Characteristics of Online Shopping
Online shopping has enjoyed unprecedented growth since its inception. In 2021, online retail accounted for roughly 18% of total retail sales worldwide. Analysts expect this trend to continue with projections showing that online retail could account for nearly a quarter of global retail sales by 2026. This incredible success is the result of two important characteristics of online shopping. Online shopping is both convenient and widely accessible. Let’s take a look at how these two attributes impacted the rapid growth of online shopping.
Online shopping is undoubtedly the most convenient way to shop. Practically any product you can think of can be purchased from the comfort of your own home. Everything from physical products like hairbrushes to the services of a leadership development consultant can be found online. And it is becoming very quick as well thanks to online retail giants like Amazon constantly finding ways to speed up the delivery process. These days, it is pretty rare for a package to take longer than a week to be delivered from any domestic store.
Another reason online shopping is convenient is because of the variety of products they offer. The huge inventory of online storefronts makes it easier to find several unique items at the same retailer. This is a major advantage online shopping has when compared to shopping in person. You might have to visit a handful of brick-and-mortar stores to find the exact same products you could buy from a single website. One of the primary reasons for Amazon’s success is that consumers can find everything they need from one location.
Online shopping is especially popular during the winter holidays because of its simplicity. Gone are the days when people are forced to sneak presents by their family members. With online shopping, you can order your loved ones’ gifts with complete secrecy. Many online retailers even have the option to mark the order as a gift. This way the presents you ordered will arrive a few days later in nondescript packaging.
Online shopping is also the most accessible way to shop. Digital retail made it possible for even small businesses to operate globally. And consumers can shop from anywhere because international shipping services are becoming more affordable. This is a level of accessibility that traditional shopping will never be able to offer.
Online shopping is also easier for people who have mobility issues or other disabilities. For instance, a blind person might struggle to navigate the aisles of a physical store. But they would have a much easier time using a screen reader to get around a website. The same can be said about individuals that use wheelchairs or cannot drive. With online shopping, these people can have the products they need delivered directly to them.
Some of the Most Common Hidden Costs
⦁ Additional Fees
Unfortunately, online shopping also makes it easier to sneak in hidden charges. Service fees, additional tax, and international transaction fees are all hidden fees you might find online. But markups are the most common hidden charge associated with online shopping. A markup is an increase in the price of a product meant to offset the higher cost of making the product available. For example, you might find that a product is more expensive on Amazon than on a company’s own website. That’s because Amazon charges other retailers to offer their products on its platform. This cost is usually passed on to the consumer through a markup.
Online shopping can also be more expensive during busier times of the year. The gift-giving season is a good example of this. More packages are mailed during the winter holidays than at any other time of the year. In response to this, many shipping companies will charge consumers seasonal surcharges. Fortunately, these additional costs are only temporary. But they can easily catch you off guard if you aren’t prepared for them.
List of Strategies to Avoid These Costs
⦁ Compare Prices
The simplest way to avoid hidden costs when shopping online is to compare prices. There are several online retailers at your fingertips, so use that to your advantage. Visit a few different stores before you commit to purchasing a product. Online prices for the same product can vary greatly depending on the company. This is especially true if you’re ordering a product from a foreign country. Different countries might have different taxes or regulations on a product that increases its price.
⦁ Avoid Expedited Shipping
We know that overnight shipping can be tempting, but it has some major drawbacks. Expedited shipping is harder on the environment and on your wallet. The faster speeds of expedited shipping require delivery vehicles to burn fuel at a higher rate. This means that more air pollution will result from the delivery process. Expedited shipping is also very expensive. Take a moment to consider if it is really necessary to splurge for overnight shipping. In most situations, it’s better to stick with the normal shipping method and be patient.