Online shopping is defined as the act of purchasing services or buying goods over the internet. It is a way to shop for multiple items or compare the rates of service providers from the comfort of home or on a personal mobile device.
The benefit of shopping online is that it saves time because there isn’t a need to travel to a physical store. Some customers may save money as well, when the cost of an internet connection or data plan is compared to the wear-and-tear costs of a vehicle traveling to a store.
The disadvantage of shopping online is that you cannot see the physical product being purchased or meet the service provider in-person. One must trust that the description of the goods or services is accurate so that personal needs can be met.
Here are some additional key online shopping pros and cons to discuss.
What Are the Pros of Online Shopping?
1. It is easy to compare prices.
Multiple websites often sell the same product. Imagine needing to travel to Walmart to check on the price of a board game and then needing to travel to Target for a comparison. Thanks to the internet, both stores can have their websites pulled up in a separate tab so that the prices can be instantly compared.
2. Customers have more access to a variety of products.
There are no local restrictions in place when shopping online. Consumers can shop globally for the goods or services that they want or need. Although shipping costs for international purchases will be higher and delays of up to 12 weeks may occur, there are few limitations. That means there is a greater variety to the shopping process.
3. There are no checkout lines to worry about.
Shopping online is simple and easy. Just add the wanted goods or services to the shopping cart on that website and then checkout when ready. The desired items are itemized with clear pricing. Sales taxes are automatically populated, though some purchases may not require taxes to be charged. Shipping charges, if they apply, are automatically calculated as well.
4. Sending gifts to others is cheaper when shopping online.
Traditional shopping requires customers to purchase an item, package it up, and then pay for shipping so that it can be delivered as a gift. When shopping online, customers only need to change the shipping address to have the package delivered. With a service like Amazon Prime, that means free shipping.
5. Products sold online are often cheaper than those sold in stores.
To encourage online shopping, many stores offer discounts on products purchased online compared to products purchased in their stores.
What Are the Cons of Online Shopping?
1. Products can’t be tried before they are purchased.
If someone is unsure of how much value a product may have, there is no way to relieve that concern when shopping online. Clothes or shoes cannot be tried on. Electronics cannot be verified until they are received. That means there is a certain risk to an online purchase, even if the product description is accurate.
2. There may be shipping costs or delays.
Many websites offer free shipping, but only if the order meets a purchasing threshold, such as $75. Other sites charge a flat shipping fee for every order, no matter what. At the same time, the availability of the product may not be what the website reflects. You may pay for an order, only to receive a message that it is backordered or unavailable. A refund is then processed, but that could take 5-30 business days to complete.
3. There is no guarantee of delivery.
Websites rely on third-party shipping companies to deliver their products. There is no guarantee provided that the product will arrive in usable condition. Insurance, returns, and replacements are usually provided, but if these options must be used, it delays a customer’s use of that item. When you go to a store, you know exactly what you’re bringing home that day.
4. Shipping charges can be higher than the product cost.
The item a customer wants to purchase is $4.95. The cost to ship that item is $5.95. That means the consumer cost of shopping online is more than double for that item when compared to shopping in-person.
These online shopping pros and cons show that this process is usually beneficial to companies and consumers. Prices are typically cheaper, shipping is fast, and the products arrive in good condition. There are times, however, when online shopping can also be a negative experience.
What is the best deal you have ever found while shopping online?