Right now, we are at the crux of production and commercial demand. With supply chain shortages and delivery irregularities, buying local has never been more important – for both businesses and individuals. However, we are also at the technological pinnacle of shopping online. Never has it been easier to browse products on your phone or computer and have them delivered to your how with just a few clicks.
Should you shop locally or shop online? What is the most cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable answer in our current market? As with most things, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons to discover the right balance of local vs online shopping for your needs and neighborhood.
Online Shopping Pros vs Cons
Online shopping is incredibly convenient and since this became the era of Amazon, drop-shipping is now the way to quickly get things done. Ordering something from anywhere in the country (or further) takes just a few days to reach your doorstep. When you’re planning ahead, shopping online is a practical and modern choice.
Pros of Online Shopping
- Quick and easy order to delivery
- Accurate item selection
- Ability to research items before ordering
- Access inventory from any surrounding distribution center
Online shopping is the best way to get everything you need if you have a few days to a few weeks to wait for it. In city centers, you might get most of your items same-day or the next day from local distribution centers. Online shopping allows you to carefully choose items by name and model with more precision than picking from a shelf. They can also research their items as they select. With online shopping ‘out of stock’ is almost a thing of the past, as most retailers have a network of distribution centers with inventory available to fill an order.
Cons of Online Shopping
- Rising service costs
- Shipping delays
- Risks of damage in shipping
- Labor quality and treatment
- Inappropriate for fresh and spoiling items
Online shopping does have a few downsides. Right now, delivery and service costs are on the rise, and more packages are arriving late due to extensive shipping shortages and international travel delays. There is a higher risk of items drop-shipped being damaged on the way to your door, and any fresh items are at a higher risk of spoiling, even if bought frozen. Many are also concerned that the labor conditions of distribution and delivery teams are not up to modern quality standards.
Buying From a Local Business Pros vs Cons
Buying local, on the other hand, has been a staple of human society since the first village market. Further, buying local means finding goods and shops near you instead of ordering what you need drop-shipped. Many things make the most sense to buy local, like fresh groceries which could both be easily damaged and spoil during drop-shipping. As supply chains contract, it becomes more practical to source most of your shopping from local suppliers, manufacturers, and producers.
Pros of Local Shopping
- Find what you need, nearby and on the shelves
- Fresh and delicate items reach you in perfect condition
- On-demand, buy and receive on the same day
- Support local farmers, industry, and business owners
- Build a network of local suppliers you can rely on
- Eliminate shipping delays and supply uncertainty
Local shopping is a favorite for those who are thinking about short deliveries and supporting the community. When you shop locally, you get your items same-day by picking them up at the store yourself. For groceries, flowers, and other fresh items, are always best bought locally where the items are perfectly fresh and undamaged when they reach your home.
Building a habit of shopping locally will help you build a network of local stores and sellers who provide you with a more reliable supply than shipping which is subject to supply chain shortages.
Cons of Local Shopping
- More limited local supply
- Subject to local material and production costs
- Risk of back-orders and demand delays
- Exotic products may not be available
Shopping locally does have a few downsides. The primary con of local shopping is the limit of local supply. Exotic items, things that aren’t made or sold nearby, and anything in high demand may be out of stock and unavailable for local shopping. You may also find that locally produced items come at a higher price point, as they are subject to the local costs of materials and production.
Where Local and Online Shopping Meet
The massive delivery movement of local shops during the pandemic has led us to one great innovation when it comes to local and online shopping: Online shopping from local stores. Just as restaurants had to shut their dining rooms and send out drivers with to-go boxes, local retail stores, and other suppliers have begun upgrading their websites to provide online shopping and same-day or next-day delivery services.
In cities and population centers, you can find many local businesses offering delivery through their own staff or a partnership with local gig delivery fleets like Postmates or DoorDash. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy the precision and convenience of online shopping while supporting your local business owners.
When to Shop Online & When to Buy From a Local Business
When should you shop online vs local shopping? It depends on your goals and what you can achieve through local sources. Right now, shopping locally is the best way to secure your orders and support local businesses. However, if what you want is not available locally, or you can more easily source it from a few surrounding distribution centers, then an online order is your best bet.
For fresh orders, local building materials, and services, it’s always better to shop locally whenever possible. Only exotic items and ingredients may be necessary to buy online if you favor a local shopping approach.
Learn More About Online Shopping vs. Buying From a Local Business
Here at Woz U, we support the technological advancement of online shopping for both drop-shipped and locally sourced goods. Whether you are shopping for groceries at the local farmer’s market, having a special gift drop-shipped to the house, or ordering from a local retailer for same-day delivery, we can help you step into a tech-savvy life. Find career training for IT and technical roles to make your big career shift and do your shopping any way you want.
When you’re ready to begin a journey and new career, Woz U is here to help you get started. With many different training options, you can start your journey to a career in tech now!