Top 10 Benefits of Online Shopping (and 10 Disadvantages)
Advantages of Online Shopping
The Internet has revolutionized the way we shop. Because of the numerous advantages and benefits, more and more people these days prefer buying things online over the conventional method of going into stores.
What are some reasons that many people love online shopping and why is it so popular? Below are my top ten reasons for shopping online.
Pros and Cons of Shopping Online
Advantages of Shopping Online
Disadvantages of Shopping Online
Negative Environmental Impact of Packaging and Gas
Shipping Problems and Delays
Risk of Fraud
Easy to Send Gifts
Less Contact With Your Community
Spending Too Much Time Online
Easy Price Comparisons
Returns Can Be Complicated
You Don't Know Exactly What You're Getting
No Sales Pressure
Unfriendly, Scammy, or Complicated Websites
Access to Used or Damaged Inventory
No Sales Assistance
Privacy for Discreet Purchases
No Support for Local Retailers
10 Benefits of Shopping Online
- Convenience. Convenience is the biggest perk. Where else can you comfortably shop at midnight while in your pajamas? There are no lines to wait in or cashiers to track down to help you with your purchases, and you can do your shopping in minutes. Online shops give us the opportunity to shop 24/7, and also reward us with a ‘no pollution’ shopping experience. There is no better place to buy informational products like e-books, which are available to you instantly, as soon as the payment goes through. Downloadable items purchased online eliminate the need for any kind of physical material at all, as well, which helps the environment!
- Better prices. Cheap deals and better prices are available online, because products come to you direct from the manufacturer or seller without involving middlemen. Plus, it's easier to compare prices and find a better deal. Many online sites offer discount coupons and rebates, as well. Not only are prices better, but you can save on tax as well, since online shops are only required to collect a sales tax if they have a physical location in your state. Factor in the saved expense of gas and parking and you have saved yourself a lot of money!
- More variety. The choices online are amazing. You can find almost any brand or item you're looking for. You can get in on the latest international trends without spending money on airfare. You can shop from retailers in other parts of the state, country, or even world instead of being limited to your own geography. A far greater selection of colors and sizes than you will find locally are at your disposal. Plus, the stock is much more plentiful, so you'll always be able to find your size and color. Some online shops even accept orders for out-of-stock items and ship when they come in.
- You can send gifts more easily. Sending gifts to relatives and friends is easy, no matter where they are. All the packaging and shipping is done for you. Oftentimes, they'll even gift wrap it for you! Now, there is no need to make distance an excuse for not sending a gift on occasions like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and so forth.
- More control. Many times, when we opt for conventional shopping, we tend to spend a lot more than planned and end up buying items that aren't exactly what we wanted (but we can't find anything better in the store). Online, you don't have to let the store's inventory dictate what you buy, and you can get exactly what you want and need.
- Easy price comparisons. Comparing and researching products and their prices is so much easier online. If you're shopping for appliances, for example, you can find consumer reviews and product comparisons for all the options on the market, with links to the best prices. We can research firsthand experience, ratings, and reviews for most products and retailers.
- No crowds. If you are like me, you hate crowds when you're shopping. Especially during holidays, festivals, or on weekends, they can be such a huge headache. Also, being crushed in the crowds of shoppers sometimes makes us feel rushed or hurried. You don't have to battle for a parking place. All of these problems can be avoided when you shop online.
- No pressure. Oftentimes when we're out shopping, we end up buying things that we don't really need, all because shopkeepers pressure us or use their selling skills to compel us to make these purchases.
- You can buy used or damaged items at lower prices. The marketplace on the Internet gives us access to listings of old or damaged items at rock bottom prices. Also, if we want to buy antiques, there's no better place to find great ones.
- Discreet purchases are easier. Some things are better done in the privacy of your home. Online shops are best for discreet purchases for things like adult toys, sexy lingerie, and so on. This enables me to purchase undergarments and lingerie without embarrassment or any paranoia that there are people watching or judging me.
Additional Benefits of Shopping Online
- You get an electronic record of the receipt of your purchase, which makes record-keeping much easier.
- You get to try things on in the comfort of your own home.
- Sometimes, returns are easy.
- It saves time!
What do you like best about online shopping?
10 Disadvantages of Online Shopping
- Negative environmental impact of packaging and gas. Having your purchase packed in several layers of plastic and cardboard packaging and delivered right to your front door is good for you, but not so great for the environment. Even if you try to recycle the cardboard, you're creating unnecessary waste by shopping online.
- Shipping problems and delays. Even the biggest and best shipping companies and online retailers have their bad days, so there's no way to ensure that you'll get your hands on your purchase in time unless you pick it up from a store. Items get lost, detoured, damaged, or delivered to the wrong address more often than you can imagine.
- Risk of fraud. If you're shopping online, there's a larger risk of fraud: credit card scams, phishing, hacking, identity theft, counterfeit products, bogus websites, and other scams are common.
- Spending too much time online. Especially if your job requires that you look at a computer all day, you might get burnt out on all that screen time. Shopping online can turn into a marathon of scrolling and clicking down rabbit holes and before you know it, you've been online for most of the day. The internet is a nice place to visit, but you probably don't want to live there.
- Less contact with community. If you do all your business online, you'll never have to leave your home. This might be great for awhile but sometimes, you might want to go outside, breathe some fresh air, get a change of scenery, talk to real people, participate in your community, and just be a part of the crowd. Sometimes, a computer monitor can't compete with a real human connection.
- You don't know exactly what you're getting. Unless you are intimately familiar with a brand or product, buying online requires a leap of faith... one that doesn't always end in your favor. Sizes are often imprecise. You can't determine texture, fabric, fit, cut, quality, heft, or durability just by looking at a photo. Products that looked great might feel chintzy, awkward, or cheap when you hold them in your hands.
- Returns can be complicated. Some sellers make the process breezy, but many make it extra hard for you to return their merchandise or get a refund. Many times, you can't get reimbursed for any shipping costs. Labeling, packaging, shipping, tracking, and filling out all the proper forms is a hassle you can avoid if you buy in person (and if you hand-select your merchandise, you won't need to return things so often).
- Unfriendly, scammy, or complicated websites. Some sites require that you join their mailing list and make it impossible to unsubscribe. Some sell your email address to others, so your email is full of ads. Sometimes, sites don't offer good or accurate descriptions of the goods, or you just can't figure out how to purchase or return an item or speak to customer service.
- No sales assistance. In a store, there's usually someone to help you but online, you're on your own. If you're confused or have questions, it's just too bad for you. You might have to make blind purchases and mistakes you'll regret later because there was no one to talk to.
- No support for local retailers. If everyone started doing all their shopping online, all the local stores would go out of business. When all the stores in town are gone, we'll have to drive further and further away to shop at a real store. Many people and places have already experienced the negative and sometimes devastating impacts of e-commerce which take away jobs and devastate local economies.
Best and Worst Things to Buy Online
Things You Should Buy Online
Things You Should Buy In a Store
Electronics (new or refurbished)
Anything you can haggle for to get a better price
Medicine (cheaper and easier, especially when you're sick)
Medicine (watch out for online scams and expired or fake meds)
Clothing (if you know exactly what color, style, and size you want)
Clothing (when you want to touch, try on, and inspect)
Baby supplies (diapers, formula, food)
Anything that should be experienced first (mattresses, furniture, blankets, etc.)
Pet food (cheaper and easier, especially in bulk)
Really heavy items (with pricey shipping costs)
Books (if you know exactly what you want)
Books (if you want to browse, talk to the bookseller, and support your local bookstore so they don't go out of business)
A used car (cheaper and easier without a dealer, unless you need financing)
Anything you might need to return
Groceries (if you don't have time)
Groceries (if you like to choose what you eat and support your local growers and grocers)
Holiday Gifts (the gift wrapping, shipping, and convenience can't be beat)
Any product you haven't tried before (perfume, food items, cosmetics, etc.)
Art (sites like Etsy list original, beautiful art direct from the artist)
A pet (of course!)
Prescription or reading glasses (always cheaper and cuter online)
Real estate (of course!)
Questions to Ask When Shopping Online
When you are buying from online stores, make sure that you do the following:
- How long have they been in business? Do they have negative or positive reviews from customers?
- If you’re unhappy with your purchase, do they have a refund policy?
What do you think?
Do the benefits of online shopping outweigh the disadvantages?
© 2008 Anamika S Jain