What Are the Benefits of Online Shopping?

Many Americans routinely purchase items online. According to statistics published by the PEW Research Center, nearly 10 percent of retail purchases are made online, and 15 percent of shoppers perform online shopping each week.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of online shopping is its convenience. Consumers can shop from anywhere and at any time of the day or night. There's no need spend time travelling to retail stores and searching for the right product because it can be done from the convenience of their own homes. This is especially useful if the items they are looking for are unusual, expensive or hard to find. With online shopping, buyers have a better chance of quickly finding exactly what they want and at the right price.

Buyers Get the Best Prices
Because online retailers don't carry much stock and have huge buying power, their prices are competitive. In most instances, online shopping prices are lower than at local retailers and discount stores. Added to that is the ease with which consumers can compare prices as well as select exactly what they want right down to color and specification.

A big drawback of shopping in a retail store is the difficulty comparing goods stocked by different stores. In fact, it's so much effort that many times consumers simply buy what's available rather than what they really want. This is not the case with online shopping. If an individual is shopping for an appliance such as a TV, it's easy to compare individual specifications, sizes and prices from several online retailers, all at the same time. And if they need to have a hands-on look at a similar TV, there's no harm in going to the nearest retail stockist to get a feel for the model they're interested in.

No-Hassle Delivery
Once the order is placed, all the buyer has to do is sit back and wait until the purchases are delivered right to their front door. Depending on who it was bought from and the type of delivery selected, goods may be delivered on the same day, or at the very latest, within the next few days. This is a great help if the product purchased, such as a TV or other large appliance, is too bulky to fit into a car.

A factor holding many back is the fear their credit card details may be compromised. This is unlikely if shopping is restricted to secure online retailers who use Secure Socket Encryption (SSL), shown by an image of a closed padlock in the address bar. Also, it's unwise to shop over public Wi-Fi because transactions can be hacked. Ensure computers, tablets and phones have antivirus protection and that credit cards have online fraud protection. In most instances, online fraud protection ensures reimbursement to victims of online fraud.

There are limitations to online shopping. For example, it's impossible to try on clothing or examine items before buying. Online retailers understand this, and many have generous returns policies. Some even allow consumers to take items back to their nearest retail store. Nevertheless, returning an item to an online retailer is more daunting than to a local retail store.

The best way to learn more about online shopping is to try it out. Once consumers have made their first purchase, it's very likely they will join the 83 percent of buyers who are very satisfied with their online shopping experiences.