SINCE Amazon burst into the electronic commerce scene in 1995, shopping would never be the same again. Just browse, click, add to cart, and check out from the comfort of home, and in no time, your shopping would show up right at your doorstep. Today, there are so many other online providers: from Redmart to Lazada to Alibaba’s Taobao. Even major retailers offer shopping online, such as Uniqlo, Esprit, and Red Bubble.
What’s the big advantage of going online? Online shopping is so much more efficient than physical shopping. You don’t have to worry about human traffic. No queues at the checkout or fitting rooms, no incompetent and impolite sales staff—the kind, for instance, who would tell you, “It’s all here.” All you have to deal with in an online environment are drop-down menus, icons, and buttons.
On occasion, the online deals are more attractive than in-store deals. But that’s not all. Online shopping opens up the world to exclusive content, which can only be bought online and not in stores. When you see the words, “Online Exclusive” screaming at you, super-big on the home page, together with “Limited Offers” and “New Arrivals,” there’s a compelling reason to jump on the online bandwagon.
And once you’re on board, you can go mad shopping, but there’s a beautiful feature that stops you in your tracks and teaches you self-restraint and prudence. You could do the “save for later” and conveniently get back there when you feel richer and a little more indulgent. At a real store, chances are you’d just get it after all, given the effort and trouble to get there in the first place.
The vast choices in the cyber-shopping world exerts such an alluring pull to consumers because it makes the world smaller. Without the web, I would not have had the opportunity to get my hands on that pair of Nike shoes two years ago—a limited edition soccer shoes, only available in Brazil at that time.
Without the online platform, these retailers would not have been able to market and sell their products in such a creative and innovative way. It’s a dream come true not just for the seller, but the buyer, who literally doesn’t have to budge at all. He could well be shopping from his bed in his pajamas, and before long, the package would show up right at the doorstep.
With the benefits, however, come certain inconveniences. You can’t touch or feel the item, so your shopping experience is largely visceral, unless you are purchasing a product you’re already acquainted with.
Online prices have a way of deceiving you. They look attractively cheaper, but when the shipping costs get factored in, they can become quite pricey. Of course, given the time lag between the moment you click to purchase to the time of arrival, anything could happen to your package. It could be missing en route, late, or it could show up as the wrong product, or just flawed.
Once, I had a shipment problem that eventually worked in my favor. At the 30th day mark, a Macbook sleeve I bought from Red Bubble still hadn’t showed up, so I reported the problem on email. They promised, on the 35th day, they would re-ship and have it delivered within two weeks. The day after, the one that hadn’t showed up all this while, finally arrived. And you know the rest of the story: the second sleeve came along. I wasn’t going to ship it back at my own cost and trouble.
That seems like a good enough reason to go the online shopping route, but that’s more like a jackpot situation. Jackpot or no jackpot, online shopping is still the way to go. Just look at Amazon, its stock is outperforming those of traditional retail outlets. That’s a sure sign that consumers the world over are giving them the thumbs up way out into the future.
Chester Chua, Secondary Four
For more essays by Chester, visit Chester Writes.
This essay was written in response to the question:
Shopping online offers a broad variety of choices. What, in your opinion, are the advantages and disadvantages?