Have you ever been torn between buying something online or purchasing it from a store? This is a dilemma that almost everyone in India faces now. However, with smartphone ownership on the upswing and Internet penetration rising exponentially, online shopping is definitely gaining ground.
Inexpensive smartphones and affordable mobile Internet connections make life easier and allow us to order stuff online. However, these are not the only reasons why online shopping is better than offline shopping. There are several intrinsic advantages of online shopping over offline purchases.
Therefore, here’re some strong reasons why online shopping is better than offline shopping.
Online Shopping v/s Offline Shopping
A major advantage that offline shopping provides is getting a first-hand view and touch of the stuff you wish to buy. And sometimes, brick-and-mortar stores come up with amazing promotions. So, let’s look at reasons why online shopping is better than offline shopping.
Online Shopping Offers Wider Choice of Products
Variety and range of products available online aren’t simply available from even the largest store or say a hundred malls in India. For example, Amazon lists and sells over 15 million products while its closest competitor, Flipkart has about 10 million. This merchandise includes everything from toothpaste to the most sophisticated and advanced computer or smartphone. Amazon India now also offers online air ticket bookings.
Hence, you find it a lot easier to search for different products and select the right one that suits your budget. Doing the same from offline stores would involve tremendous waste of money, time and effort by way of commuting between different stores. Also salespersons at brick-and-mortal stores often frown upon customers who ask to see different products. All these hassles are avoidable when you shop online.
Attractive Discounts on Everything
Generally and as a rule, online shopping sites sell everything at discounts ranging between three percent and sometimes as high as 80 percent, depending upon what you buy. This occurs because online stores also serve as channels for smaller businesses to sell their wares. If any store has surplus of a particular product, they will usually sell it at very high discounts. Ordinarily too, online shopping sites offer discounts to make purchasing more attractive.
Offline stores cannot offer heavy discounts because of various reasons. Firstly, they’ve to spend heavily on overheads such as staff, store rent, utilities and other infrastructure such as warehousing. Brick-and-mortal stores also have to pay for various licenses that are necessary for them to operate from a specific location. And the only way they can defray operational costs is by not offering heavy discounts. Physical stores also give rebates but usually these wouldn’t exceed five to 10 percent. And in some stores you can’t bargain. These stores will usually adhere to the Maximum Retail Price or MRP printed on a package. They’ll give lower prices only during a sale they conduct twice or thrice a year and usually during festivals or buying seasons.
Online Shopping Offers Easy Returns Policy
Brick-and-mortar stores don’t have a returns policy at all. Hence, you’re stuck with whatever stuff you buy, regardless whether you like it or not. On the other hand, online stores have very well defined returns policies, except for a few products like undergarments and lingerie. Therefore, you can return a product within a week to 10 days, if you find any defects or aren’t satisfied. However, there are certain strict rules regarding returns: the product has to be intact and in the condition it was delivered.
At best, physical stores will allow you to return the stuff and give a replacement worth the same price. They’ll never refund cash, unless it’s some very exceptional case. Online stores will readily refund your money. For example, Amazon will credit the value of your purchase on Amazon Pay. Means, you can order something else immediately while the refund is under process or await for the money to be credited before buying something else. Usually, online stores don’t charge anything for refunds.
Product Comparisons becomes easier with Online Shopping
Online stores usually have a facility that allows you to compare products of different brands that come at somewhat similar prices. Hence, you can instantly view pros and cons of something you wish to buy. This enables you to make informed choices and get a product with features that suit your needs better. Offline stores have no such facilities. In rare instances, you’ll find some salesperson telling you the difference between two products or maximum, three products. Online stores allow comparison of up to five to six similar products.
Product comparisons are particularly useful when you’re buying consumer durable such as electronics, home appliances, smartphones and computers. Thus, comparison of products enables getting best value for your money. And of course, the facility to return the stuff within a few days, if you aren’t satisfied with its performance or find that the online seller made tall claims- which they usually don’t. You can compare anything from grocery items to high-end mobiles on an online shopping website to make a final decision.
Easier Credit Facilities comes integral with online shopping
Every online store offers the facility to buy expensive stuff on credit. To avail this service from online stores, you’ll only need a credit card or debit card whose issuer bank has a tie-up with the online store. Online stores never ask you to submit documents such as cancelled cheque, bank account statements, Permanent Account Number (PAN) and proof of address to give you credit.
In comparison, offline stores ask you for various documents and sell the product only upon approval of a financial organization that is indirectly offering the stuff on credit. Offline stores and financial organizations that allow you to pay on installment basis will run a credit score check before approving the sale. Means, you’ll have to provide lots of documents. And interest on buying on Equated Monthly Installments or EMI from offline stores generally attracts higher interest.
Reviews by genuine customers that are using a specific product help you to decide whether or not to buy. These reviews appear below the stuff you wish to buy. Customers rate a product by stars- with five stars standing for excellent and a single star meaning very poor quality. Also, online shopping is more preferable because you can save money with discounts & it can be done from comfort of your home or in hurry while traveling. Cash on Delivery or COD facility for online purchases gives you time to get the money ready to pay for your stuff. At offline stores, you have to pay cash immediately. Nowadays, online stores also offer different modes of payment such as Unified Payment Interface (UPI), online wallets and others. These few reasons prove why online shopping is better than offline shopping.