Being busy with work, and as a mum, I’m a big fan of online shopping.”

Kirsty Gallacher, Entertainer

Pros and Cons of Online Shopping

advantages and disadvantages of online shopping

Online shopping has become extremely popular over the past decade. In our nowadays society, we order large numbers of goods from online shops instead of buying them in a physical store.

Even though online shopping is quite convenient and also has many other advantages, it also implies some problems.

In this article, the pros and cons of online shopping are discussed in detail.

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Advantages of Online Shopping

  1. Online shopping is convenient
  2. Often cheaper
  3. Bigger variety of products
  4. Location-independent as long as there is an internet connection
  5. High levels of flexibility
  6. You can order anytime you want
  7. Easier price comparisons
  8. You don’t have to be in overcrowded stores
  9. Avoidance of sales staff who wants to market products to you
  10. You can read plenty of reviews before buying products
  11. You might find better products during your online research
  12. Shopping online can save you plenty of time
  13. Higher chance for discounts and coupons
  14. Better selection of second-hand products
  15. You can save fuel
  16. You can save nerves since you do not need a parking spot
  17. Higher level of objectivity

Online shopping is convenient

One crucial advantage of online shopping is that it is quite convenient. It doesn’t matter whether you just got up and are sitting in your bad with your pajama, you could still shop and do not have to worry to get dressed before going to the local store.

Therefore, online shopping gives you a great level of flexibility since you do not have to show up in person.

Often cheaper

Buying online is often also much cheaper compared to buying products in local stores. This is due to the fact that local stores have to pay higher costs for rent and staff while online shops can save on those expenses, which in turn translates into lower prices for customers.

Thus, shopping online is not only more convenient, it also gives you the opportunity to save you plenty of money in the long run if you do it right.

Bigger variety of products

Through online shopping, you will also have the opportunity to choose from a bigger variety of products.

For instance, while there will only be a quite confined variety of products in a physical store due to space restrictions, there is virtually no limit for the number of goods that can be offered and sold online since those goods do not have to be stored in online shops but can rather be distributed from large distribution centers once the order has been placed.

Hence, you have also a much bigger variety of products online and also a variety of numerous different shops to choose from, which makes it much more likely to find the product that fits best to your preferences.

Location-independent as long as there is an internet connection

Another benefit of online shopping is that it doesn’t really matter where you are. You can either order from your computer at home, from your smartphone while you are going to work or from an internet café if you do not have your own device for some reason.

Therefore, as long as you have a valid internet connection, you can order from wherever you want, which gives you a great level of flexibility regarding when and where to do your shopping.

High levels of flexibility

In general, due to various characteristics, online shopping gives you a much greater level of flexibility compared to buying products in physical stores.

Since you can choose from hundreds of different stores and can also order from almost everywhere you want, you will not be confined to a limited number of physical shops or products.

Thus, if you love flexibility and to be able to choose from a huge variety of products, online shopping is definitely the way to go for you.

You can order anytime you want

Another upside of shopping online is that you are not restricted to the opening hours of physical shops. For instance, if you work in a demanding job for quite long hours, chances are that you will not be able to make it to the store in time since in some countries, many stores close quite early in the evening.

Hence, if you live in one of those countries and have to work long hours at a regular basis, online shopping might be great for you since you can order in the middle of the night and still get your product in just a few days.

Easier price comparisons

Not only are the average price levels much lower in online stores compared to physical stores, also comparing prices among shops is much easier.

This gives you a further advantage when it comes to saving money since you often have marketplaces that automatically give you a list of the shops that offer the lowest price for the respective product.

Therefore, it is quite easy to save plenty of money through online shopping, which may add up to many thousands of dollars over the course of your life.

You don’t have to be in overcrowded stores

While some people like to go shopping in crowded stores, the majority of us don’t like to be surrounded by an excessive number of people.

Thus, if you want to shop in a rather quiet atmosphere instead of an overcrowded store, online shopping is perfect since you can do it from your home in a relaxed manner.

Avoidance of sales staff who wants to market products to you

In physical stores, you may also have to deal with aggressive sales staff who wants to sell you products which you actually do not need at all. Therefore, in order to avoid those unpleasant experiences and in order to avoid buying those unnecessary products, it might be a good idea to avoid attending those shops and to go for online shopping instead.

You can read plenty of reviews before buying products

Online shopping also gives you the opportunity to inform yourself in a profound manner about the characteristics and features of products so you can choose the product that best serves your needs. There are plenty of product reviews on the internet and you will soon get a good impression regarding the pros and cons of certain products.

Consequently, it is easy to avoid bad products through online shopping since you can read many different reviews instead of having to rely only on the opinion of the salesperson in the local store.

You might find better products during your online research

Many times, you might search for a certain product online, but realize that there might actually be better ways to solve a problem after doing some online research.

Hence, while you might have bought a certain product in a store that actually does not solve your problem in the best possible manner, you might have found better alternatives in online stores during your research and the overall chance to find the best product to solve your problems will be maximized due to this online research.

Shopping online can save you plenty of time

In general, since shopping online is so easy, it can also save you plenty of time in the long run. Imagine you have to attend a physical store. You have to get there, search for a long time and finally wait in line at the checkout counter.

All this costs precious time that you can spend for more joyful activities instead if you rely on online shopping instead of buying from physical stores.

Higher chance for discounts and coupons

In many cases, you might even find coupon codes or further discounts online. While prices are generally lower online compared to physical shops, you can save even more money by using those discounts and coupon codes.

Therefore, especially if you are currently low on money, online shopping provides you with an excellent opportunity to save plenty of money which you can spend on other things you like instead.

Better selection of second-hand products

Online shopping not only gives you a better selection of new products, it also gives you the opportunity to choose from a bigger variety of used products. From an environmental perspective, we should all try to buy more second-hand products in order to make our resource use more efficient.

Thus, if you are an eco-friendly person or only want to save money, you will also find a much bigger variety of used products online compared to physical shops.

You can save fuel

You can even save more money due to online shopping since you also do not have to drive to your local store by car. This can save you plenty of money in the long run, especially if your store is many miles away.

You can save nerves since you do not need a parking spot

In some shopping malls, it is also quite hard to find a parking spot, especially on special occasions where certain discounts are offered and almost everyone goes shopping during this time.

Consequently, if you want to save your nerves, going for online shopping instead may be a great way to stay relaxed.

Higher level of objectivity

Since you can compare the prices in many shops and can also read a high number of reviews online, you will be far more likely to make an objective buying decision compared to buying from a physical store where you do not have those opportunities.

Thus, in the long run, chances are that your buying decisions will be much more profound online compared to using physical stores.

Disadvantages of Shopping Online

  1. Not suitable for people who don’t have an internet connection
  2. Some people may not trust online stores
  3. Privacy concerns
  4. Issues with confined payment options
  5. The older generation may struggle with online shopping
  6. You have to wait a few days to get your product
  7. Ordering incorrect quantities
  8. Excessive unnecessary emissions
  9. Global warming
  10. Excessive waste production due to high number of returns
  11. Some people rather want to have personal advice in physical stores
  12. Lack of opportunities to actually try out products
  13. You may not be at home when your parcel is delivered
  14. Some parcels get stolen
  15. Some items may break in the delivery process
  16. Some online shops are frauds
  17. Shipping costs
  18. Possible issues with returns
  19. You may want to support your small local stores

Not suitable for people who don’t have an internet connection

Although there are many advantages to online shops, there are also many issues related to shopping online. One problem with online shopping is that it is not possible without a working internet connection. I admit, almost everyone of us has a working internet connection in our nowadays society in theory.

However, if you are commuting in public transport or in several other public places, chances are that your internet connection might be quite poor and online shopping may not be possible due to that.

Some people may not trust online stores

Moreover, some people are also rather skeptical about online stores. Especially people who are not familiar with this kind of technology will feel more comfortable buying from local physical stores since they think they cannot make any mistakes by doing so.

Thus, online stores may not meet the preferences of everyone of us, even though they might provide many advantages from an objective standpoint.

Privacy concerns

Another issue with online stores is that personal data has to be processed and stored in large quantities. However, if there are safety gaps, chances are that this sensitive data is stolen and used for unlawful purposes.

Thus, online shopping also always implies a certain risk that your data ends up in the wrong hands, which may lead to serious trouble in the long run.

Issues with confined payment options

Some online stores also only allow a quite confined variety of different payment methods. For instance, some online shops require you to have a credit card.

However, in some countries on our planet, it is still not quite common to own a credit card and people in those countries might not be able to use those online stores due to that.

The older generation may struggle with online shopping

Especially our older generation may struggle with online shopping since they simply didn’t grow up with this kind of technology and the internet as a whole may seem quite suspect to older people.

Therefore, for the older generation, it might still be better to buy from physical stores instead of local stores in order to prevent any problems related to online shopping.

You have to wait a few days to get your product

Another downside of online shopping is that you often have to wait a few days or even a few weeks until your product is shipped to you.

In contrast, in physical shops, you can just pick up the product you want, go to the cashier and you can take it with you the same day.

Therefore, especially in case you are under time pressure, you might refrain from online shopping and buy in a conventional store instead.

Ordering incorrect quantities

Although buying from most online stores is rather straightforward, there might still be the issue that you might order the wrong quantities of products if you are not careful since some online stores are rather non-transparent regarding which products you are about to order or this information may also not be displayed in a readable manner.

Thus, before checkout, pay close attention to what is in your shopping cart in order to avoid any unpleasant financial consequences.

Excessive unnecessary emissions

Online shopping also implies the excessive emission of harmful gases into our atmosphere. Since all of your parcels have to be delivered to you, this implies the use of a high number of parcel trucks that are used on a daily basis and that are mainly operated by fossil fuels.

Therefore, ordering online also implies serious levels of air and particle pollution and leads to a decline in overall air quality.

Global warming

Due to excessive greenhouse gas emissions related to the delivery of items from online shops, also the global warming issue is exacerbated. Since global warming is one of our biggest environmental problems, we should try to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and therefore, refusing from shopping online may be a good idea in order to slow down global warming.

Excessive waste production due to high number of returns

Another issue with online shopping is that people often order large numbers of products and return many of the products they do not actually like. This kind of unreasonable and irresponsible shopping behavior leads to a state where excessive amounts of waste are produced since many items are just disposed into the trash once they had been returned instead of reselling them.

Some people rather want to have personal advice in physical stores

For some people, it is still important to get advice in a personal manner from a salesperson. Even though it might seem questionable whether a salesperson can truly objectively advise a client, some people might still rather rely on the opinion of those sales persons instead of looking for reviews online. For people with those preferences, physical stores may be better than online stores.

Lack of opportunities to actually try out products

An additional problem with online stores is that you will not be able to try out stuff in person. You rather have to rely on reviews from other people.

Even though reviews are generally good to get a better impression regarding the quality of a product, there might be some details missing in those reviews.

Thus, if you are a person who wants to try out things and see them in a physical manner before you buy them, online shops may not be the right way to go for you.

You may not be at home when your parcel is delivered

If you are working, chances are that you will not be at home when your parcel is delivered to you. Although this is not a big problem, you might still have to pick it up somewhere, which might take precious time which you might rather want to spend on other more enjoyable activities.

Some parcels get stolen

Even though it is rather rare, there had also been cases where parcels got stolen. This problem is especially severe for deliveries that are just put in front of the door of the respective person.

It should be obvious that it is quite easy for thieves to steal those items since they are not secured at all and the chances of being caught are rather low.

Some items may break in the delivery process

You should also be aware of the fact that some products may break during the delivery process. This is especially true for products that are rather fragile.

For instance, it might not be a good idea to order precious glasses online since the chances that those items break may be quite high in case they are not packaged in a proper manner.

Some online shops are frauds

Even though the majority of online shops are legit, there are still some websites that claim to be online stores while instead, they are a kind of fraud and you might just lose your money in case you order in those fake stores.

Therefore, it might be a good idea to rely on trustworthy and established online shops instead of online stores you never heard of in order to avoid getting ripped off.

Shipping costs

While some online stores offer free shipping, many of them still charge you a certain shipping fee which may make the deal less attractive.

This is especially true when it comes to low-priced items since the fraction of the shipping costs compared to the value of the item becomes too big and it might even be cheaper to buy from physical stores in these cases.

Possible issues with returns

It may also be difficult to return items in certain online stores. While many stores have built a profound infrastructure regarding returns, others still take quite a long time until they refund your money.

Thus, issues with returns may be an additional issue related to online stores, at least if you buy from a dubious store which has a rather low reputation regarding customer satisfaction.

You may want to support your small local stores

Although the prices in your local store might be higher, you may still want to support it since you might know the shop owner and want to do him a favor so he will be able to maintain his business and stay competitive against the fierce competition from online stores.

Local stores are also important for the cityscape since without shops, the inner cities would be quite empty and soulless.

Top 10 Online Shopping Pros & Cons – Summary List

Online Shopping ProsOnline Shopping Cons
ConvenienceNo personal advice
Lower pricesYou can’t actually try things before buying them
Online shopping is location-independentOnline shopping implies excessive waste
Works anytime you wantPrivacy issues
You don’t have to shop in crowded storesPayment problems
No aggressive sales people aroundOlder generation may have its problems
More objective buying decisionsCan contribute to global warming
You don’t need to use your carExcessive returns
Bigger variety of productsYou have to wait a bit for delivery
You can read reviews before buying stuffSome products may break easily

Conclusion

Online shopping has made our lives much easier and convenient. It gives us the opportunity to shop for almost everything we want, from anywhere we want, at any time. This great level of flexibility gives us the opportunity to use our time as efficiently as possible and can also save us plenty of money in the long run.

Although there are also some issues related to online shopping, the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion. However, if you don’t agree and online shopping is not for you, you should still buy from physical shops.

Just do what’s in line with your personal preferences in order to improve your shopping experience as much as possible.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_shopping

https://medium.com/@johndkenny/the-history-of-online-shopping-d6ef35ab80d9

https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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