You probably know someone who raves about the advantages, but you still see the disadvantages of shopping online? Are you willing to weigh them objectively? Then, here's how to transform the disadvantages of shopping online into great advantages of shopping online.
Let's spill out all the disadvantages you can think of for shopping online;
1. You can't visit with a friend while you "browse" through a mall, and stop for coffee, etc.
2. You can't finger and handle products, or try them on as you decide whether to buy them.
3. The online site may not tell you a product is back-ordered until you are through cart process.
4. You don't always feel safe shopping at a website from strangers you can't see.
5. It's crazy how some sites sock you with high shipping fees - they don't usually warn you!
6. When you order a free item, the shipping fees are often jacked up so they still make money from it.
7. Returns and exchanges take extra time and can be a huge hassle.
8. Some site charge those restocking fees - Grrr!! Isn't that their expense?
Is that all?
Do you want to see how those disadvantages of shopping online can be turning into advantages?
1. If shopping with someone else is a valued social or friendship activity, you can do that too, with online shopping. Invite a friend over to your place, or some other comfortable place where you can both see your computer or laptop screen and you can talk and chat and even eat and drink your refreshments the whole time. With a wireless laptop you can even meet in a coffee shop - or a comfortable park bench, or at a picnic table, and you can shop together to your heart's content.
If it appears to be a matter of combining any true shopping with the friends-doing-something together time that you love. A mall, big department store, or unique street of shops is not the only place to do that.
(Of course, if you miss the walking exercise you can still do that in the malls too! Online shopping is not trying to keep people out of the physical stores and malls.) I'm just saying that the feature you find important is transferrable to the online world; ergo - no longer a serious disadvantage to shopping online.
2. Trying on clothes and touching or handling items is one valid way of sensing if a product is right for you. But we have five senses, don't we? The best online shops are aware of this, and try to compensate for the sense of touch, by offering vivid photos of their products for the eye, sometimes videos to allow us to sample the item with our ears and eyes. Then they provide all the details that might be on the package in a font size that you can read. This allows your mind to reason, making up for the senses of taste and feel. Most online store have a generous returns policy too.
If you find a great deal online, but you want to feel or try on first, go to your comparable local shop to do that, then go home and complete your deal online if it wins out. (Unfortunately, so many folks are doing that; some local stores are shutting down for lack of sales).
3. True. High shipping fees do happen sometimes. (I don't know, is it as often as you find stores that offer free shipping?) Nevertheless, you can take the shock factor out, but making a point of checking each site over (before you go to checkout) for their Policy statement and for some information about their shipping fees. If they don't show any, and you think you might want to shop there because of a unique item, - take time to look for their contact form and send them a note, asking for the shipping fees in advance. Point out that you could not find this on their site; it may trigger them to put it there.
4. You will feel safer shopping on a secure store site, if you make a habit of looking for the little padlock icon to indicate it is a secure site. Beyond that, check the About Us page to learn more about who is behind it. (I always give them extra marks if they have photos of the owners and the people behind the site).
If you don't feel safe or still are uneasy, keep looking for another site. There are plenty to choose from! Ask friends for the URLs of sites they trust, and learn to research the store sites and find out what others say about them on the forums.
Another way to turn this disadvantage of shopping online to an advantage is to join a shopping portal where they have fully screened the online shops to make sure they are safe, and if they discover one going bad, they remove it. (eg. BigCrumbs.com and Ebates)
If you are brave enough, and have the time, you would do yourself and many others a great big favour if you found the contact form on such a site, (one that makes you uneasy) and drop the owners a note, saying that you wish they would have more security signs - and you can suggest some - to convince potential customers that they are safe to buy from.
By the way, do you ever ask staff in a physicla, local store to confirm they are a secure place to shop? :)
5. Too high shipping fees? If you were the seller, would you want to lose money on shipping? Would you not set up a generic plan that would cover your costs no matter where you shipped? Right. So some of those high fees are in order as a cost of business.
But knowledge is your best weapon for fighting back on this disadvantage of shopping online. Do research to find out what the actual shipping costs would be of the items you want to purchase. Work through several options because they may not have access to all the ones you can think of from your end. Again, contact the owners with a polite and creatively presented alternative plan that is to your advantage with lower shipping costs, but that does not run them short.
They may slam a virtual door in your face, but then, at the next site, you just may open their eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Your effort will benefit not only you, but many other shoppers coming after you!
6. If you can prove someone is overcharging for shipping to make income on it, you may again become a hero or heroine by pointing that out. (Incidentally, physical bricks and mortar stores do the same thing). Just remember, if you lose your temper they will treat you like a nut-case. Keep your mind cool and your presentation warm and friendly.
7. Returns and exchanges make for delays as you send back some items and wait for the right ones to come, but then when you return things to a nearby store or mall, you have to give up some time, some wear and tear on your car or public transit and your body too. Shopping carefully in the first place can prevent a lot of this in either shopping location, online or offline.
What does often happen in an online situation is that the merchant realizes the difficulty a wrong order can be, and will substitute something of greater or better value and send it out at their cost. For a low-cost item they may not even require you to return the first or wrong item.
8. Restocking fees? Guess what, the local stores charge you that too. They just haven't got around to telling you that a lot of times.
We have to be careful how we bad-mouth merchants; one day we may be one!
Online shopping is NOT heaven, by any exaggeration. It's just that we've spent more years, depending on our age, learning to cope with the problems of shopping in local stores - offline. Now we need to learn to do that all over again - online.
Here's two examples of how I have researched online before buying oasis for flower arranging and RAM memory for my computer. There's also my saga about learning to shop for prescription eye glasses online. My detailed research and shopping journals may give you the clues you need to discover the advantages of shopping online.
Have you noticed that in all the above, it is the attitude that brings on a difference? When we have made up our minds not to like something, such as shopping online, it is astonishing how many things go wrong, and what a negative experience online shopping becomes for us and all connected closely to us. If we set aside our distaste for a new experience, and try to see it objectively and honestly try to work with it, we usually discover some great advantages, and develop new skills that benefit us all.
From a positive perspective and mind-set then, what are some real advantages of shopping online? I want to add that this assumes we have allowed time to learn to do our online shopping well, safely, and have taken on some good habits while doing so.
Come with me. Now I'll show you the advantages of shopping online!
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It is not that hard; you CAN shop securely online, and have fun saving too!