Most people do a lot of searching for various products before they go out to the store and actually make the purchase. This seems to make sense for a lot of products, but not always.
It seems the more compact and easily shippable a product is, the more likely it is that it will be a successful online purchase.
For instance, music, eBooks, books in general, DVDs and informational products are easily downloadable and you have immediate access to them or are easily shippable.
Other things, like furniture, wedding dresses and remodeling supplies are probably best suited for a visit to the store. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, it is just more cumbersome.
Some of the Pros of buying on-line:
1) You have a large selection in size, shape, color, material, etc, all right there in big beautiful color. I was once given a designer book on chairs. I had no idea how many different designs of chairs alone there are. It’s fun just to see the variety of items online.
2) The obvious advantage to ordering online is the presumption of saving time. Simply select the item, fill out the form and voila!, it arrives on the computer or on the door step.
3) Refunds are immediately credited back to your account.
4) You don’t have to find parking or wait in line for completing the purchase.
5) I suppose you could also say it’s less embarrassing to have your credit card say “over limit” when you’re online instead of in front of a clerk.
6) Pampered Hostess knows you always check your limit before going shopping so you don’t encounter number 5 above. 😉
7) Shopping can be done at lunch or after the kids are in bed.
8) Make sure the online site has HTTPS:// (not just HTTP://) the “S” stands for “secure” and it is safe to use that site. Some common Safe HTTPS:// sites include PayPal, e-Junkie, (which uses PayPal), Amazon, Apple, etc. You get the picture.
9) One of the tricks I suggest to my students is to buy a generic debit prepaid card and put a “shopping amount” on it. When the card is empty, shopping is over for now. It also protects their identity when they are shopping online, since no personal information is needed for buying the debit card. If the card ever gets lost or stolen, the loss is limited to the amount remaining on the card. In fact, if you write down the card information and store it in a safe place, you can use the card online even if you’ve lost it. That information alone is worth the cost of this article.
Ah, but you’re probably reading this article to see if there really are any disadvantages to buying online. There are several.
Some of the Cons of buying on-line:
1) There can be high shipping and handling costs. Make sure to add these costs to your “Total Cost of Purchase” to determine if you saved any money.
2) Some products do best with a “touch and feel” to them. A fabric for instance that is “pin dot velvet” certainly has a different feel than a “hemp woven” feel. To select the fabric of a sofa, you’d really want to “take the fabric for a ride”, so to speak.
3) Ordering Ice Cream online didn’t work. Trust me.
4) Using eBay is fairly safe these days, but you still have to be careful to not send cash. (Use an “escrow” type account like PayPal which only releases the funds AFTER you have stated that you received the item in good order.)
5) People have reported mixed success using Craig’s List to buy and sell. It isn’t really “online” purchasing, but since it is so widely talked about, I’ve decided to add it here. There are countless examples of people who have been very disappointed with their purchase on Craig’s List with no way to return the product and no recourse. Besides, do you really want that strange man delivering a product to your house and knowing where you live?
6) One obvious disadvantage is when one needs to return an item. Re-packaging and shipping can become a hassle and then the dreaded trip to the post office to send it back.
7) People tend to “overspend”, that is, spend beyond their budget when they go shopping. Being online for hours at a time shopping can become addictive to some people.
8) People on average spend 37 ½ hours a week watching T.V. I don’t know how they do that but c’est la vie. Anyway, when you add “computer time shopping”, it really adds up. There is a certain amount of exercise one gets when walking the malls. This is actually a good thing. It also gets you out into the world where the creative juices for writing articles can arise.
I just realized that I’ve only scratched the surface on this subject, so I will have to write a second edition.
Some things NOT to order online:
Lottery Tickets from Nigeria
Unsolicited Financial Investments
“Antiques” from the Holy Land
Bottom line, use some common sense.
Is there anything you bought online that you’d recommend or recommend Not to buy?