We’re doing more and more online these days, from keeping in touch with friends on social networks to managing our finance and even our supermarket shopping. Internet shopping has been blamed in part for the demise of some big retail brands like HMV or Woolworths, but sometimes internet shopping isn’t the best option. Tool and building supplies company Screwfix hit the headlines recently when it seemed to be moving in the opposite direction from the competition by seeking out new physical stores in addition to its online presence. So what are the advantages of shopping in a proper retail store for your screws, drill bits and plasterboard?
For professionals who know exactly what they want, sizes, measurements and quantities then online is probably easiest. They just log on to their chosen website, order their supplies and either pick it up or have it delivered the next day. Those of us who are not building professionals though can struggle when shopping online. It can be hard to estimate the amount of paint or plasterboard you are going to need if you have never attempted building work before, and nothing holds up a job quicker than running out of materials in the middle of the afternoon. For these sorts of customers, there is nothing better than going into a shop, speaking with the staff and getting advice on all aspects of your purchase.
It’s a generally held perception that shopping online is always cheaper than shopping in a traditional store, but this may not necessarily be the case. Most traditional stores are working hard to compete with the online businesses by cutting their prices to similar levels, and offering other promotions and incentives to keep customers coming back time and time again. Furthermore, making costly mistakes by buying the wrong items from an online retailer then having to spend time returning them and chasing up a refund is false economy in the long run.
Rural v Urban
Internet shopping is all very well when you live in a major city like Birmingham and Glasgow, and things can be delivered within hours. However, those in more rural locations often have to accept that their orders can take a lot longer to arrive. Ordering online can be no quicker than going to your local Cornish tool shop and picking up your order in person. If you prefer to work online, in a rural location it is still best to order from a local tool shop, or one based in the Highlands if you live there, as they will have a greater understanding of your location and will be able to get deliveries to you more quickly.
It’s anyone’s guess how retail will continue to develop over the coming decades although it’s fair to say that our children’s generation will shop in a different way from the way we shop today. Most experts seem to agree that internet stores will tend towards the mass market, but there will always be a place for the independent retailer offering advice and great customer service.
Article by Morag Peers