Year end shopping: Online or in-store?

Present.jpgA Facebook commissioned study revealed that 45 percent of Hong Kong consumers shopped in-store last Christmas. Surprisingly, only 36 percent shopped online.

In terms of spending, mobile-first consumers planned to spend HK$7,176 compared to planned spending of HK$5,437 for the average shopper during that period.

To avoid long wait times and crowds in-store, half of the mobile-first consumers said they were very interested in buying online, then pick-up in store.

Though it’s a survey on Hong Kong, the trend can apply to many urban places around the world.

So, which is better — shopping online or in-store?

Well, I guess it depends on what we’re buying.

Online is definitely more convenient as you can shop from wherever you are using the smartphone or a notebook/PC.

You also have access to practically any product from anywhere in the world. The transaction is immediate though delivery time is another matter. I had to order months in advance for fruit cakes from the US in order to get them by Christmas.

Another online advantage is the ability to read reviews and compare prices across sites so that you can get the best deals. Discounts and coupons abound for those who know where to find them.

While online shopping has its perks, brick-and-mortar stores still have their place.

Most of us would have heard of horror stories on online purchases. I have had my fair share with shirts that don’t fit — even though I spent time studying the size chart of the store — as well as a Kickstarter purchase.

Here’s where physical stores can make a massive difference. For clothing, you can see, feel and try them on so that you get the right fit and right colours (sometimes the colours look different online).

For food, it’s also good to be able to try them before buying. I mean, which online seller will tell you that theirs is not nice? It’s like asking a fruit seller if an orange is sweet — the answer, nearly always anyway, is a resounding “Yes”.

When buying big ticket items such as furniture and electronic products, it’s best to view them physically first before buying. There’s a high price to pay for any mismatch of expectation.

A hybrid approach may be the best way to do Christmas shopping. Do you research online, then go to physical stores to check out the product. The final decision on which platform to purchase from depends on who offers the best deal.

Happy shopping!

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