Where technology has revamped business practices, it is also changed consumer behavior. Almost 2 decades ago, telephone and brick & mortar stores and franchises were the most common sales points. However, everything changed when businesses like Amazon.com introduced the internet or online shopping points.
Online retailing or e-commerce business has just touched new heights in the last 7-8 years. Did you know that the global online retailing industry crossed the $4.2 trillion figure in 2020? Moreover, there were 2.14 billion online shoppers worldwide, which is roughly 27 percent of the world’s total population.
Is online shopping beneficial? What are its advantages and drawbacks? Read on if you are intrigued to find out.
What is online shopping?
Online shopping, in broader terms, is a type of e-commerce or electronic commerce business where shoppers or customers directly purchase services or goods on the internet.
Earlier, it started with customers buying from sellers’ websites, but the trend changed again when businesses started using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, etc., to sell their services and products. As a matter of fact, mobile apps are the latest addition to the e-retailing business.
Amazon.com is amongst the pioneers of e-commerce, while Alibaba and e-bay joined the list of top e-retailers around the world.
Online shopping has its amazing perks and some drawbacks too. Let’s discuss them.
Advantages Of Online Shopping
Ease and Convenience
The biggest advantage of online shopping is you can shop anytime from anywhere, even from your bed at 3:00 am. Just open your mobile, select the product your want to purchase, make the payment, and boom. The best part? You don’t have to stand in long waiting lines and make your payments. In fact, if you are buying downloadable items such as books, movies, music albums, etc., you can get your product within minutes. Isn’t that awesome?
More Variations and Customization
Another amazing thing about online shopping is the diversity and variation. You can literally choose from hundreds of similar products from different vendors. Even a single product is usually available in so many colors, designs, and sizes.
Moreover, you can buy customized items as per your likeness. For example, you can have a coffee cup with your favorite picture printed on it. You can choose customized designs for your home’s interior, get a custom printed t-shirt, and whatnot.
Online products usually cost less than similar products in brick-mortar stores. That’s because online shopping eliminates the intermediaries such as distributors, wholesalers, etc. Moreover, businesses don’t have to pay rent for physical stores, which allows them to reduce prices. In fact, many businesses offer discounted prices if you shop from their online stores.
You may not know this, but a well-trained salesperson can trick you into buying something you don’t need or want. But, shopping online means no one is watching you, and you can visit an online store, and nobody knows. What’s more, many e-retailers provide the cash-on-delivery option. That means, if you are not happy with the delivered product, you can return it.
Comprehensive Product Descriptions
Here is another perk of online shopping – detailed product descriptions. High-quality sellers like Alibaba, Amazon, etc., add every single detail, including features, benefits, and even customer reviews about products. You can know everything about any product and make a more informed decision.
On-site shopping doesn’t give you much time or choice to make price comparisons. However, when you shop online, you can easily compare the prices and features of the same product from different vendors. Believe it or not, online shopping can get a massive deal at a very affordable price.
Easy to Send Gifts
Life is getting busier and busier with every passing day but remembering your loved ones on special occasions is also important. Again, online retailing can come to your rescue. You can order customized gifts and have them wrapped and delivered wherever and whenever you want.
Do you feel overwhelmed while shopping in massive crowds and noisy retail stores? A lot of people avoid noise and hustle by shopping online. If you are one of those people who don’t want to rush and get the best product, then online shopping is the way to go.
In some cultures, it is considered taboo to buy “private products” like sexy lingerie, adult toys, or even undergarments. Solution? Online shopping. You don’t have to feel embarrassed anymore while buying a nighty for yourself.
Mega Market for used or Damaged Products
Buying used items is not respected in many cultures, but if you are on a tight budget, you can still buy a good product at almost half price. Sometimes, sellers are willing to sell a top-quality product at a very low price just because of some minor defects in it.
Disadvantages Of Online Shopping
If you are shopping online, you may have to wait for days or even weeks to get your product. Most e-retailers don’t deliver products on weekends, so you can expect a normal delivery in 3-4 days if you are buying on weekends.
Another bad thing about online shopping is you can never be sure whether the product will reach you in one piece and without any damage. Customers often complain about damaged or completely broken products. In fact, the products are sometimes lost during shipping or delivered to the wrong addresses.
Diversity can be a Curse
It is true that online shopping gives you the luxury of choosing from so many options, but this can complicate things for you. Some people keep searching for more and more variations without knowing that they have spent hours in front of their computers/laptops. It not only wastes your time but affects your health.
Risk of Fraud
To be honest, this is the worst thing about online shopping; your personal details, such as contact number, email, and credit card number, can be misapplied. It is not possible for every customer to identify a phishing attack, and someone may misuse your credit card without you knowing about it.
Cumbersome Product Returns
The purchase process is often smooth and effortless, but purchase returns can be a real headache. You may have to fill out online forms, reimburse shipping costs, and the process may still take a week or more.
Weakened Social Contact
Online shopping after long job hours may save you time, but it can reduce your social interactions. Physical shopping not only gives an in-depth look at the product you wish to purchase, but you can also interact with people. In fact, having a good weekend shopping and a lavish dinner can make your day, right?
Less or no Sales Assistance
Sometimes, an e-retailer may not provide enough information about the products on their websites. In such cases, you may have to send a text or email for your queries or contact customer support, and this may take some time.
Competition Killer for Local Sellers
Online retailing has proved to be a nightmare for local sellers and small retailers. Big businesses and online retailers can reduce costs by purchasing in bulk and avoiding rentals. However, this luxury is not available for small-scale or local retailers.
Millennials love online shopping, and to be honest, it has its unparalleled perks. Online shopping helps you save time & money, and you have so many options to choose from. But at the same time, you can be a victim of online scams.