Online shopping has been on a rising trend for a while now, especially during the lockdown. In fact, considering a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, it has been noticed that in 2022’s first quarter, an estimated $250 billion had been spent in the industry of retail e-commerce sales.
In comparison, the second quarter of 2011, retail e-commerce sales were $47.5 billion. Because of new and growing technology, online shopping has become easier and more convenient than ever. It also has a wider selection than one storefront, opening the doors to products and services that you might not find at a nearby brick-and-mortar store.
Even if there are numerous benefits to online shopping, there are also many drawbacks you should learn about. Let’s see what the pros and cons of shopping online are!
Let’s start with the good parts.
Shopping online is convenient
The biggest benefit of online shopping is how convenient it is. Through the digital space, you can easily buy anything you prefer, from the comfort of your own home. Since online stores are always open and very accessible from anywhere that has internet access, it is very easy to fit online shopping into your life, no matter how busy you are.
You won’t have to plan your purchases based on what a brick-and-mortar store is open and available for you.
Given the fact that online products basically live in the digital space, online retailers aren’t restricted to a certain number of shelves, and oftentimes they have more inventory on hand, with a wider selection of products.
Plus, online shopping can give you the opportunity to buy anything from any retailer, no matter where you live. For example, if you’re in the market for a new lamp, you will have more options available to your than you would if you’d only shopped at stores in your neighborhood.
Easy Access to Information
When you shop online, you will know more about a business’s products than you would by going to physical stores. Rather than speaking to one or two sales associates in person, you could peruse product descriptions, recommendations of similar products, and even reviews from other shoppers online that will help you make a more informed purchasing decision.
And now the cons…
Shopping for some items can have many pitfalls, such as a hidden price markup, an increased risk of fraud, and even the inability to wear the item you bought right away.
It can be more expensive
Some online purchases might cost you more for many different reasons. Even if many major online retailers might offer free shipping, they usually require you to meet their minimum criteria in order to qualify for it.
Plus, online retailers might use several strategies to encourage you to buy even more than you would have if you were shopping in person. Plus, depending on the state you currently live in, you might have to pay an internet sales tax, too.
For example, in states such as Texas, you might have to pay a tax on out-of-state purchases that are delivered into Texas, or even purchases that are made from online-only sellers.
It might increase the risk of fraud
It’s very unfortunate that online shopping can sometimes lead the way to scams, too. According to the Federal Trade Commission, online shopping was the fourth type of fraud category for consumers since February 2022. There are some fraudsters out there who pretend to be legitimate online sellers that have fake websites or even create fake ads on real sites. It is recommended to try as much as possible to pay by credit card, rather than debit because you can easily report fraud to your credit card company. Also, it’s best to avoid online sellers that will only take payment via money transfers, gift cards, and cryptocurrency. Scammers might encourage you to pay through any of these methods, in order to gain access to your money faster.
This leads to longer wait times
When you go shopping inside a brick-and-mortar store, you can easily walk away with the product you just bought and wear it right away. Online shopping, by default, has a system that forces you to wait days, weeks, and even longer until you receive the product. If you’re in a time rush and need a product NOW, like a gift, shopping in an in-person shop might be a better option in this situation.
Learn How To Shop Online:
Check which products can be bought online
For some items, it is more recommended to shop online, as you can find many countless consumer reviews, discounts, and various other deals that come with them. For products you use on a daily basis, like a laptop, phone charger, luggage, or textbook, the internet might be the best place to compare prices.
For some things that have a long-lasting value, like a car, or things that you use on a daily basis, like groceries, shopping in person would be recommended.
Before checking out, you should read the reviews on the retailer’s website, but also on third-party sites such as Google and Facebook. This might help you find out if the retailer is a legitimate source, and if there might be any potential issues with the product you’re about to invest in.
Reviews are extremely beneficial for small businesses, as 98% of consumers would go online to read reviews about local businesses, according to marketing consultancy BrightLocal’s 2022 Local Consumer Review Survey.
Examine product details
If you are interested in purchasing a product, you should first read its description. You should make sure you have its ingredients or components written on it, whether it comes with a warranty, the available sizes, and so on. If you do this, you will 100% avoid unwanted surprises that would only cost you more time, money, and headaches.
How to save money when you shop online:
Compare before you shop
If you have a specific product on your list, it’s only in your best interest to go to a comparison shop, that has a similar process to life insurance research. Check various online stores that will offer you exactly what you’re looking for. Then, compare the prices in order to find the best deals.
Follow online retailers on their social media accounts
Online retailers will promote their sales and discounted items on Facebook, Instagram, and various social media platforms. By following their pages, you will definitely be the first one to notice and purchase their latest products.
Use money-saving apps and plug-ins
Trust me, if you’re interested in looking for apps and plug-ins that will allow you to save more money online, the options are endless. Some of the best examples are Honey, Swagbucks, Capital One Shopping, and Rakuten. If you’re looking for coupon codes online, you can always try on RetailMeNot.com and Coupons.com.
How do you get your money back if you bought something online?
The process depends on the retailer. Some might instantly refund your money when you report a problem with the purchased products, others might have to return the product first. In some cases, you won’t get your money back, especially if it comes after the retailer’s return window.
If you’re purchasing something that doesn’t work for you, check the retailer’s refund policy before buying anything.
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