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User Experience Analysis: Online vs Physical Shopping

In this article, I explain the user experience an online shopper and offline shopper has, their similarity and differences.


Let’s start by defining the different terms before we dive into the experiences. Physical Shopping is when you go to a mall or store to purchase something. In this case we will focus on Garden City Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (picture above). Online shopping is when you purchase something via an app or website, for the study we will focus on Jumia Website (image below):

I have divided Shopping into five stages:

  • Need/want: a trigger that necessitates you to purchase something
  • Consideration: researching on where to purchase a product and why
  • Purchase decision: having arrived at your purchase place, how do you decide what to buy? What are some of the factors that determine what you purchase?
  • Purchase: Transaction process where you buy/checkout your product
  • Post-purchase evaluation: after purchase, what next?


My friend Amina* had invited my sister and I for her wedding last November. We were so excited until we realized we had nothing to wear. My sister and I discussed how we will buy the dresses.


First, we came up with the pros and cons for online and physical shopping:

Online shopping

  • Time Saving: you do not go to a physical shop, this reduces time wasted such as traffic jams.
  • Convenient: everything can be done at the comfort of your home
  • Better Prices: majority of online stores offer much lower prices
  • Variety: you can shop from anywhere in the world hence you have access to a wide range of products

Physical shopping

  • Immediate: you are able to touch, feel and buy your product immediately, delivery may take longer and encounter delays
  • Customization: you can be able to tamper with the item and tailor it to your needs
  • Trust: you get to interact, face-to-face, with your seller. Online transactions have middle men and one is not able to clearly tell if the site is legitimate or not.
  • Bargaining: Going to a store you can negotiate prices and easy to get discount

I did not want to go through the hassle of shopping at our local mall, but my sister loved shopping at the mall. Therefore, we decided to each do our shopping separately and share our experiences.

Having decided where we will do our shopping, the next step is to narrow down our options. As discussed earlier, we will focus on Garden City Mall and Jumia Website

Purchase decision

Physical Shop Experience

My sister bid me goodbye and boarded a bus to the mall. On arrival, after various security checks, she finally entered the mall. She was overwhelmed by the various shops, most of which had a sales sign by their door.

She asked one of the mall guards to direct her to the clothes shop, who in turn, pointed her to the mall map. From the map she identified some clothes brands on the second floor and proceeded then. Before she could get in, the window display showed her a collection of what clothes she could find in the shop. She then decided to walk into Woolworths (image above)

The shop had a different aisle with labels and the shop attendant was able to help her with whatever she wanted.

Online shopping experience

At arriving on the Jumia Website:, I am met with a call to subscribe to their website followed by different ads on top sales.

Having no interest in the ads (which are very tempting, for instance spending $5 dollars on food delivery from Chicken Inn), I try to locate where to find the clothes using the menu on the left:

From there, I scroll to find the best dress for the wedding. The filter option enables me to narrow my options depending on: price, size, colour, material family etc. The option helps greatly in narrowing my choices!


Physical Shop Experience

After trying out different clothes and finding one that fit her tastes, she proceeded to the cashier to check out. While there, she bargained with the cashier who agreed to give her a 10% discount. She paid using mobile money(Mpesa) and proceeded to leave the store.

Online Shopping experience

Once I settled on a dress that suited my tastes and needs, I decided to add it to my cart. I continued shopping to see if I was missing anything. After which I went to my cart and proceeded to checkout

After which I paid using mobile money and waited patiently for the delivery which came by after a month as the product was shipped from abroad

Post-purchase evaluation

As an online shopper, I had to wait a month to receive my dress, and in case it had any discrepancies in quality I would not be able to tell until I received my product.

My sister on the other hand came back home with a dress in hand and did a runway for us to admire the dress .


The experience of shopping online and offline is quite similar yet different. While shopping, the main element is trust, something which online shops have introduced in the form of ratings and product reviews. Will I shop online again? Definitely, the convenience is amazing.

* This is just a fictitious story.
* All photos from Jumia are a screenshot of their current website
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