Pros and Cons of Shopping Online

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Shopping Online
Shopping Online

In today’s connected world, it would be perfectly easy to buy everything you need with just a computer, keyboard and credit card. Purple Dog has helped quite a number of businesses on Waiheke, across New Zealand and globally – to sell their products on the web. Many of these businesses would probably not survive if it wasn’t for online shopping – and some probably wouldn’t even exist at all.

Opinion varies with arguments that favour internet shopping as the future, whilst others argue that buying online is not good for the environment and that it’s responsible for eroding the fabric of local communities. One thing is true however, and that is the fact that internet shopping is growing in popularity and it’s a trend that’s here to stay.

In this article, I thought it would be quite interesting to look at the pros and cons of internet shopping – feel free to respond with your thoughts!

Easy Convenience

Pros: This is an obvious point – no queues, no traffic jams, no dressing up required (think shopping in pyjamas at 2am), and no impulsive add on purchases that will blow your budget.  With online shopping you can buy anything, anytime, from anywhere without barriers.  The one thing to watch out for is import duties.

Cons: The fact that you have to get out of your chair to go to the shop is not to be underestimated! Simply walking around a shop is good for your body.  Also, the physical sensation of touching and seeing a product can really change everything, especially with clothes and when it comes to shoes – surely trying them on in the store is essential.  Notwithstanding, there is a trend for shoppers to try items on in a store and then order online to get the cheapest price.

Wide variety of choice

Pros: Shopping without borders means that your choices are virtually unlimited. You can research the product you want across multiple vendors before choosing the preferred seller.

Cons: Quite often something you want will not be available locally, so the internet is great for that. However, if you want or need something urgently that’s stocked locally, it makes sense to “Shop Local”.

Costs

Pros: Typically, online stores have lower overheads and therefore are able to pass the cost savings on to the consumer.  Software is a classic example and you’ll probably save 50% – against purchasing from a vendor with a bricks and mortar operation to run.  However, it is also pertinent to say “beware of scams and rip-offs”.  To ensure the item you purchased is genuine, make sure you shop with a reputable online store.

Cons: Price is not everything. Don’t forget quality! Also, a typical real world shopper will simply just buy the item locally, not spend 4 hours trying to save a few dollars! If this sounds like you, once you’ve bought the item in your high street – DO NOT be tempted to see how much you would have saved online – you’ll probably get quite upset.

Environmental Factors

Pros: No driving to the store means less C02 emissions for the planet, so can we build fewer roads now – or at least convert them all into cycle ways? I thought not.  You can also request less packaging at the checkout.

Cons: If the product is coming from overseas, we’re talking airmiles – it’s anybody’s guess whether this is worse for the environment than driving to the store, since the product most likely consumed huge miles just getting to the store!

Economic Considerations

Pros: A digital marketplace = billions of buyers, so potentially you can end up with a huge business if you have the right product.  This means growth for small businesses online and that is good for the economy.

Cons: Local shops and communities suffer if everyone buys online – though I am not convinced this situation would ever occur anyway. Also, the online marketplace may become consolidated with just a few players, limiting choice and value.

Quality issues

Pros: If you buy from a reputable brand or company online, a standard returns policy is to be expected.

Cons: The ease of dropping off a faulty item back to your local store can never be beaten by online shopping (unless you live next door to a post shop)!

Other Factors

Pros: Things like paying with PayPal (payment of choice for many on the net), not having to deal with annoying shop assistants, or listen to the awful piped music of the store, not having to drag the kids around, no parking issues and the like.

Cons: Getting out in front of people is good! You might even meet friends, go out for dinner or enjoy other spontaneous acts! It’s also good to support real bricks and mortar businesses – some of whom have been around for a very long time. Recent high profile businesses that have failed leave a huge, ugly gaps in the high street (think record stores, software outlets – even huge electronic chains and the like).

In Conclusion

Many businesses are selling through both online and bricks and mortar stores, meaning they are able to play a part in and benefit from both worlds.  This is good for consumers as competition and pricing is a lot more transparent.

Most consumers spend their money in both local outlets and online stores and that is the behaviour that we encourage as it supports both communities.  Obviously there are always going to be some brands that you can’t buy locally or certain products or manufacturers that you prefer to buy from directly and that is fine.

Ultimately, online shopping is having an impact on our local communities as, for example, book and CD stores close down – but many entrepreneurs have created global businesses to meet online demands.  Certain businesses are insulated against the affects of online shopping (e.g. tourist activities, food outlets and tradespeople) but that doesn’t mean they are immune.

Every business can benefit from being online and every consumer benefits from the additional information available.  However, there is still space (and demand) for retail – so in reality there is a place for bothe forms of commerce.  It certainly has been a wake up call for the high street chains that once had the luxury of charging what they wanted.

If you have a product or service to sell online, we’d be delighted to talk to you about maximising your sales. Just get in touch.