In this post, I want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping over in-store shopping.
Did you know that buying online for most items is actually cheaper than buying them in-store?
If you are therefore not buying online you could be missing out on some amazing bargains.
The world is changing and changing fast. It is only a matter of time before most brick and mortar will close as they are losing business to online retailers.
This is why most retailers such as Walmart and others are now trying to improve their online presence.
To be honest they have no choice as they have already lost a lot of business to online retailers such as Amazon.
According to an NPR/Marist poll, two-thirds of Americans have bought something on Amazon and 40% of them buy once or more a month on Amazon.
No wonder Amazon has within two decades grown from nothing to one of the biggest companies in America based on market capitalization.
It is actually among the top three companies by market value. In August 2019 the top three companies were 1. Apple ($961 billion) 2. Microsoft ($946.5 billion) 3. Amazon.com ($916.1billion).
As more and more people become acquainted with the internet this trend will continue to grow from strength to strength.
According to statista.com in 2017 e-commerce sales accounted for 9 percent of all retail sales in the United States.
The expectation is that in 2020 this figure will grow to 12.4 percent. This is a huge increase when you consider that in 2004 only 5.7 percent of sales were done online.
Why has Online shopping increased?
Delivery problems sorted out
Online shopping has increased very much because more and more retailers have improved their delivery issues.
In the past, it took “ages” for the goods to be delivered to customers. I remember a time when you had to wait for days to have a small item like a pressing iron to be delivered to you.
Nowadays it only takes a day or two in most cases. As an Amazon Prime member, I am usually amazed at how fast Amazon is able to deliver items to me.
A few months ago I bought an electronic item and Amazon delivered the item to me the following day.
That is how good retailers have become. While Amazon is doing well in this area other retailers still have a long way to go to improve their delivery items.
It is really frustrating to wait for five to seven working days to receive something that you urgently need.
This is especially true in the case of companies that do not have their own delivery vans and therefore rely on the post office.
Trust in Credit Card Security
Another reason why online shopping has increased is that customers have learned to trust companies to keep safe their credit card details.
We are slowly but surely to believe in the credit card security systems for most companies.
While hacking is still a big issue these cases are not as prevalent as they were at the beginning of this internet age.
Most of us also know that it is easy to get back your money in case of fraud as the law favors the consumer in most cases.
Federal limits your liability for any fraudulent activities using your card.
For instance, if you lose your card and report it to the issuer you will only be responsible for $50 of any fraudulent purchases.
Further, you will not be responsible for any fraudulent activities on your card that happen after you have reported the matter to your credit card company.
Advantages of Online Shopping Over In-store Shopping
Below are some of the advantages of online shopping.
It is cheaper
As I have already pointed out earlier most people are not aware that buying things in a store is actually very expensive.
You will be surprised that buying electronic and electrical things online, for example, is actually cheaper even if you add the postage costs.
In some cases, you could actually shave off a quarter of the price just by deciding to buy online.
One of the reasons this is the case is that it is easy to shop around online than moving from one brick and mortar shop to another.
I know most of us are more accustomed to Amazon.com and sometimes don’t visit other sites.
This is a mistake as there are all sorts of internet-based shops both at home and in Asia that may offer even cheaper prices for some items.
It is therefore important that before you buy anything that you shop around first.
I have often discovered that sites like Alibaba have some fantastic offers for electronic items.
The only drawback could be that it might take a few more days before you get your ordered items. It sometimes takes weeks to go get some items.
But I have learned in life that it is important to do a sort of cost-benefit analysis first.
Where money is involved maybe it is better to ignore the waiting times and focus on the cost savings you will make.
It is easier to search for bargains
In these days of comparison sites, it is becoming easier to find bargains.
You just need to visit these sites and search for the items that you want.
These sites will provide you with all the information you need and more.
They will provide you with the technical comparisons that you might easily have ignored.
I remember recently I was looking for an internet service provider in my area and I visited one of these sites.
The results on this site not only provided me with the price but also some important details.
It provided me with the speed of the internet specific to my area.
There was also a comparison of the contract terms.
This information that I would have failed to get if I called the internet providers myself.
Online Shops are available 24/7
One of the major advantages of online shopping is that you can do it 24/7.
You are therefore not restricted by opening and closing times.
This means that you can do the shopping at a time that is convenient for you.
I literally hate having to dress up and live the comfort of my home and visit some shops which in my case are a bit far from my house.
And I know that that is true for most of you.
Plenty of time to think through your shopping
When shopping online you have all the time in the world to review everything before your final decision.
There is no one trying to influence you or to pressure you to buy anything.
You are therefore more likely to make a correct or better decision than when buying in-store.
As an individual, I am easily persuaded by salespersons than I would like sometimes.
And the drawback of this is that you are only getting one side of the story.
However online you can easily have a picture of the offers from various sites if you use the comparison sites.
They are very few in this world who can make a good decision when under pressure.
One of the reasons I hate going shopping is the time it takes.
For most people shopping in-store means being away from home for at least an hour. It is even longer if you have to do some window shopping.
I would rather use that time for other things such as updating my blog than shopping, to be honest.
It is a different matter when it comes to my spouse who enjoys shopping.
Disadvantages of Online Shopping Over In-Store Shopping
Below are some advantages of online shopping over in-store shopping.
Some online retailers take long to deliver ordered items
While delivery items have improved greatly for the major online retailers such as Amazon.com most regular retailers are there yet.
Amazon.com has upped its game recently that in some cases you can get your ordered items within two days.
You can buy an item this morning and will get it the following morning.
Unfortunately, most retailers who depend on others to deliver the items are not as efficient as Amazon.com.
One, therefore, has to take this into account when ordering urgent items.
In such cases then maybe the best alternative is just to buy them from a brick and mortar shop.
Inability to view and feel the items first before you buy
One of the weaknesses or disadvantages of online shopping is that you don’t have the ability to view and feel the items.
Feeling and viewing items is especially important to me when it comes to fresh vegetables, etc.
I find it difficult to have another person just pick anything and send it to me.
While there may not be serious quality issues I still feel that I need to have some control over this.
This is however not a problem if you are buying standard items such as electrical and electronic items as they are all the same anyway.
I do not necessarily have to view and feel a DVD or a vacuum cleaner before I buy it. The online pictures are all that we need in these cases.
Most retailers nowadays will even provide videos besides the high-quality pictures of these items anyway.
Therefore no inspection is needed in these cases.
Worries about cyber-fraud
While most people trust sites such as Amazon.com, we still have a long way to go before we trust newer sites.
I guess this could be one of the reasons that Amazon.com is dominating this area.
Most people don’t want to share their credit card details online for fear of online fraud.
To be honest their fear is not completely misplaced as there have been some major hacking incidents that have led to the leak of millions of credit card details.
However, statistically, credit card cyber fraud is nothing compared to other credit card frauds.
Another thing that I have already pointed out earlier in this post is the fact that in case of fraud it is easy to claim your money from the credit card issuer.
The law favors the consumer in these cases.
Lose the ability to haggle over the price
The more we do our shopping online the less the chances of haggling over the price and payment terms.
And as I have pointed out in a previous post it is our loss of haggling skills that have led to people overpaying for goods and services.
The loss of this ability has lead to people missing out on some amazing bargains.
There are all sorts of bargains to be had from things and services such things as insurance and car sales.
Haggling at the moment is best done in a brick and mortar shop.
The more we move to online shopping the less haggling there will be. This will only benefit the retailers as the prices will almost always be fixed.
This is not good news for consumers.
You lose the human interaction in shopping
One of the disadvantages of modern technology is that we are missing out on human interaction when it comes to shopping.
I am originally from Africa and I know that in the rural areas, markets serve as a place for both shopping and meeting friends and relatives.
In the villages people will take hours and hours chatting with friends at markets besides the shopping experience.
Here in the west it is a bit different but there is some level of interaction at brick and mortar shops which is lost when you do online shopping.
That is not a good thing as you can miss out on things like getting more information about a product.
While retailers do their best in providing information on items online, consumers may still have questions that may not be addressed online.
All these questions can easily be dealt with in a brick and mortar shop.
As already stated for most standard items there are more advantages of online shopping over in-store shopping than disadvantages.
Those that are not shopping online are missing out on some amazing savings or bargains.
While online shopping does not work out well when it comes to fresh foods, shoes, etc it definitely works for standard items.
By standard items, I am thinking of items such as electrical and electronic items.