Online shopping is not just a trend. With the restrictions of in person contact around the world, shoppers’ habits are changing and more people are turning to the internet to order the essentials. Many industries, even car dealerships, have either begun to dabble or refined their ecommerce practices to ensure customers can safely and easily purchase items through their websites.
If you’re still adjusting to the new virtual shopping reality we’ve had to adopt, you may be questioning whether the benefits of online shopping outweigh the in-person connection. Even the savviest of online shoppers have concerns about making purchases without ever coming into contact with what they’re buying.
Is the product I am purchasing what is shown in the photo? Is it worth the shipping costs? Is it safe to use my credit card online?
These common questions are worth delving into, so that you can understand how to approach online shopping and have the best user experience possible.
The Built In Benefits of Shopping Online
Whether you’re an avid online shopper or not, there is no denying the benefits of using your computer as your virtual shopping cart.
First of all, online shopping is convenient. You don’t have to get dressed, drive anywhere or find parking to shop online. Websites are open 24/7, so business hours need not apply. You can truly shop anywhere at any time, without any the added pressure of sales employees or closing times.
You may have also noticed that shopping online can be a lot more budget-friendly. Unlike brick-and-mortar shops, ecommerce sites have less overhead, and therefore can offer discounted prices online. Comparing prices is as simple as opening a new tab and no longer requires you to visit stores directly to get the best deal.
Ordering products online has also revolutionized the practice of gift giving. When simply armed with a shipping address, you have the ability to send gifts anywhere without an added trip to the post office.
How to Adapt to the Virtual Shopping Experience
Although the convenience of online shopping has added to its popularity, we don’t want to bypass the concerns some shoppers face when buying online for the first time.
Truth be told, not all websites are created equally. And since the checkout experience greatly affects how people feel about online shopping, if you’ve had one bad experience, it may turn you off from the rest. Putting this aside, since most companies have adapted to online shopping user experience, we’ll address a few common concerns and how to navigate through them.
The largest disadvantage to online shopping is the inability to physically see and touch the object you are buying. People like going to stores because they can feel the products for themselves, making them more likely to buy.
Most companies have supplemented this lack of contact by adding high quality images and videos of the products. However, I find that the most reliable visual example of the products are in photos posted by reviewers. These pictures allow you to see the product in use, without any photo retouching or expert lighting.
The mass of customer reviews can also help you determine the quality of the product you are buying. While we recommend taking all reviews with a grain of salt, sifting through the good and the bad typically leaves you with some quality information. This is knowledge you would not have when browsing through aisles at the store.
When purchasing perfume or food items, try to see if the company will send you a sample before you commit. You won’t always hear a yes, but it’s worth a try.
Most importantly, before you buy, make sure you are up to date with the return policy. Most websites let you return items for free, which can ease the stress for first time buyers.
Even though products are cheaper, sometimes you can be hit with shipping and handling fees that counteract the low cost.
Luckily, when it comes to cutting delivery costs, you have options.
Larger companies like Zappos and Kate Spade offer free shipping on all orders. Other popular stores like Target have low minimums or options for curbside pick-up to avoid charging more. Companies like Amazon take the membership route to offer free shipping. You can always browse couponing sites to find deals to cover the added shipping costs as well.
In a culture built around instant gratification, it is acceptable to be hesitant of online shopping because of the extended delivery times.
Of course when shopping in a store, you have the item you need that day, so adjusting your mindset to buy and wait can be a little more difficult.
Overcoming this concern is partially mental. There is some planning involved, and yes, you have to wait. But, almost all proper ecommerce sites have options for expedited shipping or allow you to use this option when signing up for a membership.So, you may have to wait a day or so, but the joy of opening a package will alleviate any stress it causes.
Is Online Shopping Worth it?
Short answer: yes.
Because of the revolution of online shopping, there are an insane number of products available to consumers at all times. The growth has sparked the industry to create websites that are user-friendly and offer memberships and discounts to negate the additional costs.
The best part is that because online shopping is still a relatively new experience, it is constantly evolving. You can get goods delivered to you within an hour no matter where you are. The changes that are on the horizon will only improve the online shopping experience.
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