Today, online buying is more popular than ever. According to a report from the United States Census Bureau, retail e-commerce sales totaled $222.5 billion in the second quarter of 2021. 1 For contrast, retail e-commerce revenues were predicted to be $47.5 billion in 2011. 2
Online purchasing has become very easy and convenient, thanks in part to new and developing technology. It also provides a wider assortment than a single storefront, allowing access to products and services that may not be available at a nearby physical location.
While there are many advantages to shopping online, there are also some disadvantages to be aware of. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of shopping online.
Advantages of Online Shopping
Using your computer or another digital device to shop can be convenient, provide you with additional options, and supply you with information you wouldn’t get in a store.
The most significant advantage of online buying is its convenience. You can buy everything you want from the comfort of your own home thanks to the digital world. Because online businesses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and accessible from any computer with an internet connection, it’s simple to incorporate online shopping into your schedule, no matter how hectic your schedule is. You don’t have to schedule your purchases around the hours that a physical store is open and ready to serve you.
A larger variety
Because online products exist solely in the digital realm, online retailers are not bound by shelf space and often have more inventory on hand, as well as a greater range of products. Furthermore, online buying allows you to purchase anything from any vendor, regardless of your location. If you’re looking for a new lamp, for example, you’ll have more possibilities than if you simply shop in your neighbourhood.
Information is easily accessible.
When you purchase online, you will frequently find more information on a company’s items than you would find in a real store. Instead of dealing with only one or two salespeople in person, you may look up product descriptions, related product recommendations, and customer reviews to help you make a more informed purchase decision.
The Drawbacks of Online Shopping
Shopping for products online has its drawbacks, such as hidden price markups, a higher chance of fraud, and the inability to use or wear the item you bought right immediately.
It Might Be More Expensive
For a variety of reasons, online purchases can be more expensive. Even though many big online merchants offer free shipping, they usually have a minimum purchase requirement. Furthermore, internet sellers may employ a variety of tactics to persuade you to purchase more products or more expensive items than you would if you were shopping in person.
You may also be required to pay an internet sales tax, depending on your state. In Texas, for example, you may be required to pay a tax on purchases made outside of the state and shipped to Texas, as well as purchases made from online-only retailers.
Increases the likelihood of fraud
Unfortunately, there are internet buying scams. As of February 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that internet shopping was the second most common type of consumer fraud. 5 Scammers use phoney websites or build fraudulent adverts on legitimate websites to impersonate legitimate online sellers.
Always pay with a credit card rather than a debit card because your credit card company can instantly report theft. It’s also advised to stay away from online retailers who only accept payments in the form of money transfers, gift cards, or bitcoin. Scammers may persuade you to use these ways in order to gain access to your funds more quickly.
As a result, there are longer wait times.
When you shop in a physical store, you may take the item you purchased with you and use or wear it right away. You may have to wait days, weeks, or even months for your product to arrive if you shop online. Going to an in-person business may be a better alternative for you if you’re in a hurry and need a product right immediately, such as a gift.
How to Maximize Your Online Shopping Experience
These pointers can help you get the most out of your online shopping experience.
Which Products Should You Buy Online?’
Some things are better to buy online than others since you may find a plethora of consumer evaluations, discounts, and other offers. The internet may be the greatest location to compare offers for products you use frequently (such as a laptop, phone charger, suitcase, or textbook). Shopping in person may be the best option for items that require long-term value (such as a car) or that you need right away (such as groceries).
Read Customer Reviews
Read reviews on the retailer’s website as well as third-party sites like Google and Facebook before checking out. This can assist you determine whether the retailer is legitimate and whether the thing you’re going to purchase has any potential flaws. Small businesses benefit from reviews as well. According to the 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey by marketing agency BrightLocal, 87% of consumers read online evaluations of local companies.