Plusses and minuses of shopping online.

Today, shopping online is incredibly popular, equal to winning a Sloto Cash bonus. Practically everyone does it, for at least some things.  According to a US Census Bureau report approximately $250 billion was spent in the first part of 2022 for sales in retail e-commerce.  In the second part of 2011, for instance, the retail e-commerce sales were a mere $47.5 billion which shows just how much of an increase there has been.

Technology has advanced considerably and therefore shopping online has become very easy and incredibly convenient. Shopping online gives you access to a greater selection of products and services that would be hard to find in one physical store in your high street.

However, there are a number of things to keep in mind when shopping online. There are definitely benefits but also some drawbacks.  Below we take a look at some of these.

Key points

  • Shopping online is very convenient and means you have a larger choice of products than when shopping at your local store.
  • Shopping online gives you quick access to products, prices and reviews so you are able to compare and see where it is best to buy.
  • Shopping online means waiting for the item to be delivered to you.  This may also mean you need to pay more than buying in your local store.
  • When shopping online there is more risk of fraud.  Buying at your local store there is less change of this occurring.

Pros of online shopping

Let’s look at some of the pros of shopping online.  No more working your shopping time into store hours and hours of your free time.  Take a quick break at work, check a few sites (or stick with your fav), click, click, click and you’re done.  Did you remember suddenly at 3 in the morning that you’re about to run out of shampoo – no problem – click, click, click and your package is delivered to your door within as little as 24 hours or less.  Let’s look more closely….

The convenience of shopping on line

Shopping online is incredibly convenient.  It is probably the biggest benefit. Using your computer or smartphone you can access so many different options, products and services – far more than you could in a regular street store.

This is obviously the biggest benefit. From the comfort of your home you are able to buy anything you want.  And you can do this 24 hours a day anywhere where there is internet.  You are not limited to the regular hours of your local store.

Bigger selection and choice

Buying online means that you are entering the digital space.  Buying online means that the online retailers are not restricted to the amount of space needed for products like high street store and therefore they can supply a much bigger range of products.   Location is also not an issue as you are purchasing online and therefore you are not restricted by the products available in your high street store.

Access to information concerning products/services

When you shop online, it is likely that there will be more information about the product you want to buy.  Often in a regular store the sales person has a limited amount of information.  Online you are able to research your product and get recommendations for similar products and read reviews and compare prices of different products.  Purchasing in this way means you are able to make a more informed decision.

Another benefit when buying online is that many online retailers will offer membership to consumers.  This means that you can get notified of upcoming sales of the brands that you are interested in purchasing.

Cons of online shopping

There are also some drawbacks when it comes to shopping online.  Sometimes there are hidden costs and there is a higher risk of fraud occurring.   Purchasing online also means that you are not able to physically check the item you are buying and also you do have to wait for delivery.

Possible higher purchase price

There are several reasons why online buying may cost more.   Many online retailers do offer free shipping but often in order to benefit from this you need to be spending a minimum amount.   Also many online retailers use a variety of strategies in order to have you purchase more items, perhaps more expensive ones, than if you were in your local high street store.

There is also the question of internet sales tax which may be required depending on where you live.  Some states in the US for instance, like Texas require that you pay tax on out-of-state purchases that arrive in Texas or even on items that are bought from online-only retailers.

Beware that some online retailers use strategies to encourage consumers to impulse buy. These might include using “pop-up sales” or “limited time”.  It is also known that retailers can use fake customer reviews or messages that encourage you to buy more expensive products.

Higher risk of fraud

Scams exist everywhere and unfortunately also online.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported in February 2022 that online shopping was the fourth most common type of fraud for consumers.    These online scams often involve fake retailers who create fake websites or fake advertisements on real websites.

The FTC is trying to help with recommendations for how to be safe buying online – read more here.

It is recommended that you always use a credit card and not a debit card.  This way you can report the fraud to the credit card company.    It is also better to stay away from online retailers who will accept payment using money transfers, cryptocurrency or gift cards.   Using these methods allows scammers to access your money faster so it is best to avoid them.

Waiting for your product to arrive

When you visit your local high street store you can purchase your item and walk away with it. Buying online you are often waiting weeks, sometimes longer for your item to arrive.    This can be very frustrating.  If you need the item quickly or it is a gift, it may well be better to buy in your local store and in person.