A decade ago, it would have been impossible to imagine shopping online. The thought of the possibility to spend money to buy something without physically seeing it, smelling it, tasting it, or trying it on would have been ludicrous. However, with the advent of the internet, customers today cannot only shop online but are also preferring online shopping over physically shopping in brick and mortar stores.
While both online and physical shopping has its benefits and limitations, with each passing day, the advantages of online shopping seem to outweigh its shortcomings. Let us have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping v/s offline shopping.
Convenience is one of the key benefits of online shopping as the ease that online shopping provides is incomparable. The ability to search extensively, compare widely amongst multiple brands, and to buy a product in a matter of a few clicks from the comfort of your home is unparalleled. With same-day and next-day deliveries, you do not even have to wait very long for your purchase to arrive. What’s more, most online shopping sites provide free delivery. In comparison, with offline shopping searching and comparing to get the best fit requires tedious efforts of walking in and out of multiple stores, remembering to examine and decide on the right product manually.
- Better Prices
Amazing round-the-year discounts are often found on online shopping sites, with even top brands offering discounts of 50-60%. More than just the discount, one of the notable advantages of online shopping is the CashBacks you gain over and above them. Banks and Digital Wallets have happily jumped on the online shopping bandwagon by providing Reward Points, and instant CashBack offers in addition to brand discounts.
For example, HDFC Bank SmartBuy is a platform that has online merchants offering deals to the bank’s customers, who get to compare prices and save money on paying through their HDFC Bank Debit and Credit Card. You can also earn 10X Reward Points on the HDFC Bank Credit Card and 10% CashBack on Debit Card while making a payment or are shopping via SmartBuy. You can also make payments through the PayZapp app in this case.
While offline shopping sees discount sales as well, these are far and few and happen only once or twice a year.
One of the many advantages of online shopping is that geographical limitation is no longer a factor. With offline shopping, you are restricted to the shops and brands accessible to you and available in your vicinity. However, with online shopping, the variety of offerings has no limitation whatsoever with the whole gamut of offerings available in any part of the world offering to ship to your locality accessible at the click of a button.
Trust is an area where online shopping still lags as several instances have been reported of customers being duped on receiving products that did not match the description claimed or turned out to be knock-offs. In spite of provisions to return the product, they are often tedious and break the trust of the customer. However, online marketplaces are working hard to ensure the authenticity of products sold on their platform. In comparison, offline purchases assure no surprises on this end as you are purchasing it only after seeing and validating its authenticity.
- Online Payment
A primary concern with online shopping in its nascent stages was trusting vendors and marketplaces with personal Credit or Debit Card details. However, with online shopping becoming more and more secure over the years, the reluctance to make online payments is gradually reducing. The acceptance has been built by addressing the trust issue over time by giving customers an option to pay online or to pay cash on delivery(COD). COD addressed the trust issue and also offered an avenue for those without the financial means to make online payments using credit cards to make purchases.
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- No Pressure shopping
Another of the significant advantages of online shopping is the freedom to shop without the influence or pressure from sales staff often encountered in offline stores. Often, customers end up purchasing things at the spur of the moment when influenced by competent sales staff at the stores, irrespective of whether they needed the product. With online shopping, this is no longer the case as you can specifically look for what you wish to purchase and place an order to buy only those articles. However, online shopping can become dangerous, too if you don’t exercise self-control.
One of the top benefits of online shopping is the time and efforts saved by shopping virtually. With online marketplaces striving for seamless shopping interfaces, customers can browse and wishlist products as and when they have time to spare while commuting or in parts in between other tasks. Offline shopping still requires customers to carve out time specifically to go out to the stores and shop, which may lead to delays in obtaining necessary products.
While there are still some aspects of online shopping that needs improvement, any consideration of the benefits of online v/s offline shopping tends favourably towards online shopping. Online shopping is convenient, seamless, economical, and efficient, and has everybody hooked!