The Pros and Cons of Shopping Online

Online shopping has become an appealing alternative for consumers looking for convenience, selection and value when making important or everyday purchases.
As long as an Internet connection is available, purchases can be made anywhere at anytime, and delivered to the location of the consumers choice in as little as one day.

Online shopping evokes the physical analogy of buying products or services in a freestanding retailer. You can see photos of the items, read product reviews and consult size charts to ensure your purchase is exactly what you are looking for. These reviews go a long way toward providing enough detailed information about a product so one can determine whether or not to purchase. Shopping online is quite convenient for shoppers who are unable to get to a physical store due to time or distance restraints, and it is especially helpful during the busy holiday season when stores and shopping malls are congested with buyers.

If a consumer knows exactly what they are looking for, online shopping can be a quick and efficient way to go. Some consumers find it helpful to do their research on a particular brand or item before they decide to purchase it online. However, if you feel the need to physically touch or try on the items you are looking to purchase, it could be problematic. In a conventional retail store, sales representatives are available to answer your questions. Some online retailers offer real-time chat feature or email or phone hotlines where you can ask you questions before you click buy.

Most online retailers offer rather easy return or exchange policies if you find the item is not what you expected once it arrives. It is important to read over the fine print before placing your order to ensure you can be at ease should the product not be suitable. Keep in mind you may still have to pay for the additional shipping charges that will be incurred when making a return.

Many consumers have found the best part of online shopping is the price advantage. Certain websites may sell products for a better price than normally found in stores, and online sales can bring further savings. It is important to do your research and know the average in-store price for certain items to ensure you are getting a fair deal online. Sometimes the additional shipping or duties costs can reduce the price advantage of shopping online. Some sites may wave shipping fees for orders over a certain dollar amount. If you are purchasing from a website based in another country you can expect to pay higher shipping costs for international order or rush delivery if you need your items to arrive quickly. Also keep in mind you may have to pay additional duties when your item crosses international borders.

One drawback of online shopping for some can be the methods of payment. In a store, cash can be used, and if debit or credit is used you can see who is processing your card information. You are also not typically required to give your home address when making a purchase. When online shopping you must give a name and a physical address for the product to be sent to, and some are uneasy about giving debit or credit card information over the Internet. Most sites these days are secure and will protect your personal information, but there can never be a 100 per cent guarantee.

When we look at the pros and cons of shopping online, the pros usually outweigh the cons, especially when consumers are looking for widely available items at the best possible price. You can save time and money by shopping in the comfort of your home and even discover new brands and products that you would not normally find on the shelves of your local retailer.