The difference between buying and shopping
Online shops and retailers are at war.
With the behemoth that is Amazon continually growing at a rapid pace and singlehandedly redefining eCommerce, it seems as though brick and mortar stores and e-tailers are at a crossroads. The mobilisation of the internet and advances in eCommerce and logistics have impacted consumer behaviour and how both customers and companies navigate the purchase process. We’ve seen a retail wipeout of many brands, such as Sears, JC Penney, Payless, and David’s Bridal to name a few. In addition, many companies are trimming their retail storefronts. While the common narrative pins this decline on the rise of eCommerce, that is only one part of the problem. These companies that have struggled to evolve and cater to the changing desires of shoppers -- also fail to understand the nuances between buying and shopping.
Buying vs Shopping: a false dilemma?
Buying is a transactional process, motivated by intent. Buying encompasses habitual and routine purchases, and is driven by efficiency and finding good value. In many ways eCommerce has come to be synonymous with buying, as online marketplaces such as Amazon have pioneered price comparison and convenience in an easy to navigate assortment. Unsurprisingly, Amazon has the greatest market share and growth in Western markets through the elimination of friction in the path to efficiency, in terms of price, assortment and/or convenience. In comparison, Shopping is far more experiential in nature, in contrast to transactional buying. Customers enjoy the process of shopping as it combines discovery and exploration, in a social environment. Shopping is generally more time consuming however rewards shoppers well by finding the perfect party outfit, the best home furnishings or completing a home improvement project. The ability to get help from sales assistants, friends and try the product on are paramount elements in this experience.
While shopping isn’t mutually exclusive with eCommerce, many brands who jump on the Amazon efficiency bandwagon tend to fall off the back of it. Retail is undergoing a radical transformation, however it is a fallacy to think implementing same day shipping is the key to overcoming this shift. Pioneers in the industry, such as Amazon and Alibaba, understand the distinction between buying and shopping and have become cornerstones of the search and intent side of the market.
Yet, there are very few online stores who have attempted to differentiate themselves through an online shopping environment. An integrated omnichannel approach, where retailers are synergising online and offline -- is a step in the right direction, however still falls short of making online shopping an experience.
Differentiating your brand in the disrupted retail landscape
Alternative shopping experiences show that customers can handle a shift in the rules. This is one of our goals for Groupify -- we combine socialisation, discovery and group deals to provide an unforgettable online shopping experience. The pleasure of retail is about so much more than being able to buy razors with a single click; it’s the act of discovery and imagination that inspires customers to form a lasting connection to brands and stores. Focus on differentiating your experience and becoming a place that shoppers look forward to spending their hard-earned time.
With giant companies like Amazon and Alibaba cornering the transactional buying side of the market, you’ll struggle to set yourself apart if you only consider the purchase. It’s impossible to win at being quicker and cheaper on a large scale than Amazon. By opening up your experience to discovery, you can differentiate the service you deliver. It’s no coincidence that the brick-and-mortar retailers that have thrived in the last decade are discovery oriented. Destinations like TJ Maxx, Ross, and Dollar Tree have all created treasure hunt-like experiences that are difficult to replicate online but satisfying for shoppers.