My first try of online shopping was back in 4th year college. That time, my life revolved around marketing cases and plans, presentations, group reports and a lot of research and paper works. As in, a lot! My best friend back then was my laptop and of course a reliable internet connection. It was also during those times that we got to work more in groups. My groupmate then, was the one who made us go into online shopping and showed us its perks.
Here’s how it went. The four of us were working on a paper with our laptops when one of our groupmate pulled out from her bag an android tablet. Back then, android tablets were not so common and a little pricey. We were all amazed and would also want to buy one since it also functions like a laptop plus it’s handy. She shared to us that she got it from ebay and that it’s cheaper compared to those in malls. Right there and then, the three of us decided to make an ebay account and purchase the android tablet. 🙂 Since we bought in bulk, the seller also gave us a discount. Two days after, we all had our brand new android tablets – like a boss! 🙂
Since then, online shopping has become a helpful routine for me.
One of the reasons why I like online shopping is because it is convenient. I think there is no more convenient way of buying something you need than clicking that “buy” button in a website. The tedious and time consuming practice of roaming around stores and malls looking for the items in your shopping list is replaced by scrolling over a shopping site for the items you need, adding the items to your virtual shopping cart and directing into the check out page for your payment. Several days after, your purchased items are right on your doorsteps at home or in your office or wherever you would want your purchased items to be delivered.
Shopping online is also more convenient when the item you need is out of stock at the retailer’s brick and mortar store. Inventory in online shops are too many that items would hardly go out of stock. One time, I went looking for office shoes in a nearby mall. It turned out, my shoe size was not available anymore. I tried searching for it in an online store and they had the complete set of sizes for that particular design. So, without thinking twice, I bought the shoes online.
Comparing prices of items is more convenient when shopping online. Searching the item would generate a number of retailers for that item, quoted in different prices. It is easier to compare prices and go for the item sold at the lowest price.
Paying for the item is also convenient when shopping online as there also sites which allows you to choose the payment channel. Some online shopping sites would allow you to pay via banks, payment centers, credit cards or even cash-on-delivery (COD). I usually go for COD when this option is available such that I can personally check the item (if it’s the same item I ordered, if it’s free from defects, etc.) before receiving it from the courier. Thus, if it is otherwise, you can immediately return or ship the item back to the seller.
There are also times when online shopping is not convenient or less convenient than the traditional in-store shopping.
As mentioned, there are times when items purchased are with defects or the item shipped is different from what you purchased. This is inevitable since in online shopping, you don’t have the liberty of checking the item before your purchase. It is a hassle on our part to return the item especially if there are no drop-off points indicated for returned items. Thus, when purchasing online, we should always see to it that we check on the terms regarding return and exchange of the item – how to return the item, where to return the item and refund or money back guarantee.
Online shopping is also less convenient to buyers who want the products ASAP. Online sites usually have standard turnaround time from online purchase to receipt of item by the buyer. This usually would take 3-7 days or more depending on the buyer’s location, the seller/warehouse’s location and the courier.
Though a number of online sites and retailers make it more convenient to compare prices, these also make online shopping less convenient at the same time. How? More sellers mean you have to choose which of these are reliable and trustworthy and not bogus. Since you don’t get to examine the product before buying, you should carefully choose a site or retailer that would most likely give you the product as it is expected. Extra caution is necessary whenever the internet is involved; it also follows in online shopping.
Since, my first online shopping experience, I have already purchased a number of items. Some of which I’ve been very satisfied and happy. Though there are some I wish I didn’t buy at all.
Here are a few of the things I bought online / I will continue buying online without hesitation:
- Bags. They are usually what you see and read is what you get, most especially if bought in B2C sites. They are usually less expensive online and designs & varieties are always available.
- Home necessities such as shoe racks, organizers, storage boxes, etc. They are most of the time up to 25%-75% off compared to mall prices. And always a value for money.
- Hotel Room Reservations. Buying these online is more convenient and usually at a lower rate compared to booking through the company channels (even on the company website itself). There are websites that specialize on hotel room reservations / bookings such as agoda.com and bookings.com that show a number of available rooms at a lower rate which are sometimes contrary to the details and information indicated on the hotel company website. But of course we all know that this is legit e-business with hotel companies who agree to pay these websites in exchange of confirmed room bookings for let’s say a month or so depending on their agreement. Anyhow this is still a great deal for us online shoppers.
Meanwhile, here are the products I will have to think twice before buying over the internet. Some of which I have bought but have fallen short my expectations.
- As mentioned earlier I have experienced buying a pair of shoes in an online store without thinking twice since they got my shoe size which was unavailable in their local store. It turned out that the shoe size I specified doesn’t fit me perfectly. Lesson learned? Think before you click. Shoes should be bought with prudence since these should be for fitting before purchasing. Online sites should include measurements to give a buyer an idea how big or small the product is.
- Same reason with number 1. Unless you’re 100% sure that it will fit you, better think it over first or else you’ll just have to give them away.
- Vacation packages / Restaurant Discount Vouchers. You can save a lot of money from buying these because they cost 25%-50% off the regular price. However, validity and legitimacy of these items should be carefully evaluated before clicking the buy now option as various cases of fraud have been reported concerning these products/services.
And below are the products I wouldn’t buy over the internet simply because they are for me too costly for a risk I would take in case the product will not be delivered / is lost / is fake / is defective. My first online shopping experience buying an android tablet is an exception though.:)
- Electronic Gadgets
- Home Appliance
So there – my own firsthand experience of online shopping! For those who haven’t tried it yet, go! Go online and find something you might want to buy. It may not be as expensive as an android tablet. A moderately priced item can be a start – in case you regret buying it, you can always give it to someone who would want it as a gift or would need it more than you do. There’s no harm in trying but I think you’ll appreciate online shopping in one way or another when you do. Enjoy!