Research has shown that while the amount of visitors to brick-and-mortar stores has been dwindling, sales through online retail stores have increased. According to (Hawksford, 2018), traditional Singapore retail stores are struggling to keep themselves afloat, with the triple threat of rising costs, declining sales and industry disruption from e-commerce. This raises questions on the sustainability of brick-and-mortar stores, and if they should be replaced by online retail shops completely. While it may be tempting to accept this argument at its face value, there are benefits to having physical, rather than digital stores. The brick-and-mortar store experience gives customers the opportunity to interact with sales staff for more information about products. They can test, feel and make comparisons with other brands and their products, and it provides a sense of security for customers who are wary about making online transactions. As such, Brick-and-mortar stores should not be replaced by online retail stores.
Firstly, shopping in brick-and-mortar stores is a social experience and nothing can replace the feeling of shopping with friends or interacting with staff. When in doubt, customers can enquire about the products from a sales personnel. Customers can also receive recommendations from staff or professionals who are familiar with the particular product before purchasing them. This way, customers will feel that they have received valuable recommendations and insights. According to Inmoments study (2017), 54 percent of their customers said they value staff who are well-informed about the products and recognizes past purchasing patterns and needs. Although it is true that there are reviews available online, the assistance provided for a customer personally in real life would be much more helpful and valued.
Secondly, customers are able to test and feel the products while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. When customers check the products physically, they can tell if they like any specific aspect of the product and if it is the product they are looking for, all based on their sensory experiences. Customers can also tell if the product is durable and value for money when trying it out. For example, when a customer intends to purchase bedsheets, it is important to check for the comfortability of the product before purchasing. If customers do not do so, they will not get the gratification of purchasing the set they have been looking forward to, but instead be disappointed which may lead to them not patronising again. According to RetailDrive, more than 55 percent of customers visit physical stores before purchasing online. This is a preference of the customers, as it can provide them with a sense of security. This is so as they will be assured that their choice of purchase was what they were looking for and is worth it. Therefore, the existence of brick-and-mortar stores is an important factor as customers feel more assured being able to experience the products for themselves.
Thirdly, customers lack the trust in making online transactions due to increasing number of scams and sale of counterfeit brands. There has been an increasing number of scams and sale of counterfeit goods. Thought they know of the risks when purchasing online, gullible customers still tend to fall prey to alluring deals. In his research, Lo found that Online shopping scams have increased till 35 percent since 2018 and an average of 6 citizens fall prey to such online scams everyday. According to (Eng, 2018), From 11 to 16 Sep 2016, a man named Cai Jiaxiang advertised iPhone 7 Plus handsets on online shopping platforms like Carousell and Facebook, despite not owning the goods. He even targeted people from other countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea, creating listings on their buy and sell groups. …
Hawksford (2018). The shifting trend of retail in Singapore. Retrieved from
Inmoment (2017). STUDY: Consumers Still Value the In-Store Experience and Staff Interaction. Retrieved from
Kuczwara. D. (2017). Brick-and-Mortar vs. Ecommerce Stores: How to Leverage the Best of Both. Retrieved from
Skrovan. S. (2017). Why many shoppers go to stores before buying online. Retrieved from
Lo. Clifford. (2019). Online shopping scams are up nearly 35 percent from 2018, Hong Kong police figures show. Retrieved from