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The development of modern technology has revolutionized the way we do our shopping. Online shopping has grown tremendously throughout the world. In accordance to Internet World Stats (2014), the number of people who are using the Internet in 2012 has exceeded 2.41 billion, representing approximately 34.3 percent of the total population of the world. This trend has lead to an increase in the number of people who prefer shopping online by leaps and bounds. Online shopping is an activity which involves the purchase of products and services directly by using Internet. Consumers can discover their interested products by looking into the retailer’s website directly or by searching different online stores using a shopping search engine that has the option to show the pricing and accessibility of the same item at different e-retailers of the same product.
This paper argues that online shopping is a better alternative compared to retail shopping in terms of convenience, cost and merchandise. In recent times, it can be said that the online market has expanded with more producers promoting their products online as an alternate way to expand their business. This study helps digest into the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping and how it is revolutionizing the way products are bought and sold.
In brick-and-mortar stores, retailers do not usually offer the same price as online market due to its comparative higher cost in operating a physical store. Factors such as rental fees, electricity fees, payroll, and loss of shrinkage are added up to the gross margin as an expenses of operating business in retail shopping. Hence, retailers have found a solution that they can satisfy the needs of their customers’ demand, but at a lower operating cost, by creating an online store rather than establishing a physical store. This allows good online retailers to reap the benefits by passing the savings on to their customers through reducing the production’s cost. (Montaldo, 2019)
In terms of price accuracy, online shopping allows us to reduce the product and information search cost surrounding any particular product. A complete information allows consumers to enjoy a more captivating experience shopping online that also improves the quality of purchasing options. It can be seen that equipment and house fittings are more commonly bought in retail stores whereas electronic devices and clothes are bought more online due to the ample information provided. This indicates that comprehensiveness of data for internet channel choice is very important and will be a significant dimension. The twin benefits of lowering product search prices and offering complete product data drive manufacturers and consumers to make Internet decision-making efficient.
Besides that, the comparison of prices is much simpler with an opportunity to find the best deals online. Due to its extremely competitive internet market, numerous sites offer special rebates and unique discounts for online shoppers. Besides, getting the best deals and lower prices are feasible when customers are buying in bucks. When you add these up, shopping online saves a significant amount of money. Customer usually does not concerned by the discounted price tag whether it is actually lower than the product’s value. As long as they are purchasing something at a discounted price is sufficient to convince them to place an order. This illustrates why an overwhelming majority of consumers are paying attention to promotions, discounts, and coupons. As soon as there is a price reduction, they will act. As a matter of fact, approximately 30% of consumers claim that a coupon is sufficient to close the deal. In addition, 83% of consumers claim that they would mostly click the advertisement if it offers a promotion or discount. Several experiments have shown that thoughtful discounts work. So as long as consumers are convinced that they are getting the same quality and quantity at a reduced price than the previous one or the competitor’s one, consumers will be pleased to buy the products. (Rudolph, 2016).
Online shops are generally more diverse than retail stores and have a wider variety of products. It allows shoppers to search and compare relevant products and alternatives faster and easier. Its wide range of merchandise allows shoppers to experience a more satisfying shopping experience by granting them access to any kind of merchandise.
A necessary factor of shopping behaviour which boasts motivation for shopping is the tendency of variety-seeking (Lim, 2016). Variety seekers are generally attracted by the enormous differences in online shopping (Mallapragada, Chandukala, & Liu, 2016). Retail stores have limited ways to present their merchandise, this is a disadvantage when it comes to fulfilling shoppers’ variety seeking behavior. However, online shopping allows shoppers from any location to shop from a wide variety of merchandise on any online stores throughout the world. Shoppers can simply search by filtering product category, colors, size, and price range comfortably at anywhere they are. In other words, this increases the pleasure and satisfaction of their shopping experience. Shoppers can also easily find an alternative if the product is sold out due to the easy accessibility to a wide variety and diversity of products online (Overmars & Poels, 2015). This also helps shoppers to save time from physically entering another shop.
Online shops have more advantage in conveying the information of products to shoppers. In contrast to retail sellers, an online seller can provide sufficient information at little cost and space to fulfill the needs of shoppers (Saha, 2015). For instance, online shops can now communicate with shoppers via their web page with creative information and intriguing visual. This is more cost saving than traditional communication methods which retail shops used such as advertising. With the increasing growth of online shopping, product information and customers’ reviews have become an important source for consumers to determine the quality of products and making their purchase (Ludwig et al., 2013). Online shops also allow shoppers to post their reviews under their purchased products. This makes shoppers’ shopping experience more interactive and it builds shoppers’ trust in online shops. Besides that, online shops have more options in displaying their products. Online shops have high ability in displaying every product in the shop visually appealing to shoppers compared to retail shops. According to Melike (2014), shoppers were found to pick more identical items which they purchased online before during their offline shopping experience. It is due to better visualization of products after seeing the merchandise displayed on model and detailed online. Therefore, online shops have significantly higher capacity in transferring information, displaying products through creative visual, and allowing interactive and trust building reviews at lower cost compared to retail shops.
Now that customers are faced with less personal time, the advantages of offering comfort for online shopping should be considered. The desires for efficiency has substantially increased as consumers have less time for other activities including shopping due to their hectic lifestyles, hence resulting to more consumers using online shopping (Kumar and Kashyap, 2018). In accordance to a study by Civic Science of U.S. web users in March 2018, 43% of participants mentioned that comfort is the main reason for digital purchases (King, 2018).
Consumers want the greatest online shopping experience possible but what constitutes a promising e-commerce experience varies from person to person. However, there are some things that marketers can count on (Rosler P, 2014). Online shopping are generally accessible 24 hours per day. In addition, majority of the people customersin most nations have access to the Internet both at work and at home. Visiting a standard retail store, on the other hand, needs travel or transport and expenses such as gas, parking tickets or bus tickets, and typically has to take place during working hours. In addition, customers can search for particular products that include the model number, style, size, and color they want to purchase. Furthermore, determining whether the products are available or out of stock is also easy. By providing flexible options and making certain information easy to find, consumers can gain access to a great deal of information with just one click at any time and from anywhere (Rosler P, 2014).
Other operational benefits include the ability to reach a wide range of potential customers as it shortened the distances between countries and states. Online shopping has opened the doors to globalisation, allowing customers to purchase products from anywhere in the globe (Akhlaq A & Ahmed E, 2014). A retail store will always be limited by the amount of people in a given space it can serve. On the flip side, an online store would be able to serve everyone from all over the world with stable internet (Markus J, 2019). Its variety enables consumers to acquire hard-to-reach items or items that are a regional specialty of a particular area. This is a much less unattainable dream for retail market.
Trust is one of the underlying motivations for online shopping behavior. Some scholars and researchers claim that there are unwanted impacts of online shopping. Security is one of the most concerned issues when comes to online shopping. Consumers are usually worried about the whereabouts of their payment and goods purchased. Another concern from customers would be their privacy. Privacy is known as private and uncertainty combined with the provision of personal data on websites and the risk of making such facts public, including the retailer sharing personal data illegally with customers, and the client receiving unwanted contact from the e-retailer (Lu et al.,2013). Violation of consumers information is a crime that is on the rise which is the main cause of Internet privacy scams. This happens because customer information can be easily known and accessed online whenever a good is purchased.
There are plenty of solutions to solve the issues. A well developed legal system is one of the solutions that can strengthen customers’ trust in online shopping and tackle the security issue (Clemons et al., 2016). In their studies, they found that Singapore shoppers are more comfortable and feeling secure to shop online. They believe that unethical sellers cannot get away from punishment easily due to its well developed legal system in their country. Beside that, an easy solution would be to type the URL into the address bar. It is advised to use a web browser by accessing the retailer’s URL which may be more time consuming, but it keeps you on good and trusted websites. Using a new email can also be considered as it ensures you won’t get spam messages and won’t be easily hacked.. Lastly, securing your passwords will help you manage your accounts and keep it safe. Examples are by using a password manager which helps encrypt passwords that would otherwise be seen as plain text. With all this considered, online shopping should not be dismissed as unsafe, the potential to grow and expand is possibly immeasurable.
After conducting this research, it is concluded that online shopping allows a more cost-effective terms of trade which is more convenient and allows consumers to obtain accurate information about the products and gives an opportunity to the producers to show off their products on a wider scale. It also allows for more variety of products to be sold and produced as it provides more utility for customers who generally have unlimited wants and needs. Although online shopping has its downfall in its lack of security, it can be seen that this is a problem that can be easily fixed by taking a few productive steps. It’s clear to say that online shopping is overall a better and more preferred way of shopping.