Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet Shopping

It feels great to shop from the comfort of our homes but is it really secure and safe out here on the internet? Certainly there are many advantages that come along with Internet shopping but we do have to take a look at the negative aspects of shopping on the Internet. Keep reading to understand the online shopping scenario and its associated advantages and disadvantages.
| Sunday, January 25, 2009
All we understand is that it is fairly easy to hit shopping websites, browse catalogues and compare products but we do have to keep in mind that there are particular risks associated with Internet shopping. If you drop at the wrong places and end up providing your personal information you would surely have to regret at some point. So, how can one choose where to shop, what are the safe places and how to go along shopping on the web without risking anything. True, there are risks, but we cannot stop harnessing the power of the web to shop for products and services. You can prepare a checklist for yourself before spending even a dime, it may go like this:
  • Does the website I am shopping on store my credit card number or personal information?
  • Does the website share my personal information with anyone?
  • Does the website have a secure socket layer or https protocol for dealing shopping transactions?
  • Does the website have universal safe payment modes such as Paypal or Google Checkout?
  • Is the website popular enough to gain trust or is it just some random website I landed on?
After answering to these questions, you would be able to decide better on whether to go ahead with your shopping. Apart from the security aspects, also go through the website's terms and conditions, privacy policy, delivery aspects, payment modes, etc. to enjoy a better shopping experience.

Advantages of Shopping Online

It is quite easy to shop on the Internet. All that is needed is a average Internet connection and some basic knowledge about the web. You can easily jump in to websites browse their offerings, compare products from the same category, read reviews and make rational buying decisions.

Won't it be nice to get everything delivered at your doorsteps without you even stepping outside your homes? Internet shopping is very comfortable and we can get buying our grocery right by sitting on our comfortable sofa watch our favorite TV shows.

No Hard Cash

Buying products without paying cash does sound tempting. Internet shopping enables one to buy easily on the web without paying for anything in cash. Everything would be handled just by your credit card or paypal account. This especially holds good when you are buying costly products like that of plasma tvs and other high end electronics.

Comparison Shopping
Internet shopping enables us to do instant comparisons, view user ratings, read reviews and make uniform and rational buying decisions. It is otherwise hard to understand and predict whether a certain product is really worth buying. By doing quick comparisons, we get a chance to explore all the positives and negatives of a certain product or service.

Discount Shopping
Since there exists a fierce competition on the Internet between different shopping websites, customer is always the winner. With the rising competition, websites offer gift certificates, discount coupons, shopping points, cash back and what not to tap in potential customers. Who benefits from all these advantages? Us!

Disadvantages of Internet Shopping

While shopping on the Internet can be a pleasing and rewarding experience, the negatives or disadvantages associated with Internet shopping cannot be neglected. Let us take a look at some of the disadvantages of online shopping:

Identity Theft
While shopping online, we do have to reveal our personal information to a certain extent. But to what extent is a question worth lingering into. Some websites demand extensive personal information to use for their marketing purposes. But this can go very wrong and someone can use the information for a hell lot of evil purposes.

Credit Card Information
Ah! So the shopping portals ask for your credit card numbers. Do keep a close eye to see whether they use the same just for the duration of transaction or do they permanently store your credit card number. Some websites charge recurring fees or charges and you might end up receiving bills each month. It is very important that you use your credit card numbers very cautiously on the web. Always check out the website's privacy policies, terms and conditions, etc before proceeding with a transaction. It is best advised not to use a credit card number directly on a website but rather choose a payment gateway such as paypal to pay online. This helps you have a central paying authority which takes care of your security hassles. But do know that some payment gateways do charge a certain percentage of fees for transactions.

This is the worst thing to happen. We buy a shiny beautiful digital camera, pay for it, receive it and are quite happy. Days pass and suddenly we start receiving a hoard of emails offering discounts, special schemes, etc. We wonder what's happening. Welcome to email spam. May websites do have a clause in their privacy policy document that your email can be shared with third parties to send you relvant offers. It doesn't seem an issue in the beginning but can surely fill all sorts of "unrelevant" junk in your mail box as time passes. Oh! Hell! who needs enlargement pills. May be some do but most don't!

Incorrect Reviews
Although many reviews on shopping products are considered to be genuine but this is not always the case. Times are changing, market competition is being cut throat and shopping websites have hired goons to put biased reviews for products. People often read reviews innocently, decide that - 'ok this product/service is awesome' (because someone you don't know said that?) and you end up buying junk and regretting your decision! It is phenomenal to see how many people do actually believe the reviews that float around on the Internet. Whatever reviews you decide to watch for, do ensure that your study is quite extensive with regards to that and you have done adequate comparisons to arrive at rational buying decisions.
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