Online shopping is becoming more and more popular every year as people embrace the convenience, selection, and low prices available when they shop online. In this article I talk about some of the pros and cons of shopping online.
There’s something to be said for walking into a physical store and being able to easily see, touch and ask questions about a product. It could be argued that physical shopping is a more engaging experience, often filled with some form of background music, along with the sights and sounds of other customers and employees available to provide assistance when needed. Different products can be compared side by side with very little effort. One of the benefits of physical shopping is its organization, which makes locating the right department and the right shelf quite easy. Everything the store offers is available through a simple and logical department layout. Online sites provide organizational design and text search capabilities, but this different way of locating a product of interest is a difference from online shopping that takes some getting used to. Other benefits of brick front shopping is being able to get out of the house, get some exercise, get some fresh air, and avoid cabin fever (this type of activity was pretty important in the winter when I lived in Chicago ).
People who are naturally cautious may find certain features of online shopping a bit difficult to get used to, such as acclimating to what would be the equivalent of searching for merchandise with tunnel blinders that only allow a very limited view of what is on the market. directly ahead. of one’s eyes. Physical stores are physically arranged so that certain items are more likely to be seen more than others. Online stores also focus on certain products over others. Most websites contain product descriptions, but the descriptions can be too general or too detailed, making it difficult to compare two or more products on features. If the shopper has a question that is appropriate for a human being, such as a store clerk, where does the online customer go to ask the question? Something is lost in not having an informed person available to give an immediate response. Many popular online shopping sites now provide customer reviews, independent reviews provided by customers who have purchased each product. These reviews go a long way in providing enough detailed information about a product for one to determine whether or not to buy it.
In the US, websites and online shopping malls address the limitations encountered in the online shopping process by offering a return policy that is close enough to a no questions asked return policy to ensure customer happiness at all times. line. Still, one drawback to shopping online is having to wait to get the product, depending on the shipping method selected. If a product needs to be refunded or returned for any reason, there is the inconvenience of returning the product. This often involves a phone call and a trip to the local post office, after which one waits again for a replacement or refund. Compare this to simply sending the item and receipt to a local store and having a refund or exchanged product within minutes.
Let’s talk about security. In a physical store, cash can be used, and if a debit or credit card is used, the shopper can see who processes their card. Also, one is generally not required to provide personal information such as a name and physical address. The same is not true for online purchases, as the item must be addressed and delivered to one person at one address. Cash cannot be used online, so what entity processes the card and captures the personal information via the web? And how well is personal information protected? One way to greatly reduce risk when shopping online is to use virtual credit card numbers. These numbers are provided by credit card issuers such as Citi and Discover, and can only be used once, so even if credit card information is captured by some other entity during the transaction, it cannot be used to complete a transaction. second purchase. I use virtual credit card numbers when shopping online and recommend this practice.
Let’s look at the benefits of shopping online. If the four-wheeler in one’s driveway is expensive to load, then it is an obvious advantage to be able to shop on the virtual market and save transportation costs. It’s also a “greener” arrangement: computers emit little or no carbon, even when they’re turned on. For those who find dealing with crowds exhausting, there are none in cyberspace and no lines to wait during checkout. The magical online domain has no weather to hinder it, either: all purchases are made within a protected environment, safe from inclement weather. And there’s no need to worry about keeping kids together and in sight when shopping online. But perhaps the best feature of all is the cost savings that can be realized online. Most of the time, items online can be purchased and shipped for much less, because the price does not include the overhead costs associated with having a physical store. In most cases, there is also no sales tax, unless the merchant maintains some type of physical presence in the state where the item is purchased. For example, Amazon.com only charges sales tax on orders shipping to Kansas, North Dakota, New York, or Washington, and Overstock.com only charges sales tax on orders shipping to Utah. To sweeten the deal, many merchants offer special online coupons, coupon codes, and promotional codes that provide additional discounts.
As an example of the money that can be saved by shopping online, I purchased a “Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus” food processor and used the online shopping comparison engine at Shopzilla.com to find the best deal, which was at Etronics.com for $172 excluding sales tax and free shipping. A local Sears store had it listed at $199.99 and would have collected about $16 in sales tax for a total of $216. In this particular case, I saved $44 (20%) by shopping online and using Shopzilla to have online stores compete for my business. And it only took about 10 minutes of effort. With the advent of cheaper computing and increasing levels of competition online, people are generally getting used to accessing the world through the eyes of cyberspace. So that’s what’s coming, and a tide that probably won’t turn. We as a society have adapted to other significant changes over time, such as the advent and convenience of air travel, trains, and cars on horses, and online shopping is another paradigm shift to which we will adapt
In short, when you look at the pros and cons of shopping online, the pros outweigh the cons, especially for items that are widely available and for which you’re looking for the best price. Shoppers save time and money buying what they need online, and online store owners can run their businesses with much less overhead. The fact that the pros outweigh the cons is evident when looking at the sharp increases in online shopping that have occurred globally in recent years.