Online Shopping’s Pros and Cons
Why buy online? Why not buy online? Have you ever considered the pros and cons to shopping at a retail store vs shopping online? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing online...
Advantages Of Shopping Online...
1. Saves Time
If you already know what you’re looking for, shopping online can save you a significant amount of time. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can place your order and move on to other things.
2. Price Comparisons
While shopping online, it is very easy to do price comparisons for a given item. Once you have determined what you want to purchase, you can see if you are getting the best deal with just a few clicks. And making it even easier, there are now search engines specifically designed for price comparisons, and these sites will often even calculate and include any shipping charges, so you get to compare the actual, total cost of the item.
3. Saves Fuel
Fuel prices have been up and down in recent years, but no matter how expensive or inexpensive gasoline might be at any given time, shopping online does not require any driving, so it doesn’t consume any fuel, no matter what the cost.
4. Larger Inventory
With online retailers, it is much easier to find the item, model number, color, style, and size you want. You can also quickly determine whether the item is "in stock" or not. Also, online shopping does not restrict you geographically -- the pool of products and available inventory for you to choose from is vastly larger than those available to you via local retailers within driving distance.
5. Shop 24/7
Online stores are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, all year long. The same claim cannot be made by most (if any) retail stores. Online shopping allows you to shop whenever you want, at your convenience.
6. No Waiting
When purchasing online, there are no long lines that you are forced to stand in line just to make a purchase. In fact, when you purchase online, your wait time will simply be the time required to display the website ordering page.
Disadvantages Of Shopping Online...
1. Shipping Costs
Unless you purchase digital products, there will sometimes be an additional expense to ship your purchases. The shipping cost will often depend on the size and the weight of the item. Many online retailers offer "free" shipping, but only if the cost of your order reaches a certain minimum amount. The additional shipping costs can make the overall cost of purchasing online, especially for larger and heavier items, much less attractive than buying locally.
2. Lack Of Instant Gratification
Unlike retail stores, purchasing online will require some patience after you place your order, while you wait for your order to be packed, shipped, and delivered to you. Unless you are purchasing digital goods that can be "downloaded" immediately, you will have to wait a few days for your order to arrive. You simply can’t walk out of the store with your newly acquired item in-hand.
3. See It, Touch It, Feel It
Some shoppers like being able to see and feel an item, and to test it or try it on prior to purchasing. By actually seeing the item, and being able to physically feel and inspect the item, the purchaser can often make a far more reasonable assessment of the quality. This is difficult to do if you are just looking at an online photo of the item.
4. Personal Data
Some people are concerned about the potential security risks of storing and sharing of their personal data and credit card numbers with online retailers. While this risk is also an issue for local retail stores (and some security experts say an even greater risk), many people feel that purchasing online is an added security risk that they are just not willing to take.
5. No Relationship
When you purchase online, you rarely have the opportunity to build a relationship with the seller. On the other hand, local retail stores are far more likely to form relationships with their customers, simply because of the personal interaction between buyer and seller.
Online support may be limited, or even non-existent, for items purchased online.
7. Defective Items
When trying to deal with defective items purchased online, quite often the only option is to pack the item up and ship it back to the online retailer for a credit or replacement. And the customer is often responsible for any return shipping costs. After waiting a few days for your item to arrive in the first place, this adds even more time to the overall process.
As you can see, each type of shopping has its advantages and disadvantages, so weigh the pros and cons yourself to decide which type best suits your needs.
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Published - June 2011