Online shopping has significantly increased in popularity over the last decade. Key online retailers such as Amazon and online auction sites such as Loot and our other sister classified publication FreeAdMart and Bargain Pages have benefitted from an online presence since the mid 1990s. Since then, thousands of businesses that were known for having a High Street presence have followed suit.
According to the Nottingham based Centre for Retail Research, the total market share for online shopping in Europe for 2011 was over £169 million. So why do so many people shop online and what exactly are the benefits?
One of the biggest advantages to doing your shopping over the internet as opposed to going to a bricks and mortar shop is the time that this can save. Whilst the majority of High Street retail outlets trade from 9am to 5.30pm, online shops never close. You can purchase whatever you’re looking for at any time of the day or night over the internet. A considerable number of consumers also have access to the internet at work or from their mobile phones meaning a purchase does not even have to take place from a computer or laptop at home.
Most online retailers also offer a number of different delivery options to choose from which vary from a next day service (which there is usually a charge for if the items cost under a certain amount) to super saver in which all items are delivered for free second class so will take longer to arrive.
Shopping Online Vs. High Street
Another point to consider is the amount of choice that is available online compared to High Street shops. E-retailers have literally thousands of lines available and the same cannot usually be replicated in a physical shop. Moreover, if the consumer is searching for something specific but isn’t sure exactly which shop stocks it, then using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo could come up with the appropriate results in a matter of seconds. Compare this to visiting several bricks and mortar shops which could take up a lot of time.
Also, if you know what you’re looking for in a physical shop and it’s not in stock, you might have to travel miles to the next nearest store to get the specific product. Conversely, the amount of choice online can almost 100% guarantee that you will be able to locate an item quickly and easily. Many online customers can also benefit from product images, descriptions and customer product reviews. A number of sites also have a live chat function available so that should any product questions arise, a real person types the answers back therefore giving the consumer more confidence in the online retailer.
Prices are normally also cheaper when shopping online because online shops do not have to factor in as many staffing costs and shop rental fees. As previously mentioned, you may have to factor in shipping costs but the lower cost of the item or items plus the cost of delivery (if applicable) is usually less than when buying from a bricks and mortar shop. When visiting a physical shop, you may also have to think about the cost of petrol and parking (or bus, tube or train fare) to get there; this is not applicable when buying online.
Replacements and Refunds
If an item or items are purchased online and aren’t suitable, online retailers will usually accept them back for a replacement or refund; a number of e-tailers will send out a free returns label if the product supplied is faulty. If you are unsure about the returns policy of an online shop, it’s advantageous to read the onsite terms and conditions before making a purchase.
Another perhaps less obvious benefit is that items which consumers may find embarrassing to go into a physical shop for such as revealing lingerie and adult toys can be purchased with complete discretion online. These items (which some people consider as taboo) will also arrive in plain, unmarked packaging which means that nobody in the household will know what’s inside the box when delivered.
For full payment confidence when shopping online, remember to use secure sites (where the payment pages start with HTTPS) and those that have full contact details should a problem arise. If you have a bad experience with a particular online retailer that you feel was not resolved amicably, you can leave negative comments on review sites. On the other hand, if you have had an especially good buying experience, these sites also allow you to submit positive comments.
Author info: Amy Shepherd works in marketing for Sinful Sensations who provide a range of alluring lingerie in sizes up to 2XL. Website