Do You Prefer to Shop Online, on Your Mobile, or at a Brick-and-Mortar Store?

Writers Opinion Shopping Featured

The landscape of shopping opportunities continues to change and evolve frequently. Twenty-five years ago if you dared to trust the Internet with your information, there were certain stores that were online, but for most shopping needs, you needed to hit your local mall or grocery.

Just 25 years later shopping has completely evolved with online shopping becoming more and more prevalent. And now with delivery options being readily available with most stores, that landscape is changing again. At this point in time, do you prefer to shop online, on your mobile, or at a brick-and-mortar store?

Our Opinion

For Elsie it depends on what she’s buying. She prefers shopping on her mobile for software, other digital products, and a few other items she can’t easily find locally. She wants to physically review certain things, like a car or electronics such as headphones. She wants to “physically review and try them for myself, not just go with what’s been said online and hit the ‘add to cart’ button.’ “

She wouldn’t buy groceries online either, as she wants to pick her own unless the grocer knows her preferences. Most brick-and-mortar stores are within her reach anyway, so she’ll pop in and buy stuff in bulk for the week, minimizing her movement.

Phil shops online for everything. These days shopping online is reserved for things he needs to try on, enjoys buying physically, or needs in the immediate moment. He’s been shopping online since the 90s and “surprisingly, few items have gone astray or not been what I ordered.”

Three online stores he frequents – eBay, Amazon, Aliexpress – are interchangeably laptop/mobile experiences, and he has confidence in the process. He does miss going to video and record stores but “increasingly hanging about in brick-and-mortar stores feels like an old-fashioned experience.” The only ones he frequents are computer game exchanges where he needs to be there in person to get bargains.

Writers Opinion Shopping Online

Andrew typically shops online with his laptop, as he does “too much comparison shopping and bargain hunting to do a lot of shopping either offline or on mobile.” Even if he’s physically in a store, he still does a little product research when it comes to price or making major purchases.

Grocery shopping is the exception. He doesn’t particularly like it but just has to go wander the aisles and find what he needs. He used to live in an area with online grocery delivery, but even then he’d still go physically shopping at least once every two weeks.

The problem Simon has with shopping online is that much of his entertainment and work has moved indoors, so he needs more excuses to go out and get some fresh air, making him prefer to go out to buy what he wants If he can find it nearby and at a good price. Yet, usually online prices are cheaper, “so if I can make a substantial savings from ordering online, I’ll take it.”

Sayak regularly buys groceries, clothing, and daily essentials online. While he had relied on a laptop for this, recently he’s been relying more on Android grocery apps. He also started using mobile wallets to pay the tab at restaurants and bars. “Before this I was skeptical about them, but indeed they’re way faster.” While traveling, he’ll only trust cash, except for online bookings. Additionally, he loves the color, commotion, and bargains only a flea market can generate.

The only things I don’t buy online are groceries and drug store items. I’ll get other items while I’m grocery shopping at a big box store as long as I’m there. All else I buy online. Some grocery/drug store items I can’t find in the store, so I rely on Amazon, such as a sweet-tea-flavored tea bags for iced tea. Between my daughter and I, the two of us order enough things that we have things being delivered nearly daily. I no longer use a computer and only use a mobile for everything.

Your Opinion

What are your shopping habits? Do you mostly shop online other than grocery items? Are you still shopping in person for most things or only certain items? Do you prefer to shop online, on your mobile, or at a brick-and-mortar store? Chime in to our conversation in the comments below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. It also depends for me too. *NEVER* will I use my smartphone/mobile anything for it. Everything else though, I’ll often try to see if I can find what I’m looking for online first for the cheapest price *AND* to make sure it’s Made in America if possible (I’m pretty much got everything to about 95% Made in America bought items anymore).

    I only do my grocery shopping at brick and mortar. I like to be able to walk the aisles when grocery shopping as it’s just easier and I get the chance to change my mind on the spot instead of being stuck with something I purchased and would have delivered. The grocery store is where that small 5% of the things I might get aren’t Made in America, as sometimes my disability check and the whole $32/mo of food stamps I get just don’t go very far and I have to substitute once in a while with something non-brand name. I hate doing it because the non-brand name stuff usually tastes bad, but what can I do, heh.

  2. I like to touch, feel, try on anything I buy. It is a royal PITA to exchange items purchased on line because they don’t fit quite right, don’t look exactly the way they did online or just aren’t as what I thought they’ll be.

    I buy groceries in person. That way I am sure that I am getting exactly what I want, at the price I am willing to pay. I would not trust anyone to else to shop for my food. To them it’s just a job. One T-bone steak is pretty much like another one. There is no way I can indicate to a store shopper whether I like more or less marbling. One head of lettuce pretty much like another one. Does a store shopper check for any wilted leaves or does (s)he just throw it into the wagon?
    My wife worked for a supermarket Shop-From-Home service so I am somewhat familiar how shopping is performed by by these shoppers. When I (and other people) shop for themselves, they take their time. Store shoppers work on a quota; they have to fill X number of orders per hour or per day or whatever. This is not conducive to careful shopping.

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