The Internet has changed our lives in many ways. We can form relationships with random people on social networking sites, play online games, and shop in virtual stores. Some experts argue that the future of retail is online, whereas others disagree. In this article, we are going to discuss whether online marketplaces like Amazon are changing the way we shop.
The Rise of Amazon
You can’t look at the rise of online shopping without devoting some time to everyone’s favorite store: Amazon. Jeff Bezos may have been in the headlines recently for rather different reasons, but nobody can deny he has built the most successful store in the history or retail.
Amazon has risen from a lowly bookstore to a business that encompasses numerous smaller businesses, including cloud computing, payments, entertainment, and physical stores. It sells close to 500 million different products worldwide, and Amazon’s inventory is growing daily. The company is so big that it handles 44% of all sales in the United States, but its reach is nowhere near as dominant in the Far East.
For Asian shoppers, Ali Baba is the online store of choice. Like Amazon, it sells a huge range of products, and in terms of market cap, it’s on the verge of catching up to the mighty Amazon. So, why do people love to shop online?
Why We Love Online Shopping
Online shopping has a number of key benefits, but the main one is the sheer convenience of click and buy. It’s incredibly easy to sit at home and browse goods in an online store. You can find anything you want or need with a few clicks of the mouse. If you can’t find what you are looking for in one store, you can search for another.
Thanks to the power of search engines like Google, millions of products are within reach. Need a bottle of extra virgin olive oil from your favorite vineyard in Italy? No problem, you can go online and buy it from the vineyard’s virtual store.
Online shopping puts products that were once unavailable to the masses within reach. Someone living in a rural area in the heart of the Midwest can shop for Indian spices and French wine online, all from authentic sellers located in the country of origin.
You can also compare prices without leaving the couch. Whereas shopping at the mall means investing a good portion of your day just walking from store to store trying to remember what each item cost, now can do the same thing within minutes without leaving the comfort of your home.
Online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay wield huge power. Customers love to shop on eBay and Amazon because they offer a one-stop-shopping experience. We may be in love with online shopping, but we are still basically lazy—if we can find what we need in one store, most of us don’t bother looking elsewhere.
However, online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay don’t tick all of the boxes. They offer a huge selection of goods, but if you need something niche, it is often worth looking for a specialized online retailer.
The Benefits of Shopping with an Independent Online Retailer
A good example of this is when you need to buy a custom-made product. For example, if you want to buy a specialized diploma frame, choosing a company such as Church Hill Classics over Amazon will give you a more satisfying experience. You can buy the exact size frame you need, rather than something that doesn’t fit properly, and if you have any questions, you can contact the seller and find out what you need to know.
Amazon has a lot of benefits, but it lacks the personal touch. Instead of talking to a seller who knows their products inside and out, you have to communicate with a chat-bot typing from a script. And when things go wrong, huge marketplaces like Amazon and eBay don’t always want to know. After all, they already have your money, so why would they bother to try and put things right? One poor customer experience isn’t going to dent their ratings, whereas an independent online seller relies on positive reviews and customer testimonials, so it is in their interest to work with you to sort things out.
The Perils of Shopping Online
As much as shopping online is convenient and fun, it doesn’t come without a few drawbacks. Credit card fraud has exploded in recent years and once you use your credit or debit card to pay for goods online, you are vulnerable. Be very careful when shopping online. Check that the site you are using is a legitimate one and has appropriate security settings—a padlock symbol in the address bar is a good start.
There will always be a place for traditional shopping centers, but online shopping is here to stay and unless traditional retailers adapt, they won’t survive.