As soon as new type of information processing, namely through huge networks of the Internet was developed, business world certainly got interested in using this system for the sake of improving and modernizing the structure of sales and commercial advertising. Thus a lot of online shops appeared as an alternative to usual shops. Later on the special term – e-tail – appeared; etymologically it means the combination of two notions: “electronic” and “retail”. For the first time this word was used around 1995.
In this paper we are going to compare the e-tail and retail systems, paying attention to the advantages and disadvantages of the new system of online commerce and relating also to the concrete products, which are better to be bought in a usual shop or by e-tailer.
First of all this is necessary to mention, that there are several types of e-tailers: those, which are pure plays and bricks and clicks (Bigne, 2005). For the first category of e-tailers the Internet is actually the primary means of retailing. One of the best-known examples of such store is Amazon.com. For the second category, i.e. for brick and click e-tailers the Internet serves only as one of the possible services, because they also have traditional physical store available.
We cannot deny the fact, that online shopping has become rather popular. Nowadays the speed of life seems to be changing, people are constantly running and are in a hurry. Most of them are working for 8-10 hours per day, which doesn’t allow them to spend as much time as before for their personal activities, including shopping. Along with development of the internet technologies, people became aware of the fact, that practically all the things, they were used to buy in shops, are now available online and this without any time restrictions for working hours and without any additional need to drive to the center. As people started to value their time, this is really important for them so save time for driving and parking or using public transport, saving costs for petrol, taking a risk that a product they need might not be found in the stock and there will be a need to drive to another shop to find it. In the Internet there is an immediate possibility to conduct a rapid research of the availability and variations and prices of the products and ordering them even with delivery service. Very often the prices online are lower, because for the retailer to run a shop costs much more money than a website. Some researches from PayPal prove, that the number of Internet shoppers is growing every year, people prefer to buy products online and make payments through Internet. Carl Olav Scheible, head of merchant services at PayPal said: “Over the past few years, we’ve seen the internet gradually eating away at the high street” (Todd, 1997).
In spite of all the above-mentioned advantages of online shops, we cannot conclude, that traditional shops are dying out at the moment. In reality there is a number of factors and reasons, why some people still prefer to go to usual retailers. An important disadvantage of online shops is the fact, that they usually do not ship the goods immediately on receipt of the order, besides later this also takes time for the parcel to arrive. If a consumer wants for example to watch a movie during weekend, there is no sense for him to order it online, as he won’t receive it quickly enough. Also there is hardly a chance for a consumer to buy groceries online, this is more logical to go to a shop and choose what you like there. There are numerous car dealers online, like for example – www.motortrend.com or www.carsales.com.au , but this is still not possible just to have a look at the photo on the web and to order a car – any buyer would like to have a test drive and check the actual condition of the car.
The process of interaction with a seller is an absolutely individual factor, as some consumers prefer to talk to a person to be safe about the products, whereas others are quite satisfied with the computer communication.
Another problem might arise in case when the consumer received not the goods that he ordered or expected and would like to return them. In a traditional shop this is normally easy to do, but in order to return something to online shop sometimes it is necessary to go to post office and pay the shipping charges and then again wait for the correct shipment. In order to avoid such problems, some online companies worked out special return policies, like for example Zappos.com foresees labels for return delivery for all goods and they do not charge anything for restocking.
Overall, we can conclude to the topic of our discussion, that in the era of highly developed technologies a lot of people would like to get use of them in the role of consumers as well. There are a lot of advantages of online shops and some goods like books, CDs or electronic devices could really be bought there. However the traditional shops can not be excluded, as there are still some problems, which cannot be solved by internet, for many customers they still seem more reliable and finally there are such products like groceries or cars or clothes sometimes, which can be bought only in a usual shop.