Brick & Mortar or Online Shopping?

Not too long ago, Linda and I were discussing and one topic that came up was that of getting an actual store. Of course, the traditional business method has always been physical, meaning you interact face to face with the person selling the goods. I think online shopping is one of the most amazing advancements in technology, and here are some of my reasons:

+ I love that I can shop items from a whole other region/country by just putting in my card details

Source: Pretty Little Thing

+ The access to a large range of products you may not find where you stay

+ The excitement (and sometimes crippling anxiety) of waiting for your much-anticipated package to arrive – Aliexpress shoppers can relate to this, especially we cheapskates that just love that free shipping option.

I find that It’s way easier for me to spend money online that I do in real life. Getting a debit card is one of the best and worst things ever, and I love it! So, I was inspired to write this post, thinking of our conversation the other day. Those of you who own businesses and are reading this, do you prefer to be online or owning a physical shop?  For those who don’t own businesses, which do you prefer? Let’s also say you’re considering starting a business e.g. a boutique, what would you go for?

I think that the option depends on the business. I mean you can’t really run an online makeup artistry, can you? Yeah, you can show all the beat faces (with heavy edits and perfect lighting) but the customer actually needs to come to you for the face beat.

When I came back to Nigeria, I discovered the beauty of online shopping – people are opening stores and using Instagram as their platforms! I think that is one of the coolest things ever. I’ve highlighted some pros and cons both on the sides of the business owner, and the shopper (as I am kind of in both camps) below.

P.S I didn’t do some mind-blowing, in-depth research and analysis of business trends or whatever. I’m just talking from my perspective. Don’t come for me.

Pros: Setting up an Online (INSTAGRAM) Shop

+ You don’t have to pay rent to be on Instagram (for now, anyway). Even switching to a business profile is free

+ You don’t even have to pay for a website of your own. Just slap contact details in the bio (most use Whatsapp or DMs as the channel for orders) and bam! All good to go.

+ All you do is worry about your branding (logo, theme, color scheme, photo quality), the set-up of your feed, communication with customers.

+ Basically, not as many overhead costs.

Cons: Shopping from an Online Store

+ You order based on the photos, sometimes you never know what you might end up with. Some stores do their best by showing you not just photos, but videos of the item in action, but still, not every experience can be pleasant. I don’t know what’s worse – getting an absolute disappointment (even if you’ll get a refund) or getting an absolute disappointment when you really needed the item! (Screams in frustration). Perhaps you had an all-important event to go to, and the dress comes the day before or hours before.

+ You can’t try on the clothes. This really sucks especially if there are discrepancies in the sizing, and maybe you don’t even know your exact size.

+ Nothing beats reality? Let’s face it though, no matter how descriptive the product description is, nothing beats holding up the item and really taking a look at it.

PROS: Brick & Mortar Store

+ Control: Though I list more cons than pros, I’d actually love to have a brick and mortar (physical) store! The fact that you have this little space to decorate and display ze’ goods is awesome. I’d make my store very Instagram friendly so I could attract hordes of bloggers, posers and social media enthusiasts. 

+ Shopper: You can try on clothes, see what works, discard what doesn’t. You can have a good time! Plus, you don’t have to wait weeks for the package to come, it’s instant!

CONS: Brick & Mortar STORE

For the business owner

Bills: *starts singing* I’ve got bills… I’ve gotta pay.. Yeah, I’m not too excited over the idea of paying not just rent, but utility costs – electricity, water, and in the case of Nigeria, whatever your environment/village people decide to throw at you. Plus, you have to pay to achieve that aesthetic & appeal to customers. The better the location, the more coins you need to fork over. ew.

– Location: I actually kind of find it limiting in a way. Unless you have the coin to expand and establish more stores, I don’t like the idea of being in one place. I mean, then again, this depends on the location. If you want to have a physical store, you actually need to get on social media platforms – Instagram especially. That way, you can still reach people who aren’t necessarily in your area. Sometimes I drive past a shopping centre and see a random shop with a sign board, surrounded by many other shops with signboards. I wonder how these people get found, and I don’t want to feel .. confined.

For the Shopper

– You Can’t Shop Naked: Basically, when you are out in public you have to at least attempt to look decent. You don’t want to risk being carted away on suspicion of being a mad person. Jokes! But seriously, going to a physical shop can sometimes be stressful. I hate the little anxiety that comes with security checks – I’m no thief, people! The idea of lounging in your hole-filled underwear, a sachet glass of pure sparkling water in hand while perfectly manicured (or normal, normal is okay) nails slide across your keyboard/phone screen as you throw items into a cart, is pretty awesome too.

Those are just a few of the pros and cons I was able to come up with. I really liked thinking and writing on this topic, and I’d love for us to have a bomb conversation below!

What do you think? Online shopping or physical shopping?Talk from your perspective as a shopper or business owner. If you have no business, make one up! Lol!


10 thoughts on “Brick & Mortar or Online Shopping?”

  1. As much as I love online shopping, I prefer going to the shop to bargain for my clothes mehn! There’s nothing as good as bargaining and getting it at an affordable price.

    Nice post

  2. I prefer physical shopping because I don’t get satisfied easily, I like seeing plenty things and selecting. But when I am in lazy mode (which is most of the time), I settle for online shopping, I cannot come and kill myself

  3. Maybe I should say I am in between the two. I choose to use any one depending on the item I want to get, time I needed it and of course delivery cost also make a big decision too, if delivery fee isnt worth it, biko i’m off. Sometimes I even do a random item search on some of this online stores just to have an idea of the prices. Not to forget some persons shy away from online stores just because of the fear (maybe not just fear cos it’s real) of being defrauded. That being said, in today’s world I think the idea of concentrating on a single market type ( online or brick and mortar) should be discarded. Both market place is necessary for a business to thrive and grow and since we will always have customers who prefer one to the other, why shoot yourself in the leg?. Set up a brick and mortar (not necessarily a rented store) all you need is a place where your goods/services can meet up with your client, an extra room in the house, abandoned space within the compound and if you have to pay for rent, why not if its worth it. Then combine online strategies, marketing and the likes of stores you want, build an app. (I heard it’s even cheap). And of course, one of the two can be the focal point.
    P.s: I wrote a post on how you can shop smart and safe in an online store sometimes ago. You may want to check it out at just search for “online store”

  4. As a business owner it’s good to have an office, however social media networks gives everyone the platform to start small, but an office space should be something am upcoming business owner should have in view. As a shopper I prefer to buy my what I need from the market because I can price as I like and I know am not getting ripped off.. The only online store that I feel comfortable shopping from is aliexpress.

  5. Physical shopping it is for me. I have bought items online and when it arrives, it’s either not my perfect size or it’s not the same as what I ordered for. Either the quality is poor or the color sucks!

    Plus some online sellers have terrible customer approach and after you’ve made payments and waiting for them to deliver, you begin to hear so many annoying stories and you just start asking yourself why you did not just walk into a store closest to you and buy your thing and move on with your life.

    Easy peezy!

  6. Very insightful post Amaka. I honestly love the whole experience of shopping in a Brick and Mortar store. I love trying on clothes, pairing outfit combos and seeing what works because unfortunately it’s not everything that looks good in pictures that will work for you. However, with the hassle of shopping in Nigeria, with all those men pulling your hands and getting angry when you don’t buy, I actually prefer shopping online. Though, after several disappointments with Made in Nigeria goods, I’m set to shift my focus on foreign brands like ASOS. Also, as a former shop owner, having an online store really saves you money and helps maximize profits plus we can’t forget the convenience of it all. By the way girl you’re doing amazingly well, love your blog layout, your entire branding sef. You’re definitely one to watch this year. I look forward to reading more posts from you, always.

    Princess Audu

  7. Hii Amaka, I had fun reading this post. I really love Instagram shopping but a larger percentage of my favourite stores are based in Lagos and delivery charges to Ibadan actually make me cringe. Apart from that, I love the fact that I can get what I want in the comfort of wherever I want it to be delivered to. If I were to be a business owner, it’d definitely be online based, I mean, no need to pay rent. Love the new blog look. xx
    Why Don’t You Have A Business

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