sensible to save those travelling costs during an ongoing pandemic.

  1. Flexible timings. 

It is rare for a digital shop to have a set closing time. They could have “closing periods” wherein they close the shop for several days, but you usually do not have to worry about it. Being able to check an online store anytime is a striking difference between online shopping and offline shopping. It is also ideal for shopaholics who cannot fight the urge to buy things. 

  1. Quicker.

Who would win a speed test between online vs offline shopping? You know the answer. Everything is faster in the digital world, except for deliveries. You do not have to stand in long queues to make payments or wait for your items to get packed. You must have spent hours flipping through different clothes to finally find your fit. If something is unavailable in the online store, you will get an answer immediately. You can explore more options and find more offers in less time. There are legitimately fewer steps in online shopping. Even customer support services are better when you shop online. However, more than often, you would not need customer support unless you want to ask about a particular product.

  1. Easy management for the seller.

We have answered, “why do people buy online?”, now let us answer, “why do sell online?” You only need to maintain the inventory. If you are a small business owner, it is easy. You are familiar with customers placing products in the wrong section because they couldn’t care less, and just generally littering the area. As a seller, you save a lot of labour costs by not having to clean your store. You save space, time and money. In the context of Coronavirus, you protect yourself and your customers but reduce social interaction. This major dissimilarity in online shopping and offline shopping is another factor for preferring e-commerce

  1. Unreliable at times.

Let us take a look at the downsides of online shopping. As the comparison of online and offline shopping initially began, “expectations vs reality” posts made surfaced on the media. It is where a lot of sellers take advantage of customers and even independent creators. Stealing images of dresses, decorations, accessories and producing cheap, knockoff versions of said products is a norm. The lack of accessibility to the actual commodity is the reason why some people still choose offline shopping.

  1. The internet is an unsafe place.

Everything you reveal on the internet is traceable. When we make a comparison of online and offline shopping, online shopping seems more dangerous. Websites wanting to save your passwords do not make it any easier. If your device gets stolen, or you click the wrong button, then you risk losing a significant amount of money. The same can happen when digital payments are done during in-store shopping, but you always have an option to use cash. 

  1. The slow delivery. 

The disappointing difference between online shopping and offline shopping is the nature of deliveries. In-store shopping is more convenient for urgently needed items because you immediately obtain the product after payment. In an online market, you have no control over the delivery process. Customers are no strangers to late deliveries, especially in cases of imported items. 


We saw nine factors explaining the good and bad sides of both online shopping and offline shopping. It seems clear that the digital age came with several advantages. With the increasing attention towards cybersecurity, we could expect the eighth point to become irrelevant in the future. Coronavirus increased the preference for online shopping for every product like health items to food, and users might never go back to traditional shopping. 

Despite the clear winner in this online vs offline shopping debate, traditional markets are not obsolete. They still are a necessity and will likely retain their importance in the coming years. Besides, walking through a lively, hustling market has a different charm. 


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