Online shopping has grown into a multibillion-dollar business over the last few decades. Purchasing goods and services via the internet has become the norm for millions of people across the globe. Virtual consumption has skyrocketed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this change is becoming more than just a temporary trend. This increase is causing a mindset shift. The online shopping experience is becoming increasingly like the in-person experience. Businesses are continually adding new features and services for online consumers to provide them with the same level of support and comfort they would receive in a physical store by implementing chat bots and virtual shopping assistances, AI solutions that recommend matching products according to customers’ preferences, augmented reality apps and many others.
Online shopping statistics
As a result, over 2.14 billion people worldwide conducted online purchases in 2021. Forecasts predict that global ecommerce sales currently worth $4.891 trillion will reach $6.4 trillion by 2024.
Consumer habits are unquestionably transitioning towards mobile commerce. Over 50% of customers shop more on their mobile devices than in-store meaning having a user-friendly mobile app is a precondition for business success nowadays.
With stores offering both free shipping and free ship-to-store options, online shopping appears as a win-win for both retailers and consumers. Even a largely popular and convenient solution such as ecommerce has its own benefits and downsides….
A closer look at the key pros of online shopping:
- Convenience and 24/7/365 accessibility
Unlike physical shops online stores are never closed (except for possible website downtimes, but with a wisely chosen IT service provider business can minimize these risks and avoid huge reputational and financial losses). If you choose to shop at midnight with your pyjamas on, an online store makes it possible. No need to worry about getting to the shop, parking your car, which saves on fuel cost and a consumer’s precious time.
- Better user-experience and customer service
With online shopping it is easy to forget about small annoyances, including crowds of people, queues to the check-out, aggressive or unpleasant sales representatives. Online salespeople often get more in-depth product training than those who work at the local stores. Another added bonus: you can explore other customers’ reviews on the chosen product or service prior to purchase with the click of a button.
- Cost-effectiveness and variety of special offers
Because there is no money spent on overhead, many internet retailers provide goods at extremely low prices. Local retailers have operating costs such as rent, wages, utilities that are factored into the product markup, at least partially.
While shopping online you can easily compare prices at choose the better one. On top of this, most retailers offer exclusive deals, coupons, and discounts for online shoppers. With various rewards programs and free delivery, you can significantly optimize your spending.
A closer look at the cons of online shopping:
- No opportunity to inspect an item physically
Online customers are unable to personally inspect or try on the products they are considering buying. Unless a consumer is intimately familiar with a brand or product, online purchase can be a gamble when it comes to acquiring precisely what they need.
- Cyber security issues and risk of fraud
Online shopping creates a more vulnerable consumer to threats like cyber security risk that include credit card frauds, phishing, hacking, identity theft, counterfeit products, bogus websites, and other scams. Keep in mind, that shopping via unsecured Internet connection, e g public Wi-Fi network will put a consumer at extremely high risk.
- Delivery problems and delays
Even the best delivery companies and online shops sometimes fail to deliver, so there is no guarantee that a consumer will receive an order on time unless it is picked up at the store. Purchases are misplaced, detoured, damaged, stolen, or delivered to the wrong address and unfortunately it happens more often than you might think.
To ensure your online shopping experience is pleasant and satisfying, be sure to do the following prior to purchase completion:
- Ensure that retailer’s website or app values your privacy and confidentiality.
- Look through customer reviews to formulate your own judgements about a retailer’s reliability and business reputation.
- Carefully overview the refund policy and make sure to read the fine print.