Ep 44 of 2010
November 1, 2010
Are you one of the millions of people around the world that has embraced online shopping or are you still concerned about giving your personal details over the internet? Shopping online has certainly matured and become very safe in recent years, but common sense must still prevail.
Most large global stores have made the move into the online world as it opens up markets which would otherwise not normally be available. Another benefit of the online shop is the lower overheads as organizations don't have to rent expensive retail space, and nor do they have to pay staff wages to keep those retail spaces open. Online stores do open up new possibilities for consumers and retailers alike, but there still remain a few obstacles that need to be overcome.
Customer service and secure payments are still the biggest resistive forces that make some consumers shy away from purchasing online. Using credit cards online is still an issue for some. There are two solutions to this if your still nervous about this, firstly, you can use a debit credit card which most banks offer these days and only put as much as you need on the card before you shop, and secondly, use a money bureau such as PayPal to pay for goods and services online. Once you give your credit card or bank details to PayPal, you'll never need to enter card numbers online again unless the store your buying from does not accept PayPal, which is becoming less and less of a problem.
Having overcome your payment fears, it's time to start reaping the benefits of shopping online. Most retailers pride themselves in the speedy delivery of purchases. Delivery methods are what set good stores apart from not so good stores. Most local stores deliver next day via the postal service or a courier company. If there is a small additional cost for delivery, it's certainly worth it when you offset it against time, petrol, and parking fees you'd normally pay if you had to shop personally, not to forget the hassle of Christmas crowds.
Online shopping also lets you compare prices easily between shops. 3rd party sites such as Shopbot do not actually sell stuff, but instead the robots scour the web looking for the best prices amongst online retailers and then present a list of cheapest to dearest. It's a great way to find out the real value of goods as well as offering up vendors which you may not have thought of.
In the store world, consumers have the opportunity to haggle with shop staff in an effort to get the best price. In fact most retailers expect this so they mark items with Recommended Retail Prices and wait for the consumer to haggle. In this world, to compare prices, you have to make your way to another store, which is costly from a fuel and parking point of view and as well, it takes time. In the online shop, this doesn't happen as the competitors store is only a click away and retailers know this, so in most cases, the best price is already online.
There's nothing like a real world example to demonstrate the savings that can be made shopping online. Take Rivers for example. Rivers is an Australian clothing company, which as stores Australia wide as well as an online store which sells to the world. Having selected a pair of shoes to buy, a retail store in Melbourne had the price tag of $89. The same pair of shoes online was $49 - a saving of just under $50. So with that newly found $50, I purchased some additional clothing with similar discounts. As my order was over $100 there was no delivery fee. A successful shop online experience which took me 15 minutes from the comfort of the dining room table, as opposed to the hour and 15 minute waste of time should I chose to drive to a shop in the pouring rain.
On the other hand, I recently bought a piece of equipment from Sony which was listed in the Sony Australia online store for $899. On the weekend I chose to make the purchase, another retailer – JB Hifi, which also sold the same piece of gear from Sony, had a 20% off weekend, so I headed to that store to haggle, because that's what they do. At my local shopping centre JB Hifi and Sony a physically next door to each other, and I ended up getting a better price from the Sony store than JB – my $899 RRP device magically became $710 – the result of real world haggling which could not be achieved online.
So in the world of consumerism, shopping online does not replace the local shopping centre, the real world and the virtual world are not mutually exclusive, in fact it proves that shopping online is an alternative which is really just another string in the consumers bow and only reinforces that fact that shopping around is still the best way to get the best price.
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