Advantages and disadvantages Of online shopping: Information and Communication Technology has revolutionised the lifestyle and activities of individuals and organizations across the world. This is more pronounced in the area of commerce. Commercial activities have been redefined by technology. In years past, the physical stores were the conventional places where goods and services could be purchased. However, this has changed with the emergence of online stores. In today’s world, online stores have become the choice markets for shoppers.
There are many advantages which persons who buy goods and services on online stores enjoy. These advantages have been the motivation for the wide adoption of online shopping. On the other hand, there are risks and disadvantages associated with online shopping. Discussed below are the benefits, risks and disadvantages linked to online shopping.
Advantages of Online Shopping (Merits)
1. Convenience: This is the greatest benefit of online shopping and its most significant allure. Unlike physical stores where there are usually long queues and delays in the selection of products, online stores give shoppers the chance to select the products of their choice with ease. Shoppers are able to place orders for products within minutes or even seconds.
Another aspect of the convenience which online shopping offers is its round-the-clock availability. Most physical shops lock up before the day runs out. On the contrary, online stores are open every hour of the day and night. Shoppers on online stores therefore enjoy the advantage of being able to make purchases at their most convenient time.
2. Best Prices: Online stores offer buyers a wide range of products. These products are usually sold at prices lower than those obtainable in physical stores. During holidays, festivals and other periods, online stores offer huge discounts, cash backs and coupons to shoppers. Online shops also engage in flash sales. All these give online shoppers the chance to buy products and services at the best prices.
Most online stores are virtual market places where manufacturers advertise and sell their products or offer their services. Shoppers on these stores can transact directly with the manufacturers and service providers. This eliminates the middleman and helps shoppers to save money.
Similarly, different vendors make their goods and services available on online stores. In order to beat the competition and attract more patronage, these vendors cut down on the prices of their products and services. Online shopping gives shoppers the huge advantage of purchasing goods and services at cheap or affordable prices.
3. Greater diversity and variety: Physical stores are limited in size and the variety of products they offer. This limits the choice of shoppers and their ability to access diverse set of products. On the other hand, online stores are not limited in size and usually contain limitless number, sizes and forms of products. This is a great benefit of online shopping. Online shoppers are able to buy everything they would love to buy.
In some cases, some goods may not be available in physical shops in a particular territory or country. This limits the ability of people within that territory or country to get products or services of their choice. However, online shopping removes this drawback. Shoppers from any part of the world can access online stores and pay for any product or service without limitations of any kind.
4. Privacy: Online shopping offers shoppers the advantage of making purchases in private space. Unlike physical stores, shoppers on online stores can buy any product or pay for any service without being seen by others. The privacy which online shopping offers is valuable to persons who feel embarrassed buying some kind of goods in a physical store. Online shopping enables everyone to enjoy privacy while buying.
Additionally, online shopping offers a sense of security due to the privacy it offers. Any one can buy luxury goods or spend huge amounts of money on the purchase of goods and services without fear of being exposed to the view of criminals.
5. Money, Time And Energy Cost: Online shopping helps shoppers save money, energy and time. In addition to the money which shoppers save as a result of discounts and low prices, they also save money on logistics. Transportation costs a lot of money and other resources. This is especially true for shopping outside the country of residence. By enabling shoppers to buy goods and services at any location, online shopping helps them save the money which would have been spent on transportation.
Similarly, online shopping helps shoppers save energy. Getting to a physical store and shopping in it requires a lot of energy. By enabling shoppers to shop at the comfort of their homes or offices, online shopping helps shoppers avoid stress and also conserve their energy. Online shopping also helps to save time by enabling shoppers to shop instantly and save time, which can be used for other activities.
6. Informed choice: Online shopping has a huge advantage of giving shoppers the opportunity to know the important details about a product or service before making a decision. Vendors usually attach pictures and descriptions to their products on online stores. This helps shoppers to know the important features and specifications of the product.
Moreover, most online stores have comment sections where shoppers who have bought a particular product can publish their experiences with the product and their opinions on the product and the vendor. This helps prospective buyers to know about the product and make an informed decision.
7. Avoid Uncomfortable Situations: In a conventional market, it’s common to get caught up in the crowd consisting of other people who also want to make purchases. For people who do not like crowds or dislike so much unnecessary body contact, it can get really uncomfortable. One can avoid all that by shopping online from the comfort of your home.
On the other hand, there is also the issue of seller pressure or influence. This is when the seller pressures a buyer to purchase an item, often by employing strong persuasion or enticing the buyer with promises or discount of low prices. This sometimes results in the buyer purchasing what he doesn’t really need. Most times, the seller persuades the buyer only because he want to make profits and not because he honestly thinks it’s a good choice for the buyer.
With online shopping, there is no such persuasion, and the buyer is able to make his choices without influence from any seller.
Disadvantages of Online Shopping (Demerits)
There are several benefits of online shopping which have already been discussed. However, there are risks involved in or associated with online shopping. They represent the risks, losses or detriment which may result from online shopping activities.
1. Delays in Delivery: Products purchased on online stores are not made instantly available to shoppers. Such products would require shipping to the customer who paid for them. The shipping of the products usually takes a lot of time either as a result of distance or delay on the part of the shipping or logistics company. The delay in delivery may result in economic loss to the shopper.
2. Loss Or Damage of Goods: Products bought on online stores may be damaged or destroyed in the course of shipping or transportation to the shopper. This may be due to delay in the delivery, accident or negligence of the shipping or logistics company.
In other cases, the products bought on online stores may be lost in transit or delivered to the wrong address.
3. Cyber Crime: Fraudsters and hackers usually target online shoppers. A shopper may fall victim to credit card fraud, phishing sites, or hackers in the course of shopping. Online shoppers may also suffer identity theft or fraud as a result of shopping on counterfeit e-commerce sites.
4. Inadequacy of Information: Although online stores display pictures of their products, the pictures may not accurately reflect the condition and features of the products. In most cases, the pictures are extensively enhanced and edited and this may deprive the shopper the knowledge of the true conditions of such products.
Also, the descriptions of the products may not adequately or accurately state the condition and features of the products. Some descriptions may be misleading or imprecise. In some cases, the descriptions not be sufficient to help the shopper evaluate the product. The description may be inadequate for ascertaining the texture, durability or quality of the product.
5. Lack Of Opportunity to Bargain: Online stores do not give shoppers the opportunity to bargain with vendors concerning the prices of the products. This is unlike physical stores or markets where shoppers can haggle for lower prices.
6. Lack Of Experience: There are some products which are better experienced before being bought. For example, it is more desirable to try out a clothe or feel a piece of furniture before buying them. Online stores do not offer shoppers the opportunity to test, inspect or touch their products before making their orders.
7. Increased Internet Time: This generation of technology users are already spending an excessive amount of screen time, and online shoot only makes this worse. It’s easy to sucked into staying longer than planned on the internet when shopping online. This is probably because of all the amazing offers and products available on online stores.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that online shopping has become a preferred means of purchasing goods and services. It is efficient, cost-effective and accessible to everyone across the world. These benefits and more are being taken advantage of by millions shoppers who rely on online stores for their supply of goods or services.
However, there are risks associated with online shopping. These include fraud, delayed delivery of goods, and damage of goods during shipping. Those who wish to purchase goods or pay for services using online platforms must ensure that they use only reliable e-commerce sites and when appropriate, resort to physical or conventional stores and markets for their needs.