Online shopping has emerged as a new and important way of making purchases. Due to the increased use of computers and the internet, more people have started to engage in this activity. Businesses see online shopping as an opportunity that can be exploited to increase profitability. For this reason, many businesses in the UK are offering online shopping services to their customers. By doing this, the businesses are able to increase their sales and attract more customers.
Consumers also benefit from the convenience offered by electronic commerce. To begin with, online shopping is easy to take part in. The WebWise Team (2012) explains that a person only needs a credit or debit card and a secure password in order to engage in online shopping. However, online shopping has some potential drawbacks due to its electronic nature. This paper will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of shopping online with examples from my own experiences in online shopping.
Benefits of Shopping Online
Online shopping is convenient for the customer since he can make purchases from the comfort of his house. To take part in online shopping, a person simply needs to visit the website of the business and browse through the list of available goods or services. He then clicks on the item he wants to purchase and once the payment is made, the transaction is complete (WebWise Team 2012).
The goods are then delivered to the customers’ address within a given duration of time. This is a very easy way of shopping compared to traditional shopping where a person has to physically visit the business in order to make a purchase. Personally, I have used online shopping to buy books from online stores. I have been able to obtain these products without visiting the bookstores in person.
This has saved me the time and expense it would have taken to travel to the physical location of the shops. Another major advantage of online shopping is that it allows the consumer to search for the preferred good from many stores in a convenient manner. Before making a purchase, most people prefer to visit a number of stores and discover the best style of the product they want to buy.
Online shopping makes it easy for the person to search for products from numerous stores. Using search engines such as Google and Bing, a person is able to identify numerous stores offering the same product (WebWise Team 2012). It is more likely that you will find the product that suits your exact requirements due to the great variety presented by online shopping.
When shopping for gifts for my friends, I find the large variety offered by online shopping very helpful. I am able to obtain a large catalogue of goods to choose from and find the most fascinating gift for my friends. Online shopping is therefore very beneficial to me since it gives me access to more shops and products.
The last major advantage of online shopping is that it assists the customer to find the best deal on a product. When making a purchase, a person mostly searches for the store that offers the best quality product at the lowest price. It is therefore important to make a comparison of the pricing and quality of products offered by the various stores. In most cases, different stores offer different pricing on particular products so that they can attract customers.
When engaging in traditional shopping, a person has to be involved in window-shopping in order to discover the best deal. This is a tedious process as you may have to visit numerous stores before you find the best deal. Most people end up settling for a deal that is not necessarily the best. This is not the case with online shopping where one can compare prices at the click of a mouse.
It is easier to find discounts on the product you want to purchase through online shopping by looking for the product through search engines. WebWise Team (2012) explains that online shopping is beneficial when you want to compare prices for products that are identical regardless of the store you purchase them from. I have found bargain deals in electronic products by searching through various online stores. As a result, I have benefited from the best price because of online shopping.
Disadvantages of Shopping Online
In spite of the many benefits of online shopping, this mode of purchase has some significant drawbacks. Undoubtedly, the most significant drawback is the security concerns associated with the use of credit cards online. In order to complete the online shopping process, one has to offer payment for the product selected. To complete this payment section, one is required to enter his credit or debit card details into the website (Bradbury 2008).
The credit and debit card details are sensitive since they can be stolen by an intruder. If this happens, the intruder can misuse the customer’s credit card by making purchases that will be charged to the credit card owner. This will result in financial loss for the customer. The security risk associated with online shopping has led to many people avoiding this exposure to hackers and fraudsters.
Bradbury (2008) confirms that the fear of giving out credit card details online prevents many people from engaging in online shopping. The risk of having my credit card numbers stolen as I engage in online shopping has greatly limited my participation in online shopping. So far, I only engage in online shopping from stores that I can trust. I have faith in the security system provided by these stores and therefore feel safe when making payments there.
Another significant drawback of online shopping is that it requires the customers to reveal personal information. If this information is accessed by a third party, it might violate the privacy of the customer. In order for the transaction to be complete, the customer has to provide information including his name, address, and telephone number. The customer also has to provide information on the product that he is buying from the website.
Most online stores store this information on a permanent basis in their databases. There are major concerns over the safety of the customer information stored by the online store. Bradbury (2008) states that most online stores in the UK do not implement strong security measures when handling customer details. It is therefore possible for a hacker to obtain private customer information from the online store.
Hackers can steal customer account details and use them to commit crimes such as identity theft. I suspect that some of the information I have provided at an online store was accessed by a third party illegally since I have been receiving unsolicited mail using the email address that I provided at the website.
Finally, online shopping can compromise the integrity of the customer’s personal computer. Surfing the internet is a hazardous experience since one is likely to encounter viruses that will harm the computer. Online shopping requires the user to visit new websites that offer the desired online goods. Bradbury (2008) warns that online shopping can expose the consumer to malicious scripts and viruses.
Most online store owners are not concerned with security. They are online interested in selling their products to the customers. Some therefore end up infecting customers’ machines without knowing. When a computer is infected, its performance may become degraded. In addition to this, it is easy to steal information from infected machines. Bradbury (2008) reveals that some hackers insert malicious scripts that steal customer passwords.
This paper set out to discuss the merits and drawbacks of online shopping. It began by noting that online shopping is gaining popularity as more people make use of computers and the internet. The merits associated with online shopping were then discussed. The paper revealed that online shopping is convenient, offers greater variety, and enables the customer to get the best price for the products.
However, the paper also acknowledged that there are some significant disadvantages of online shopping. They include the risk of credit card theft, theft of personal information, and infection of the customers’ computer. From the discussions offered in this paper, it is evident that most of the drawbacks associated with online shopping arise from security concerns. It can therefore be claimed that if the security concerns are effectively addressed, online shopping will a safe and convenient method of buying items for the consumer.
Bradbury, D 2008, Is online shopping ever secure? Web.
WebWise Team 2012, What is online shopping? Web.