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Online Shopping Versus In-Store Shopping

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Whether it is clothing, groceries, medicine, flight tickets or even a house, shopping is covering most of the pyramid of our basic needs, an activity that has always been there from the trading days to the E-commerce of today.

We will always shop, but how does technology development, advancement of society, how do our needs change, or how does our lifestyle affect this activity? Do we still have time and enjoy the crowded markets, malls and stores and fill our days off or do we simply choose to click and have errands delivered to our doorstep?

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The following paper shall be composed of an introduction, research structure, research topic, research question, reason of undertaking, research objectives, research methodology, data collection methods, research philosophy, literature review, advantages and disadvantages of online and in-store shopping, analysis, findings, recommendations, and conclusion.

As history confirms, we have taken a huge step from trade to marketplace to today’s malls and shopping frenzy, from negotiation to credit card payments, from arcades to boutiques, and sometimes to window shopping. But will the next step be? The online shopping and E-commerce? What is the possibility that it becomes an exclusive mean of buying and selling goods and services? Is it starting to highly affect the in-store business?

That being said, the following research paper will briefly try to answer the question: Is the online shopping starting to replace the in-store shopping? And if so, the consumer behavior shall be analyzed and the answer shall reveal what are the reasons of this transition.

Significance of the study and reason of choice

Even though trends are known to be seasonal and very typical from shopper to shopper, not enough research is being conducted, especially from here the local market’s perspective. Dubai- the world famous luxury shopping hub. It is also a highly interesting topic of discussion especially for millenials, it is an actual and fast pace developing trend, it always hides tips, underlines what could be improved, it shifts from the traditional to the innovational and it is a great asset to invest in as the future of everything is online, in our hand on our smartphone, we carry it with us and we control it in seconds at ease.

As mentioned in the proposal this research’s objective is to allow shoppers to briefly shape their consumer behavior into the retailer’s mind, into the tech developers creativity and even to open up banks’ eyes to understand and provide products and services accordingly, it helps segment the market, determines and compares the advantages and disadvantages of both online and in-store shopping, and provides more insight to other researchers.

The methodology of the below research will be a mix of quantitative and primary data producing (statistics and observations of the questionnaire performed and short interviews of a store managers and a shopper) and qualitative methods of the deduction of the findings and literature review of secondary sources.

There are two ways to collect data, when collecting data to approach the purpose of a research. Data collected from any sources that has been published already in a written or non-written form is known as secondary data (books, magazines, articles) and primary data discovered while undergoing the research. Primary data can be collected through interviews, observations, experiments and questionnaire.

The following research will be starting off as being inductive by planting the question “Is the online shopping starting to replace the in-store shopping?” and will end up in a deductive approach due to placing observations on the questionnaire findings. That being said the research will be conducted using the grounded theory (finding answers based on behaviors and then collecting the necessary data and analyzing it).

This research is based on positivistic philosophy, as defined by Kadhi “The framework of positivism is to understand and studies human beings and their actions from environment and then outcomes or results are explained on the basis of theories and facts by the researchers (Kadhi, 2009, p. 64). That being said it started from the research question “Is online shopping going to replace the in-store shopping?” and inducted towards the final findings that were achieved by a deductive approach based on the logical and observed human senses and actions.

What is shopping?

“Shopping is the activity of buying things from shops or the goods that you have bought, especially from stores.” As we can see according to the Cambridge dictionary shopping is normally associated to stores or shops, considering that this is not an updated definition we need to remember the most important mean of shopping there is at the moment- the E-commerce where online can be as well a virtual shop or store.

What is E-commerce according to specialists?

The business of buying and selling goods and services on the internet. The E-commerce market growth in the UAE speaks by the numbers. According to the Dubai Statistics Center, from the years of 2014 to 2018 the online commerce has grown from AED 2.5 billion to a staggering AED 10 billion. That is a 41.42% annual growth rate.

The main drivers of E-commerce here locally as well as internationally are considered to be of course the great growth of the past years of mobile and internet technologies, but among many others we can enumerate as well the ease of operations, ease of use for users, or saving fixed costs such as rent, employees, and utilities and so on. This surely drags the retailers, businesses or even corporations to not only shift some of the operations on online domain if not all of them. As the future is online.

According to most of the questionnaire underwent, in the participant’s opinion, the most accessed websites are Amazon/, Awok, Wadi, Namshi fashion, Sharaf DG, the brand’s websites such as Zara or Mango as part of the Apparel Group, Carrefour. Meanwhile the most visted malls are The Dubai Mall, Emirates Mall, Mirdif City Center and Deira City Center and City Walk.

In terms of variety of products purchased over the internet from the above mentioned websites, participants point out software to be the most purchased with a rate of 35%, followed by fashion items such as clothing or shoes in 30% and electronics such as Iphones or MacBook laptops 25% and flight or hotel bookings with an average of 10%. (Not all the participants answered to this question, therefore the rates are approximated).

While reviewing the great pool of secondary sources available on the web, a researcher’s goal is to find a key asset- game changing statement and such of a clearly shocking confession was given by one of the greatest technology figures, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple in an interview for the Wired magazine in the February issue, 1996.

“The heart of the Web, he said, will be commerce, and the heart of commerce will be corporate America serving custom products to individual consumers,” as Wired wrote. Further on while asked Wired: “What other opportunities are out there?” Jobs answered: “Who do you think will be the main beneficiary of the Web? Who wins the most? W: People who have something -SJ: To sell! W: To share.SJ: To sell! W: You mean publishing? SJ: It’s more than publishing. It’s commerce. People are going to stop going to a lot of stores. And they’re going to buy stuff over the Web!”

This interview underwent twenty two years ago, at that time of confusing and daydreamer title but today of a immeasurable value. Jobs predicted and foresaw the power his innovations in regards to not only the Apple Corporation but to technological developments and uses it may have in the future. Commerce is indeed taking place on the web and those who have to buy and sell are the biggest advantage takers of it.

Another great secondary source selected is the statement “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” Said Bill Gates, founder of the Microsoft Corporation in an unrecorded reference. As it can be observed, if you search for a company’s website or location and you cannot Google it or review it than it does not confer reliability and credibility. Another secondary data source is an online Business article posted on the 22nd of February, 2017, with the title “From mall madness to sadness: Why shopping centers will soon be obsolete?” and its subtitle “Retail shops need to act fast. E-cmmerce is on the rise…” The whole article argues that online shopping is more social, easier, customer service is better, the online “showrooms” are more satisfactory and that it can even be more educational and interactive.

Locally a newspaper article was issued both in writing and online that highly underlines the side effects of the online and changing trends of buying behavior by Manooj Nair, associate editor on June 25th, 2018 with the title “UAE malls go out in winning back shoppers”. It discusses over the newly imposed tax at the beginning of the year, the aggressive online affecting the mall visitors and the high costs of malls operations that incent shops to remain running and decrease rent prices.

Moving on from already stated observations to our own practical and actual feedback of shoppers, we shall develop primary source data methods in order to find out if the above mentioned trends are true. Online shopping will eventually take over.


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