The Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying Online

Aug 15, 2005

The Bottom Line Purchasing online can have its ups and downs, and the key is to do what makes you the most comfortable

With the ushering in of the 21st century, many people have found that it is simply easier to purchase items online, than worry about physically walking into a store, and dealing with people first-hand. As it is, there are many advantages and disadvantages to this approach, and it really depends on the person as to which one will win out in the end. The most important choice that a consumer has to make, is whether they are comfortable with purchasing something over the Internet, or if it is just easier on the mind to be there buying it. For someone like myself, there are many different roads that I can choose to take depending on what type of product or service that it is I am contemplating purchasing. Some things are easy to order over the Internet, some services are easier to pay for online, but then there are those things that you would never even consider purchasing online, and you feel that you would have to be in the store to do the buying. Whichever way that you decide to go, just know that your solution is not wrong, but there could be an easier way for you to get a product online that you have not experimented with yet.

The biggest advantage to buying items online, is that you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. Instead of planning out time in your daily schedule to go out and make a purchase, you can instead go to the web-site when you have a free moment at work or at home late at night, and look up the product that you are considering to purchase. You will most likely be able to see all of the product specifications, and on most sites, you can now see comments posted by the past buyers themselves. Web-site purchasing has developed to the point that a sites main intent has now become to make a customer happy with their decision, and to help them make the purchase quickly. That way the customer will want to return to the site in the near future and continue to make purchases. So, a customer can use that to their advantage and only do business with sites that will help put their transactions through quickly and thoroughly. One thing that I mentioned was the ability to look at products late at night. When stores have closed their doors for the night, the web-site still remains available to you to make your purchase. This means that even after a long day at work, and coming home to deal with the family, you still have time left to go online and look for the product you want to purchase. The Internet is there 24/7, and is always willing to wait for you to come make a purchase.

Another thing about purchasing online that can serve as an advantage is selection. When you walk into a store, you only see what the store has in inventory at that very moment. When you are ordering something online, you are working with their entire warehouse of products, and this means that you have way more choices to work with. Buy not having to worry about your physical store having something on the shelves; it saves you the time of wasting a trip down there, only to be told that you will have to return the following day. Some people find it better to not have to deal with the sales-floor people at the general stores. By going online, you don't have to worry about being hassled, and when you decide that it is time to check out, you don't have to waste the extra time standing in line. For me this is a huge bonus, because no matter where I go, I always end up with a slow checker, or behind someone that has yet to decide exactly how they are going to pay for their purchases. By buying online, you can also take advantage of deals that are only offered to online customers, and you can often find bundled products that wouldn't be available at a walk-in store. Being able to pay with a credit card gets filed under the advantages as well, because you don't have to worry about making sure that the store takes more than just cash in person.

Some of the advantages that people have with online stores can double as disadvantages depending on how you look at things. By using a credit card online, you could be over-extending yourself, and incurring costs that you don't know how you will pay for right away. Also, by having the stores open 24/7 to you, you are more likely to buy more, thus spending more money than if you were at a store in person. Using "virtual" funds, it does not seem like you are spending quite as much as when you have to hand the cashier money, or sign the credit card receipt. Another disadvantage, is that lots of web-sites have you pay shipping and handling charges depending on the product that you order. This can lead it to become more expensive than you had originally thought, and people aren't always looking at the bottom line when they hit the "submit purchase" button on any of the sites. The shipping can raise another concern, because you can never be 100% sure that you will receive what you ordered in a timely fashion, or at all. You are gambling that you will be able to get everything that you ordered, and that the product will get to you undamaged.

By purchasing on the Internet, you also run the risk of having your information taken by online companies and misused. Though this is a very rare occurrence, it is more likely to happen online, than in person. It all comes down to being able to trust the site that you are doing business with. To be sure, there are many advantages and disadvantages to doing business online, and it all comes down to a particular consumers view on things as to whether it will be one or the other. While some people don't like to be hassled in the store, others like to get the assistance, and while some people like to browse at a store, others just like to purchase one specific thing and be done. The key is to know what you would be comfortable doing online, and sticking to sites that you are willing to put your trust in. Reading the fine print on anything you agree to online is great advice, and trying out new sites is always a fun experience. Just make wise choices, enjoy your time on the Net, and be assured that millions of people are making purchases online everyday, so it is a safe way to go.

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