How to Use Online Shopping to your Advantage
It has taken a while, but many South Africans now prefer to shop online due to the many benefits it offers, but what are the advantages and disadvantages on shopping online?
With close to 19 million users in South Africa alone, online shopping has become the favoured way to do shopping for specific goods and items. Why are so many consumers taking this step? Mostly for the convenience and ability to easily find what you are looking for without having to drive from store to store.
The amount of consumers taking to online shopping has also increased drastically with our improved internet connectivity via cellphone, tablet and laptop. It is far more convenient to relax and browse through items than to trek to the shopping centre, find parking and wade through other shoppers, especially at this time of year when everyone seems to leave their shopping to the last minute.
Another factor that has had a big impact on online shopping is the lockdown due to the Coronavirus. During the lockdown, consumers couldn't visit their local shopping destinations and instead took to the internet to get their monthly fix. Even though deliveries were not allowed until we reached a certain lockdown level, orders were pouring in to online suppliers and waiting to be shipped on when the restrictions were eased. Add to that the fact that consumers are now more comfortable in using online shopping sites, suppliers are taking cognizance of this by increasing their promotion via specials only available online to attract even more consumers.
As the demand for online shopping increases so does the ability to ship orders faster via courier services, and this market is also seeing substantial growth as a result of the lockdown at the beginning of this year.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of online shopping and how can you use this to your advantage?
1. Keep updated on specials
As you connect with various online shopping sites, you will also discover the frequency of their specials. I have several online shopping sites that I use on a regular basis but ones that I love to hear from is cielo.co.za, avon.co.za and tools4wood.co.za. As an online shopper, I automatically receive notifications on their special offers and sale items. Considering how much I have saved by buying during specials, I will continue to subscribe for instant updates on what's happening and when.
2. Find items easily
I'm not a shopper who likes to trek from shopping centres and store to store. If I need or want something, the easiest way to find it is online. A quick Google search will normally point me in the right direction and from there it's a matter of whittling down until I find the right source.
3. Save money on expensive goods
Over the years, I have come to realise that online shopping allows you to bargain for better prices. It's sort of like going to a bazaar or market and haggling with various store owners until you get the best possible price. You can do the same when online shopping, simply by not settling on one supplier. A good example of this is when I am looking for new power tools. I might start out at one online supplier, but then I move on to others to see who is offering the best price for the same item. I have saved myself a lot of money by doing this. Yes, customer loyalty is important, but not if it costs you more when you could buy it for less somewhere else.
4. Quicker delivery for items in stock
When shopping online in search of specific items, make sure that the items you are looking for are in stock. You can also tie this in with the point above by looking around not only for the best price but also who has the item in stock and the fastest delivery method. Many of the online suppliers I have purchased from have dropped their delivery charges, or, in some instances, they offer free delivery for purchases over a certain amount. Take all these factors into consideration to get the best price and the fastest delivery, preferably free of charge.
What are the disadvantages of online shopping?
1. Choose your online supplier carefully
As with any purchase you make, it is vital that you only buy from a reputable or well-respected online store. There are plenty of fly-by-night suppliers out there, ones who will quite easily take your money for nothing. Go by word of month, check online reviews, search for details that might indicate the supplier is shady, and only use online suppliers who are based in South Africa, unless is it a large well-known international organisation such as Amazon, for example.
2. Cheap is cheap - no matter if it's a bargain
I have recently come across some really shady suppliers that pop up during my searches. These guys usually advertise at ridiculously low prices and this inevitably means that you get what you pay for at the end of the day. Cheap is cheap and what you receive might not look even remotely like what you ordered, but there's bound to be some 'fine print' somewhere that means you can do nothing about it.
3. Pay more for shipping than the items you bought
There are other online shopping sites that advertise goods at amazing prices but fail to mention shipping costs. These guys are not located in South Africa, but most in China and similar countries, and hit you hard with shipping costs to bring the item into the country. So be sure to check these out before you waste your money and don't receive anything in return.
4. Be pestered forever with calls and notifications
I don't mind being subscribed to a list for the occasional email. I don't however, like to receive one or two calls a day - every single day, be swamped by 3rd parties offering me insurance and such, and that is exactly what happened when I ordered goods from HomeChoice. From the day I ordered I have been harassed on a daily basis, despite begging and pleading to be removed from their list. Now I just hang up.
Suppliers should ask your permission to receive marketing literature and be upfront about how often you will receive these. If they don't refrain from signing up.