Online shopping can be done for almost any market today and at a much cheaper price, due to the drastic decrease in overhead costs online retailers can generate. This commercial medium has paved the way for many new and innovative business opportunities, creating a healthy level of competition between businesses, and reaching a wider and more global audience. However, many traditional “brick-and-mortar” segments still only have a modest presence on the web, due to certain constraints and regulations they face. However, here are three traditionally offline markets that have made the transition to online success.
Pharmacies have existed online since the turn of the millennium but only just recently started growing as an industry. Online pharmacies, like Drugstore.com are becoming popular alternatives, in both price and convenience, to community pharmacies. And while a majority of online pharmacies still uphold the prescription requirement the Internet has enabled yet another market to grow strong. (Also, see my post on how to save money on prescriptions)
To bypass the pre-written prescription requirement enforced by most national pharmacies Americans have for years traveled to Canada and Mexico. But now there are several online pharmacies that sell medication without requiring any pre-written prescriptions.
These drugstores have internal physicians to determine consumer eligibility to buy prescription free drugs and have become a convenient, if somewhat dubious, alternative for millions of Americans than cannot afford to get a prescription from a doctor. The drugs sold by these pharmacies are produced outside the U.S, in Europe, Canada, Mexico or India, thus not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
Matters to do with vision impairments have long been restricted to the offline optometric market. And while parts like eye examinations will always belong to real-life local eye doctors, purchasing corrective eyewear online has become a money saver for many.
Local opticians normally sell contact lenses and glasses to their patients. With regard to contact lenses, opticians buy them directly from the manufacturer, then re-brand the products (putting their own stamp on it) and increase the price significantly to make a profit.
Online contact lens stores and price comparison guides offer the same contact lenses as local opticians, but in original packaging and at a much cheaper price. This is possible not because online contact lens shops and guides settle for less profit, but because they simply have less overhead expenses than the average “offline” business.
Still requiring a pre-written prescription from a licensed eye doctor, online contact lens guides will offer the cheapest prices on the market and direct product shipping to the consumer’s doorstep.
Make-up products and fashion items are the third example where the online market exceeds traditional stores in affordable prices. Well-established amongst younger consumers, sites like Beauty.com not only offer a wide range of cheap beauty products from all the top brands, but have also become a warehouse brand for beauty products. Whatever is missing in any local make-up store, barbershop, fitness club or fragrance section can be found online, to cheaper prices and free shipping.
Where do you shop online that saves you money over traditional brick and mortar shopping?