|Modern technology has made e-commerce an easy-to-use tool that has many benefits and relatively avoidable risks. Benefits from shopping online include convenience, speed, variety, bargains and easy access to more information.|
Convenience refers to the fact that Internet stores are always open for business with few exceptions and that purchases can be made without visting an actual store. People who were unable to reach stores during business hours used to have to order over the phone or mail the orders off through catalog order forms, often taking several days to be delivered and processed. Now, shoppers can place the order over the Internet at any time and receive instant confirmation via that their order has been placed. The few exceptions to this are food services that take orders online, in which the buyer is forced to place the order before the restaurant is due to close. For others, visiting actual stores may be near impossible due to the remoteness of their homes (as often portrayed in Yahoo! ads) or due to handicaps. For these customers, the convenience of being able to order at any time and receive packages relatively quickly is a great benefit that even catalogs and phone orders failed to achieve.
Speed is also a great benefit to shopping online. As discussed previously under convenience, orders are processed much faster when placed online than over the phone or through the mail in many cases. New technology allows the order placed to be given directly to another computer that accounts for all of the orders. The computer then makes necessary shipping arrangements with the suppliers and consumers so that merchandise is in perpetual motion through their warehouses.
E-Commerce offers a great variety of merchandise for shoppers as well. By shopping over the Internet, consumers are no longer limited by their surrounding stores. They can expand to the farthest reaches of the world wide web. Diversity in sizes, colors and styles also exist online that can not exist in physical stores due to size constraints. Customers have a much larger variety to shop from on the net than in any other market to date.
Bargains are another benefit for online consumers. Since there are a large number of merchants online, the laws of economics force prices down. Competition and variety give shoppers many opportunities to save money over the Internet. In most cases, products bought online will be cheaper (before shipping) than if bought in a store.
For the conscious consumer, the Internet offers a plethora of information that would be time-consuming and perhaps even expensive to gather on their own. Sites, such as the Better Business Bureau one to the left, provide useful information on products from cars to vacuum cleamers. The Internet is a fountain of knowledge for consumers who want the absolute best product at the most fair price.