Brick & Mortar Vs E-Commerce Collections


28 June 2023

Brick & Mortar Vs E-Commerce Collections

In this digital day and age, there has been much debate over the looming death of brick-and-mortar stores. Let us dive deep into this hotly debated topic and determine the differences between your average e-commerce shopper and the physical shopper, as well as what you need to consider when designing a collection for either the online or physical market.


Traditionally, brick-and-mortar stores only sell their products in physical locations, and for many young brands having an entire store of their own is out of budget therefore they rely on retailers. Contrarily, an e-commerce brand is one where your customer shops from you directly online, via a website or social media platform. There are no opening or closing times online which allows for customer flexibility to shop at any time of day, as well as the convenience to have your order delivered directly to your home. At a physical store, the shopper would have to coordinate with the shop’s opening and closing times and carry their purchase with them until they return home.


A traditional e-comm shopper may have less time on their hands, shop at random times of the day and seek convenience as well as practicality over a considered or lengthy decision-making process.

The brick-and-mortar shopper will carve out the time in their schedule to physically browse products in-store. They will often journey to specific brands and retailers to make an executive purchase decision based on a more tangible and thought-through process.


The customer who prefers to buy physically is likely one who needs a bit more convincing to buy. This person pays more attention to the quality of the product as they want a tangible experience before betting their money on it! They are also a person who (if we are talking retail) puts much more importance on the fit of the product. This customer will take the opportunity to try on the product if allowed and debate from there. Selling your collection in-store requires a comprehensive range of products, so for smaller collections or more limited ranges, a brick-and-mortar store may not be the best option. 

Also, if you are designing a collection intending to sell in-store, you are actually designing for the retailer rather than the customer and need to consider the retailer’s needs. You must understand their customer types and design with the intention of appealing to them, as well as include at least 3-4 different designs that will look splendid when displayed on a hanger or mannequin along with complimenting the rest of the garments in the collection. The benefits of selling with a retailer are that you can plan your production using the retailer’s current sales performance plus your brand has access to customers and publicity through the retailer’s already well-established channels.


Your digital customer is likely more adventurous. When placing an order, this customer is betting that this product will not only look but also feel good, solely based on the information provided through your marketing, website and product descriptions. This shopper is a lot more daring and maybe less considerate about quality. Since the pandemic, e-commerce has developed to meet the needs of the consumer which is usually their convenience.

 A lot of sites in 2022 now offer a virtual fitting room where consumers can input their measurements and see how they will look in the garments – without ever touching or seeing the item in reality! Sites that do not yet implement 3D assets and virtual reality will at least have a size guide, so thorough customers can check if their desired product will fit. 

When designing a collection for e-commerce, it is essential to remember that you will be selling your products directly to the consumer. Therefore, you need to thoroughly research and identify your target customers and ensure your designs meet their needs. 



According to Forbes, e-commerce shares jumped at the start of the pandemic to 25.5% in April 2020, nearly 6% above its recent trend, as online sales surged due to shoppers unable to head in-store. This sharp rise in online sales fueled fears of a rapid decline in brick-and-mortar retail. However, Forbes stated in their December 2021 monthly retail trade report that brick-and-mortar stores grew faster than e-commerce for the first time, with physical stores growing at 18.5% versus e-commerce growth of 14.2%. Furthermore, 2021 was one of the strongest years in US retail history, growing more than twice as fast as the previous 30 years.


Although e-commerce is convenient and easy to make purchases, there is nothing more persuasive than enticing the human senses through the tangible and intangible experiences you can get through a physical shop. When shopping in an atmospheric environment and with the insurance that what you are buying fits properly and looks flattering, it’s a more satisfying experience for the customer. 

This rising battle between e-comm and physical shopping has brought on a lot of new innovative shopping methods. These two modes of shopping have a new competitor coming to the market; virtual reality shopping. Brands can now utilise 3D assets and the Metaverse to reach beyond other real-world shopping experiences we have ever known. 



At BWL, we can help you identify your customers’ wants and needs more accurately through our services and brand analysis overview, allowing you to judge which channel is best suited to you and your customer. We can also help you build and design the perfect collection depending on what selling channel you have decided on as your digital consumers’ preferences will often differ from your physical shopper. 

Additionally, we have the skills and experience to support website art direction, working with you to build your dream e-commerce website. We can design the layout, ensuring easy site navigation for your customer, as well as provide full website copy, adhering to your brand identity and tone. 


To learn more about how BWL can help support your brand and guide you to make the best decisions for your business, check out our case studies.

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What is Brands of Tomorrow?

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.

What is Brands of Tomorrow

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.