The disadvantages of online shopping

What are the top disadvantages of online shopping?

The South African consumer has a real strong mall culture but with the increase in the access to the internet the e-commerce market is growing at a rapid pace. For many of us, the whole process of going to the shops and absorbing the ambience is part of the experience; this is what we miss with online shopping.  

Previously we had a look at the steps you can take to protect yourself with online shopping as well as the benefits thereof.  As convenient as online shopping is there are also a few disadvantages to it.

  • Personal touch

For the majority of us, the possibility to touch, feel and see something for yourself has a key influence on your decision making on whether to buy the product or not.  This experience is not possible with online shopping and especially with personal items like clothes for example. We are all built differently, and unless you know the particular brand and style sizes, it is like a lottery whether the item will fit and look as gorgeous as the picture.  We are all influenced by textures, and unfortunately, that feeling and even emotion connected to it is entirely missing with online shopping.  The personal touch does not significantly impact the decision when shopping for appliances and household goods.

  • Diminish instant satisfaction

Following close on to the loss of personal touch and feel is the diminishing of your immediate satisfaction. You’ve spent the time and effort in doing the necessary planning and research, read the consumer reviews, did the necessary budget checks, made the purchase and now it’s the long wait to getting the product and experiencing that satisfaction and gratitude.  Sadly sometimes the excitement associated with the purchase is totally lost once the goods are received.

  • Outdated catalogues

Online retailers who solely exists online is brilliant with updating their catalogues.  They have good quality photos available, the possibility of seeing the product from various angles and even a close-up. They also have the necessary specifications or details listed. They add all new products instantly and remove those that are no longer available.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case with the older retailers who mainly concentrate on their shops and only see online shopping as a necessary evil.  They are always behind with updating their catalogues and in many cases have no photos or information available.

  • No immediate assistance

So you’ve done all the research but still, have some questions? With online shopping, you don’t always have that sales assistant available immediately. In most cases you either need to complete a Contact Us request or call the customer care centre – that is only available during office hours. Luckily most online retailers are catching on and are now offering the instant chat option, but they are only available during business hours.

  • Delivery

Yes, online shopping offers many savings, especially with regards to parking and fuel expenses but unfortunately, it also has a huge disadvantage – the delivery.  Certain online retailers do not offer free delivery, and you have no choice other than to use their preferred delivery supplier and pay the charges associated.  Individual retailers even restrict you to a minimum order quantity.

With the internet so readily available we don’t always realise the supplier is not home-grown.  You have an excellent shopping experience as all items are listed in your local currency, they offer free or very acceptable delivery charges, and you can pay securely with your credit card. However, they don’t always mention that import duties are applicable, they only list it in their fine print, and we, the consumer, don’t always pay attention to that. These costs can add a significant cost to your items.

In South Africa especially we do find that providing a delivery address can be problematic as delivery cannot be guaranteed within a particular time.  We don’t all have the luxury of someone being available at a specified address all the time, and this makes it difficult to accept delivery.  Do you provide your work address and hope they deliver within the hours you are there, and they find you amongst all your colleagues or do you supply your home address and hope for the best. It all of course also depends on what you ordered and can defeat the whole objective of convenience.

  • Refunds and returns

So in the unlikely case of your shopping not being as successful as you anticipated, you now need to return or exchange your item.  Regrettably, it is not as easy and fast as the shopping was and can undo any savings you made.  The bulk of the major online retailers offer a quick and hassle-free exchange option with either collecting your items or providing you with the opportunity to go and exchange it at any of their shops. Nonetheless, it does happen that you are bound by their rules and have to send it back at your cost or in worst case scenario don’t offer a return or exchange possibility at all.

Online shopping is here to stay and although disadvantages do exist it is up to the consumer to apply a logical mind and spend money wisely. If you’ve fallen trap to the ease of online shopping and find your debt increasing, please give Debt Rescue a call.

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