Things aren’t the same when compared to online stores and physical stores. While they have advantages of their own, is also true with disadvantages.
When I go to a physical store or a shop, I look at the person there and the demand begins with a human interaction. There is a gesture of friendliness which also acts as a key for the store owner to maintain a friendly relation and pull back the customer next time. When the shop line is online, it’s entirely finger work.
A physical store might not have everything at display. The owner does not risk at buying everything. Some might be kept for display based on buying patterns; some might be stacked in the warehouse, while some might be purchased and delivered based on the order. An online shop has this advantage that they can display anything and everything in the world that they want to.
An online store can customize the shop based on individual user, which a physical shop can never do. An online store could be completely based on the recommendation of an individual user.
The distinction between physical and on-line worlds has been called as the long tail phenomenon. Long tail is not a new concept. We have applied it here for the recommendation systems.
In a nutshell,
Like pointed out in the figure, ‘long tail’ refers to the yellow part. The head part represents those which have dominated our market and culture. The yellow part is the niches which is the new growth for now and the future.
Traditional retail stores stock only the head because of the limited space. Online retailers can stock everything, virtually.
Long tail, as popularly quoted: (in retail and marketing) used to refer to the large number of products that sell in small quantities, as contrasted with the small number of best-selling products.