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What Is Online Shopping?

By K T Solis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Online shopping is the process of buying goods and services from merchants over the Internet. Since the emergence of the World Wide Web, merchants have sought to sell their products to people who spend time online. Shoppers can visit web stores from the comfort of their homes and shop as they sit in front of the computer.

Consumers can buy a huge variety of items from online stores, and just about anything can be purchased from companies that provide their products online. Books, clothing, household appliances, toys, hardware, software, and health insurance are just some of the hundreds of products consumers can buy from an online store.

Many people choose to shop online because of the convenience. For example, when a person shops at a brick-and-mortar store, she has to drive to the store, find a parking place, and walk throughout the store until she locates the products she needs. After finding the items she wants to purchase, she may often need to stand in long lines at the cash register.

In contrast, online shopping helps consumers avoid these disadvantages. A person only has to log onto the Internet, visit the store's website, and choose the items she desires. The items are held in a virtual shopping cart until she is ready to make her purchase. The shopper can remain in her pajamas as she does her shopping, and the process can be conducted in the wee hours of the morning or late into the night. Online stores almost never close.

Some people find using coupons easier when they shop online. You can use browser extensions like the Capital One Shopping app to research applicable coupons or sales. When you shop online, you can easily compare prices across multiple retailers and collect more coupon codes than you would if you shopped in person. Furthermore, when you shop online, you can take advantage of online shopping incentives, such as discounts becoming available if you keep a product in your virtual shopping cart for a long time.

Despite the convenience, not everyone chooses to purchase items and services online. Some people like the idea of physically going to a store and experiencing the shopping process. They like to touch the merchandise, try on clothing, and be around other people. Online shopping doesn't permit shoppers to touch products or have any social interaction, and it also doesn't allow them to take the merchandise home the same day they buy it.

Other people may worry about shopping online because they fear their credit card information will be compromised. Since it's necessary to provide credit card information when purchasing products online, it is possible for individuals to become victims of identity theft. Using secure servers can help, but it's no guarantee that credit information will remain private.

Another reason some consumers avoid shopping online is the fact that they worry that the products they purchase are not accurately portrayed in the website's picture or that they will be of lesser quality. It's also impossible to try on apparel bought over the Internet, so a consumer has to rely on body measurements in order to make sure the clothing will fit properly. If the clothing arrives in the mail and it's too small, it must be mailed back, which is a potential inconvenience that some shoppers may not wish to face.

Online shopping has revolutionized the way consumers purchase goods, offering convenience, variety, and often, cost savings. It's important to remember, however, that savvy shopping involves more than just clicking 'add to cart'. Tools like Capital One Shopping can help you compare prices, find deals, and make informed decisions. As the digital marketplace continues to evolve, understanding and utilizing such resources can ensure you get the most out of your online shopping experience.

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Discussion Comments

By robtownley — On Dec 05, 2012

I personally much prefer shopping online as you don't have to wait in queues or fight over clothes like you do in primark. You can also make use of price comparison websites to help get cheaper prices.

By elizabeth123 — On Jan 19, 2012

A well informed write up on online shopping. Many people are afraid to shop online in India as they feel it’s not safe and you might lose your money. In the initial stage I was also a little fidgety to use the online mode but after the recommendations from my friends, I enjoy online shopping now.

By Moldova — On Oct 20, 2010

BrickBack-I heard about the Publix Direct service, it is more like curbside pick up. The way it works is that you offer Publix your shopping list and tell them what you want to buy and I think you can renew the list on a weekly basis.

Instead of home delivery like they used to do, they now offer curbside delivery which means that you still have to drive to the store, but you won’t have to park or go in the store.

What I love about online shopping is the research that I can do. When I was looking for a condo on the beach, I looked at various markets by going on Trulia and Zillow.

Both of these sites are excellent for looking for real estate properties and general questions regarding the areas that you are interested in.

Zillow will give you a great ball park appraisal of the property you intend to buy, or any property for that matter. It also contains a forum for buyers and sellers.

By BrickBack — On Oct 20, 2010

Icecream17-There are sites like Publix Direct and Tesco online shopping that provide direct delivery of grocery purchases made online.

This is ideal for people that are homebound, or live in a large apartment building, like say in New York City where it would be more convenient to have the groceries delivered because many people that live in New York City do not have a car because of the excellent public transportation available.

It is much easier to schedule a delivery and have somebody else worry about lugging the groceries around. Tesco is really more of a superstore and in addition to groceries; they also sell furniture, toys and technology products.

The thing to keep in mind when shopping online is that the site is secure. You will know this when you see an S after the http. This means that the site is secure.

What I like to do around the holidays is look at the site called Black Friday. It offers Black Friday deals for the day after Thanksgiving from major stores ahead of time.

By icecream17 — On Oct 20, 2010

Comfyshoes- I agree. I always check Edmunds before I buy a car. The site also gives you the safety rating of the car along with the consumer rating. You can even view the feedback that was left from consumers that have purchased the car.

I really love to go to online shopping websites and browse around when I am looking for Christmas Holiday purchases.

I look at fashion online shopping websites like Zara online shopping and mens online shopping websites. One of my favorites is Zappos. Zappos is a large online shopping women’s site that offers women’s, children, and men’s shoes.

The great thing about this site is if you are looking for a shoe that is out of stock, the company will direct you to a competitor site in order for you to find the shoes. The company cares so much about its customers that it will actually send you to a competitor to find what you want.

They believe that if you are happy with their service you will return to them, so they are not worried about their customers buying from an online shopping website of their competitors.

By comfyshoes — On Oct 20, 2010

Anon82500- I have the same problem.

I wanted to add that online shopping websites offer the convenience of shopping from home and comparing prices.

Online shops allow you the opportunity to hunt down the best prices for the merchandise that you intend to buy. This is especially important when buying a big ticket item such as a car.

If you are shopping for a car, for example, you should take a look at the site called Edmunds. It gives you the complete price of a vehicle and even offers you some information on the dealer charges.

The price of the vehicle on the site is closer to what the car is really worth, but it is substantially lower than what you will find in the dealership.

But it does give you some information that you can use in your negotiation. If you bring a print out of the car you intend to buy to the dealership, they will almost certainly give you a better price.

By anon82500 — On May 06, 2010

This is very descriptive, informative and concise text about online shopping. I have habit to buy things online. Maybe, I have not enough time to go to some market or I'm simply lazy.

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