Should you shop online vs in store?

Online vs in store shopping header

The difference between online vs in store shopping.


It’s not easy to settle the debate between online vs in store shopping.

On one hand, online shopping has dramatically changed the way we shop for… well, everything really. Brick and mortar stores like Toys R Us have become defunct strictly because they couldn’t compete in the online marketplace. On the other hand, studies have found that overwhelming numbers of customers still prefer the in store shopping experience. Since Gemr is a community of collectors who love to buy and sell collectibles, the question’s got us thinking: is there an answer to the online vs in store shopping debate? Is it even a question that can be answered?

A lot of the debate comes down to preference, but there are clear pros and cons to shopping online vs in store. Let’s take a look and help you discover the best way to hunt down everything you need, from collectibles to groceries.

Why in store shopping is better

in store shopping

The most obvious advantage of in store shopping is the ability to preview an item before you buy it.

When buying new, this might not matter too much. Buying clothing in store is great in particular since you get to try on everything first. On the other hand, this doesn’t matter as much for electronics and movies. For collectors buying used items, going in store can be a huge help. No one likes finding out their item is in terrible condition, and sometimes seeing is believing. This is why events where collectors can meet and trade collectibles are so great – everyone gets to preview the merchandise.

Similarly, buying in store guarantees you get what you pay for immediately. Sure, many online platforms offer fast and free shipping nowadays. But even then, you might have to buy more than you intended to qualify for free shipping. Buying in-store has no such stipulations, which is great if you aren’t looking to spend $35 in a single visit.

But most importantly, shopping in store is an experience. It’s something you can do with friends and family members, and it’s a good way to find items you didn’t even know you wanted. You might not have thought about buying a weighted blanket necessarily, but passing by one on the shelf will make you visualize having it at your home. Brick and mortar stores are also more prone to clearance sales, and if you’re lucky, you can score some awesome items for cheap. And as many collectors know, the thrill of the hunt is half the fun.

Why shopping online is better.

Shopping Online

Online shopping has become prolific because it’s so dang convenient.

Traveling to a physical location means burning gas in your vehicle, or paying money for public transportation. But more importantly, shopping in store takes time. If you know exactly what you want to buy, shopping online can potentially save hours of your time. Fire up a webpage, add an item to your cart, and enter your payment info. Just like that, you’ve done a task in 5 minutes that would otherwise take you 45.

Furthermore, online shopping makes it easier to compare prices and research items. With just a few keystrokes, you can check what every online store is pricing the same product at and shave dollars off your final price. Meanwhile, even comparing the same item at two different stores in person will cost you more in transportation than what you’d theoretically saved. Even researching in store prices beforehand can be tricky, since your local vendors can wind up being out of stock.

Last but not least, online shopping gives you the freedom to shop at whatever time is most convenient. If you manage a 40 hour work week on top of other household responsibilities, sneaking away to a store while they’re still open can be a tricky task. But when shopping online, you can choose to get in your pajamas, order an entire Christmas list of gifts at 10:30 PM, and call it a night the moment you’re done. Online shopping is all about freedom, and it’s tough to put a pricetag on that.

The online vs in store verdict.

Online Shopping

Online and in store shopping both have advantages and disadvantages in terms of their shopping experience. However, each approach has clear advantages for very specific products.

If you’re shopping for electronics or media – like new movies or video games – online shopping is a no brainer. Similarly, many storefronts allow you to “subscribe” to certain products that you use regularly, which beats making repetitive trips to the store every month for the same necessities. On the other hand, it really helps to preview clothing and furniture in store. Honestly, anything you want to “try before you buy” will benefit from the in store experience, especially if you want to avoid the hassle of cumbersome returns.

In other words, savvy shoppers will want to utilize both in store and online shopping . Just remember that many small stores – such as your local comic book shop – thrive on providing niche, curated experiences that have become rare since the rise of online shopping. So in these cases, consider supporting your community even if it costs you a few extra dollars. Otherwise, there’s no wrong way to do your shopping. Happy hunting!

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