E-commerce popularly known as online shopping in recent times has been the revelation of the 21st century. People no longer feel the need to go on a physical shopping spree but prefer to shop at the comfort of their homes. It does not reduce the percentage of retail stores though, neither does it eradicate physical shopping.
Contrary to the earlier stated fact, people still visit stores frequently more than they shop online. For the past decade, increased internet penetration across the country has largely affected online shopping positively as an increasing percentage greatly accept the trend. This further increases the percentage of potential customers as online stores are easily accessible.
Advantages of Online Shopping
The perks that come with online shopping/e-commerce are numerous and include the following :
This is the most interesting advantage. You can shop at any time of the day or night, in your suit or pyjamas. You don’t even have to wait in line or look for an attendant to help you with your order. Shopping is done in minutes and crowded places are avoided. John B. Horrigan, PhD (2007) reveals in his study that 78% of Americans agree that shopping online is very convenient while 53% strongly agree to that premise.
Consumers get better bargains in terms of price when they shop online than when they visit the stores physically. This is so because products are gotten directly from the manufacturer in some cases, as against middlemen. Discounts and coupons are also offered when goods are purchased online.
With online shopping, a variety of products are available all in one place. There are no limitations to accessing just a single store or being restricted to a geographical location. With the internet, online shopping is international.
People spend more when they embark on conventional shopping. With online shopping, there are no eating out, travelling or impulsive shopping (buying things we do not require due to shopkeeper’s upselling skills). You get the only item planned for.
With online shopping, there are price comparisons. This is necessary so as to achieve value for money. Research can be made to get information about products and prices just before buying. Online stores also give users the ability to share reviews after experiencing a product firsthand.
With shopping online, there are no crowd trouble or hurried shopping.
Shopping online affords buyer privacy with respect to purchasing some items. The purchase of lingerie by husbands for their wives or adult toys often save them the embarrassment associated with conventional shopping for these items.
Disadvantages of Online Shopping
Although online shopping offers a lot of advantages to buyers, it also has its drawbacks which include but not limited to :
With online shopping, there are no inspections on the products other than what is visible on the screen. Clothes or shoes cannot be tried on before the actual purchase. Also, small details usually necessary to make or not make a purchase may not be visible until after the purchase.
Conventional shopping methods offer buyers the luxury of leaving with their products, unlike online shopping. Products would involve shipping which may take a while especially when sellers offer free shipping.
This is a major disadvantage of online shopping. With increased internet activity by many a time, naïve users and the increased knowledge of hackers, online shopping is a time bomb waiting to explode. Amidst the comfort of online shopping lies an opportunity for identity theft, information theft as well as fraud.
Shopping online is actually secured but the carelessness of potential buyers is what jeopardizes this approach in shopping. In other to avoid becoming a fraud victim, users/buyers who shop online can keep their information safe by being enlightened on the various information available for online purchases.
Things to Do Before Making a Purchase Online
- Buyers should contact their banks with respect to identity theft policies. Who would be responsible if purchases are made with your stolen credit card?
- It would be very important to install antivirus software so as to prevent information theft by spyware and computer virus applications.
- Update the antivirus software frequently so as to be ahead with respect to new Virus Definitions.
- Buyers should be aware of most or all of the various scams that appear on the internet. Verify, verify and re-verify every piece of information so good to be true.
Staying Safe While Shopping Online
- Buyers should only shop on secure websites. How do you know a secure website? It begins with “HTTPS” and stands for SECURE HTTP connection. This is very different from the non- secure “HTTP” connection. In some browsers, a padlock is shown at the top right corner of your address bar in the internet address window.
- Legitimate online stores/sellers will NEVER ask for payment information (credit card details) via email. As such, buyers should beware of email requesting information to that effect as it is indicative of a scam, even if the email came from trusted brands in online shopping.
- Smaller online stores request payment through 3rd party vendors like PayPal, PayStack (Nigeria). This is secure but care should be taken to make sure the SECURE sign or padlock is at the top right of the address bar. This shows you are on a secure and legit website.
- It is advisable to deal with popular businesses with respect to shopping online. Brands like Jumia, Konga, eBay and Amazon have become established over time with respect to online shopping. These brands offer you channels to resolve complaints in the event something goes wrong while making a purchase.