The Benefits of Online Shopping
Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. There are certainly outside factors such as increasing gas prices, difficulty getting to traditional stores and the hassles often associated with shopping in malls and other traditional stores may contribute to the increased interest in online shopping. However, there are also many benefits which make online shopping an excellent option for many busy shoppers. Some of these benefits include convenience, comparison shopping capabilities and express shipping options and this article will discuss each of these benefits in further detail.
The Convenience of Online Shopping
One of the most obvious benefits of online shopping which cannot be overlooked is convenience. One of the most enjoyable conveniences of online shopping which is enjoyed by many is the ability to shop for products or services at a time which is convenient for the consumer. Online retailers accept orders twenty four hours a day while consumers who wish to shop at traditional stores have to be available to visit the store during normal business hours. This can be a major inconvenience especially for shoppers who work long hours or shoppers who work odd hours. Online shopping eliminates this concern because shoppers can simply access online stores from their computer whenever they have free time available. Another convenience of online shopping is the ability to order products from around the world. Shoppers are no longer limited to products offered by local retailers because the vast majority of online retailers offer shipping to many different locations. This can make it easy for online shoppers to acquire hard to find items or items which are a regional specialty of a particular area.
Comparison Shopping when Online Shopping
Another great benefit of online shopping is the ability to comparison shop easily. Instead of running around to several different traditional stores and trying to remember or write down details such as prices and features, the shopper can simply open two or more browsers to easily compare more than one item. Additionally, there are several websites and online retailers which make comparison shopping even easier. These websites may even provide charts which compare features for similar products to enable the online shopper to make an accurate comparison of two or more items before making a purchase.
Another advantage to comparison shopping online is it gives the consumer the ability to compare items which may not be available in his location. This is important because some items may only be available in certain parts of the country. This can make comparing items difficult for traditional shoppers. However, online shoppers are easily able to make these comparisons and learn more about similar products which helps them to make the best possible decision.
Using Express Shipping Options when Shopping Online
One of the distinct advantages of online shopping is the shipping methods which are available. These options are especially beneficial to online shoppers who are guilty of often waiting until the last minute to purchase items as gifts or items that are necessary for other reasons. For these online shoppers express shipping is one of the most beneficial features. Although the shopper will pay significantly more for express shipping options the shopper will have the advantage of being able to purchase an item the day before it is necessary and have the item delivered directly to the necessary party.
Other beneficial shipping options often include the inclusion of gift receipts as well as gift wrapping options. This is especially important for online shoppers who are interested in sending gifts to friends and family members. This can save the online shopper a great deal of time because they can have the gift shipped directly to the friend or family member as opposed to having the gift shipped to themselves first and then having to wrap the gift and re-ship it to the recipient. The ability to send gift receipts are also important because it enables the recipient of the gift to return or exchange the item but does not divulge the price paid for the gift.
The Dangers of Online Shopping
Although there are many who enjoy online shopping, there are others who have fears about online shopping and do not enjoy this type of shopping. For these shoppers there too many concerns which prevent the shopper from feeling completely comfortable shopping online. Some of these concerns include identity theft, difficulty making returns and misleading product descriptions. This article will address these concerns and offer information about how shoppers can help to avoid these online shopping dangers and feel more comfortable about the process of shopping online. Shopper who are able to put these concerns aside will likely find they actually enjoy the conveniences offered by online shopping.
Concerns about Identity Theft
Concerns about identity theft are one of the most common concerns for those who are considering shopping online. Identity theft is a very real concern because unscrupulous individuals who acquire sensitive information about an online shopper can do a great deal of damage to the individual’s financial situation and credit score. Although it is usually possible to correct problems which occurs as a result of identity theft the process of making these corrections is usually long and difficult. Additionally, there are some problems which result from identity theft which cannot be corrected especially if the identity theft was undetected for quite some time.
While identity theft is a very valid concern, online shoppers are not completely vulnerable to identity theft in most cases. However, the online shopper should know how to determine whether or not the information they provide online is secure or not. This is important because while the risk of identity theft associated with online shopping through a secure website is relatively small, this risk is significantly larger when the website is not secure. For this reason, online shoppers should carefully examine the web address for any website in which they submit sensitive information. Websites which start with https:// as opposed to http:// indicate the information is being submitted through a secure server. Most reputable online retailers will provide a secure website for shoppers but some smaller online retailers may not offer this degree of security. If the server is not secure the shopper should consider calling customer service to place the order instead of submitting the information through the unsecured website.
Dealing with Returns
Another problem which faces many online retailers is the potential for problems which result from the need to return items purchased online. In most cases the return process with online retailers is quite simple and is not more difficult than returning items to a regular store. In fact online retailers who have a traditional store often allow online shoppers to make returns to these locations instead of shipping the item back to the online retailer. However, returns are not always this easy. In some cases the shopper will be financially responsible for the cost of shipping the item back to the online retailer. This can be costly if the item is oversized and could require pricy insurance if the item is expensive. Online shoppers who have concerns about the return policy for an online retailer should carefully review these policies and inquire if they have any questions about the process before making a purchase.
Misleading Product Descriptions
One final concern many potential online shoppers have about shopping online is encountering misleading product descriptions. This may include product descriptions which are intentionally or unintentionally ambiguous. The concern in this situation is that the shopper will purchase the wrong item or an item which is not as described by the online retailer and the buyer will have difficulty returning the item if necessary. Although this problem may occur there are simple steps the consumer can take to avoid this problem. The simplest solution to this problem is to contact customer service to clarify information about the products offered for sale online. This enables the consumer to speak directly to a representative from the online retailer and verify whether or not the product offered for sale will suit his needs. Based on this information the consumer can then decide to either make the purchase or not.
The Hassles of Online Shopping
Online shopping offers a variety of benefits to the consumer such as the ability to shop when it is convenient, a variety of shipping options, the ability to shop with retailers located around the world and easy comparison shopping but there is also a downside to online shopping. This article will discuss some of the hassles of online shopping including dealing with slow Internet connections, making a mistake when placing an order and problems which result from failure to read the fine print.
Dealing with Slow Internet Connections
Nothing can be more frustrating to an online shopper than a slow Internet connection or a website loads very slowly. This can be problematic because it can result in it taking a great deal of time for the shopper to find the items they are seeking and make their purchase. These problems may be a result of the Internet connection the seller has, the size of the page he is trying to load or the quality of the server on which the online retailer’s website is hosted. Regardless of the cause of the problem it can be extremely frustrating and can greatly complicate the process of making a purchase online. A website which loads slowly can result in a great deal of lost time which can impact the shopper’s satisfaction with the online shopping experience. It can also diminish the appeal of online shopping by making the process much less convenient.
Making a Mistake with the Order
Another problem which may result during the process of online shopping is making a mistake while placing the order. Although this problem can occur during any type of shopping, it can often be quite difficult to correct while online shopping. During the process of online shopping, shoppers may place an order and receive an email confirmation of the order almost instantly. Upon checking the status of the order the shopper may discover a mistake but may also quickly find out correcting this mistake is not easy. This is because many online retailers automate their shopping process which makes it difficult to manually correct mistakes.
For example a shopper who realizes he used the wrong shipping address may find out the order has already entered the shipping process and can no longer be corrected within minutes after the order is placed. The order may not technically ship for a day or two but once the order is transferred to the shipper, the retailer may no longer be able to make changes to the order for the consumer. Therefore consumers should always carefully review the order before they submit the order to avoid mistakes which could be difficult to correct.
Reading the Fine Print
Finally, online shoppers should always carefully read the fine print before they make a purchase. This includes information such as the product description, payment options, cost of the product, taxes, shipping options and the return policy. All of this information is important because failure to understand this information could result in problems such as purchasing the wrong product or paying more for a product than expected. There may also be problems if the consumer needs to return the product and did not understand the return policy before making the purchase. This could result in the shopper either not being able to return the item or being responsible for the shipping costs.
When Online Shopping is Not Ideal
There are a number of distinct advantages to online shopping. Some of these advantages include the ability to shop at a convenient time, a potential for cost savings, the ability to shop at stores around the world and the ability to find rare collectible items. While these advantages draw many consumers to online shopping there are also some situations in which shopping online is not the best option for all consumers. This article will discuss some of these situations such as shopping for clothing online, shopping for decorative items and shopping for used items. Although some consumers may be able to shop for these types of items online there are some consumers who will always have difficulty shopping for these types of items online.
Shopping for Clothing Online
Shopping for clothing online is often difficult. This is because consumers are used to being able to try on items in traditional stores before making a purchase. The ability to try clothing items on before making a purchase is so important because it allows the consumer to evaluate the size, fit, material and color of the garment before making a decision about whether or not to make the purchase. Although some consumers may be able to make decisions about purchasing clothing items easily without trying the item on, the majority of consumers will not be able to make these decisions easily based solely on an image and a product description.
While shopping for clothing online is not always easy the upside to this type of purchase is making returns on clothing is usually a fairly simple process. Clothing is light and relatively easy to ship so as a result there is usually not a substantial cost in returning clothing items. This ease of shipping often makes consumers more likely to make clothing purchases online even though they are not sure how well the item will fit.
Shopping for Decorative Items Online
Shopping for furniture and decorative items online is another area in which consumers may wish to avoid online shopping. They may browse online retailers to get ideas about the types of products they want and the costs of these items but it many cases it is wise to make these purchases in a traditional store as opposed to an online retailer. Consider purchasing bulky pieces of furniture such as couches, beds or tables. These items can be rather expensive to ship and the cost of having these items shipped can significantly add to the overall cost of the item. Although the consumer may pay a delivery charge when purchasing furniture from a traditional store, this fee is usually considerably lower than the cost of having the item shipped. Also, consumers have the option of avoiding delivery fees if they are capable of transporting the item themselves.
Shopping for furniture and decorative items online can also be difficult because the consumer may want to see these items in person before making a decision. This is important because seeing the item in person enables the consumer to see the color, feel the texture and make any necessary measurements which will help to ensure the item is a good fit for the home.
Shopping for Used Items Online
Shopping for used items online can also be difficult. This is because the consumer may want to evaluate the item carefully for wear and functionality before making a purchase. Although the seller may provide photos and a description of the item for sale, these images and words may not fully describe the product for sale. Although this may be completely unintentional on behalf of the seller there are also situations in which the seller will attempt to misrepresent the item deliberately to deceive potential buyers. Online shoppers may find a variety of great used items for sale at excellent prices but care should always be taken with these purchases to ensure the item is described accurately. Consumers who purchase used items online are advised to ask questions and ask for additional photos of the item if necessary.