5 Differences Between Digital & Brick and Mortar Shopper Experience

Over the last two decades, the shopping experience has changed dramatically. With the majority of retailers now having an online presence, including large brands and independent boutiques, buying products over the internet has never been easier.

Figures by Statista put global e-commerce sales in 2018 at $2.84 trillion. By 2021, this is predicted to rise to $4,88 trillion. The top 3 countries with the highest e-commerce sales in 2018 were UK, China and Norway.

With these figures, you’d think that in-store shopping is dead. Well, the numbers show it isn’t. In 2018 global retail sales totaled $24.86 trillion. This is expected to increase to $27.73 trillion in 2020. This shows that it’s still possible to make big sales through having a brick and mortar presence, and here are some reasons why:

"In 2018 global retail sales totaled $24.86 trillion. This is expected to increase to $27.73 trillion in 2020."

What is a brick and mortar store 

A brick and mortar store is a physical shop, a location where products and services are sold. Brick and mortar stores are traditional street-side businesses that provide services and products for their customers. 

While the term brick and mortar is mainly used to describe local stores, grocery shops, and retail chains, brick and mortar can be used for any type of business that sells products in a physical location. For instance, banks and libraries are also considered brick and mortar locations. 

Click and mortar is another buzz-worthy term we should discuss before moving forward. Brick and click describes a business that has an omnichannel retail strategy in place. This means that customers can place an order online, pay for it and have it delivered at their front steps. Also, they can order on the website and come to collect the products inside the store. Unlike an eCommerce platform, brick and click stores also have a physical location where shoppers can see and purchase products. 

What is the difference between brick and mortar and eCommerce

There are a few things that differentiate brick and mortar stores from eCommerce platforms. As we’ve mentioned previously, there are also brick and mortar stores that sell their products online (brick and click), but eCommerce platforms don’t have a physical location where customers can see the products. 

Traditional brick and mortar stores only sell products in physical locations and that is people can only shop during working hours. On eCommerce platforms, customers can shop at any time of the day (or night), but they will have to wait for their products to be delivered. Also, customers can’t see, smell, touch, or compare products on eCommerce sites. 

Customers still prefer to shop in brick and mortar stores because they can enjoy the complete shopping experience. Most shoppers do their research online, but end up shopping in a physical location because they want to see the products for themselves and take them home to enjoy as soon as possible.

Differences between digital and brick and mortar shopper experience

1. Sensorial Factor

Being able to see and touch products is a prime motivating factor for people shopping in- store. The ability to pick up an item makes it easier to determine its quality and suitability, whilst comparisons to similar items can be made quickly. The shopper’s in-store experience can be superior to shopping online, a fact which attracts those who want to see a product before buying.

2. Instant pick-up

While online shopping can be done anywhere at any time, you still have to wait for the item to be delivered. The huge plus of shopping in-store is that you can take the item away with you immediately. So, the shopper’s experience is more pleasant as he or she doesn’t have to sit around the house and wait all day for the delivery van to arrive.

3. Faster returns

The ease of returning unsuitable items is another reason why people prefer to shop in- store. Instead of having to parcel the item back up, post it back and wait several weeks for the refund to be triggered, unwanted items can be refunded or swapped easily and quickly in-store.

4. Enjoyable in-store shopper experience

While some love the ease of shopping online, many prefer the social aspect of in-store shopping. Scientists have found that the act of in-store shopping actually releases a chemical called Dopamine, which is responsible for pleasure. Plus, in-store shopping can be incorporated with other activities, like meeting a friend for coffee or stopping for a spot of lunch at a favorite café. Not to mention that it’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself a personal moment: a moment of peace away from work or family. Almost like going on a mini trip!

5. Getting Information is Easy

Even though there is a vast amount of information online, finding the right information can be a hassle. Instead of trailing through numerous web-pages to find the answer you need, the same information can be obtained easily by asking an in-store customer service assistant.


While you cannot ignore online shopping, and in many cases, you need to make sure you have an online store, there are certain aspects of in-store shopping that will never be replaced in the virtual world. Humans crave personal interaction, and having our biological senses triggered (in a good way) can create experiences that stick with us for longer than a smoothly executed website. Retail technology will surely impact the sector greatly, and will keep customers going through your door. 

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