In 1984, 72-year old Jane Snowball purchased from Tesco´s online service. She was the first ever online shopper. Over the years, e-commerce has grown showing no signs of slowing down, with worldwide retail e-commerce sales predicted to reach $4 trillion by 2020.
People’s insatiable appetite for online shopping continues to grow. When it comes to online shopping, there is always room for more possibilities. More and more people are using their tablets or smartphones for shopping, as many online shops have developed their shopping apps to make online browsing more convenient.
However, all that glitters is not always gold. Online shopping has led to some concerns about security and the ease with which people are spending what they cannot afford.
Advantages of Online Shopping
It saves you time.
Driving to the shopping centre, looking around for the items you like, waiting in line to try something on and then again to pay for your items can sometimes take a whole day. Online shopping unburdens you from the buzzing shops and gives you a more pleasant shopping experience. Families benefit a lot from online shopping as the there is no need to drag your children around the shops.
Comparing the prices saves you money.
Different websites typically have different prices for similar items. If your goal is to get the best deal, comparing prices online is efficient and could save you money. Plus, some website helps you save money. For example, when online grocery shopping, My Supermarket compares prices for you. So, rather than an impulse buy, look it up online and be sure that you are paying the best price for it.
Choosing your own time and location for shopping.
Whether on a holiday or a lunch break, online shopping allows you to shop whenever you want from wherever you are at the moment, as long as you have an internet connection. Unless there are technical difficulties, online shops are 24 hours a day.
Online shops often have tempting discounts that are hard to resist. To keep track of them, many websites now offer a monthly or a weekly newsletter, including all of their news and offers. In case something you want to buy is currently out of stock, you can order a notification that informs when the product is available again.
If you are not a big fan of pushy salespeople, online shopping removes the “middle man”. You can decide, compare and find the best deals at your own pace without feeling uncomfortable or pressured into buying. Additionally, several online shops have made it quick and easy to contact them in case you have any additional questions.
So, what are the disadvantages of online shopping?
You can look, but you can´t touch.
This is probably one of the most significant disadvantages of online shopping. A fantastic deal does not mean you´re always happy with the received product. Pictures are often quite misleading, sizes vary and, the material can be slightly (or entirely) different from the description. There is no guarantee that what you see is what you get.
You have to wait for the goods.
Patience is often the key to online shopping. Depending on your location and the country where you ordered from, delivery may take up to 2–3 weeks or even longer.
Maybe you wish to return or change the order, well sure, but you’ll once again have to wait. This is one aspect to keep in mind when dealing with specific dates you want the order to have arrived.
Don’t order that dress for the event unless you allow ample time!
From fake online shops, auction fraud to shipping and billing fraud – scammers are using various methods to get what they want. Here are few tips to protect yourself from online fraud:
- To spot fake websites, check out the URL of the site. Scammers tend to make sites with a URL very similar to the real one, so make sure you are shopping in the right place.
- Read the seller’s feedback: buyers often leave useful information about their order in the comments section. When it is filled with negative feedback and accusations, it is probably wise not to order from this seller. Plus, be careful with sellers who have no feedback at all or no previous buyers.
- Pay attention to terms and conditions. Auctions and online shops might have slightly different terms that could lead to misunderstandings. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the seller. All reputable sellers always display their contact details.
Problems with shipping.
Depending on your location and where you’re ordering from, shipping charges can be very high. At times the shipping can be more expensive than the item itself. Luckily, these charges are often being calculated in advance and shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Sometimes the quality of a delivery service reflects on your order, as it may arrive squashed or not in perfect shape. Shipping can also be used as a tactic to get customers to spend more than they initially planned. “Free shipping on all orders over £30.” Several online shops have free shipping related campaigns and online shopping carts that calculate how much you need to spend to get free delivery.
It is surprisingly easy to spend a little too much when you’re shopping online. Discounts and attractive pictures pop up on your screen all designed to tempt you into spending more. Ensure you don’t get carried away. As a result, you may have purchased way over your budget. In fact, Britons are not very good at saving money, so be a little more mindful when shopping would help keep your budget under control and save, rather than spend money.
Online shopping has its advantages and disadvantages; although there are concerns, it is undeniable that e-commerce, in general, has a significant impact on local as well as the international economy. Today, online shopping offers practical solutions for businesses and provides customers with an opportunity to shop whenever and wherever they want.
David Bailey-Lauring is a father of three and a small business owner from Brighton & Hove.