Common Problems with Online Shopping

Despite the many advantages of online shopping there are also problems which may occur with this type of shopping. These problems such as ordering the wrong item, receiving the wrong item and the need to return an item can often be significant enough to make a potential online shopper reconsider the decision to purchase an item online. Although these problems are some of the most common which occur in online shopping they do not necessarily happen frequently. However, when these problems do occur they can cause a great deal of stress and frustration for the online shopper. This article will discuss some of these common problems in an attempt to help the reader make a wise decision about whether or not to purchase an item online.

Ordering the Wrong Item

When shopping in traditional stores it is quite difficult to accidentally purchase the wrong item because the sales process typically involves the consumer physically carrying the item up to the sales counter to make the purchase. However, in online shopping where the consumer never physically handles the item before the purchase is complete and the item delivered it is certainly possible to purchase the wrong item. This can occur when the shopper uses the website to make the purchase and clicks on the wrong item or when the consumer contacts customer service to make the purchase and provides the wrong product number. Even if the consumer clicks on the correct product and provides an accurate product number he may still make a mistake in the ordering process if there are options such as size or color associated with the item. This problem can be rather troubling because the consumer will be disappointed when the incorrect item is received. 

Receiving the Wrong Item

Even when online shoppers do not make mistakes during the ordering process it is still possible for the consumer to receive the wrong item. This often occurs when the orders are filled by hand and a mistake is made in the warehouse. A warehouse maker may ship the wrong item completely or may ship the correct item in the wrong size or color. Again the consumer will likely not know a mistake was made until the order arrives. The online retailer will likely take responsibility for returning the incorrect item and will ship the correct item as soon as possible. However, this may not completely correct the problem in all cases. For example a consumer who purchased an item for a specific event may not receive the replacement item in time for the event.

The Need to Return an Item

In situations where the online shopper orders the wrong item as well as situations where the online retailer mistakenly ships the wrong item there may be a need to make returns. Although this may not seem to be a huge problem it can be particularly troubling for some consumers. In particular online shoppers who opt to do their shopping online specifically because they work odd hours may have a great deal of difficulty making returns. This is because the process of shipping the item back to the online retailer will generally involve taking the item to a post office. Depending on the hours in which the consumer works, it may be difficult to get to a post office during regular business hours and may require the shopper to take time off from work to make the return.

Comparing Online Retailers

Just like traditional shoppers online shoppers should carefully compare online retailers before choosing to make purchases from one of these retailers. This is important because not all retailers are created equal. The same product offered from two different online retailers may be more expensive from one retailer, have a higher shipping cost from one retailer and may be subject to different return policies. All of these factors can contribute to the consumer’s overall satisfaction with the product even when we are discussing identical products because these factors influence the purchasing experience. Additionally, the reputation of the online retailer can also help to influence the consumer’s decision of whether or not to make a purchase from a particular consumer. This article will discuss comparing online retailers using factors such as price, shipping and return policies.

Using Price to Make Comparisons

Price is one of the obvious factors which consumers often use to compare retailers whether they are considering shopping online or in traditional stores. This is a very important consideration because not all retailers sell the same products for the same price. While, in general, the prices will often be similar simply because retailers are in direct competition with each other for a consumer’s business there are occasions in which one particular retailer may be offering a product at a discounted price. These price deviations typically occur when a retailer is attempting to reduce inventory to either make room for new products or because the retailer is closing its operations. Regardless of the reason for the price reductions, consumers can benefit by purchasing items from this retailer and a lower price than they would pay with other retailers.

Consumers who are relying on price to decide between two online retailers should also verify the reputation of the online retailer before making the purchase. This is usually not an issue when the consumer is making a purchase from a nationally known chain of stores. However, when the consumer does not know much about the online retailer it is wise to investigate the retailer to ensure it is a legitimate and reputable company. Consulting the Better Business Bureau is one way the consumer can learn more about the reputation of the company.

Considering Shipping in the Comparison

Although cost is often one of the first factors consumers consider when comparing online retailers or even traditional retailers, shipping must also be considered carefully when comparing two or more online retailers. This is because the cost of shipping as well as the shipping options can both influence the consumer’s decision. Two retailers may offer products for the same price but the shipping prices may differ from one online retailer to the next. In some cases this difference may substantially change the total price of purchasing the item. Consumers in a traditional store do not have to worry about shipping because they simply drive to the store and leave with the item. However, online shoppers have items shipped directly to their home or another location so the cost of shipping is an important consideration.

Online retailers also sometimes have to consider the shipping methods available. This is especially important if the consumer needs to have an item arrive quickly. In these cases a consumer may opt to choose one online retailer over another if only one of the retailers offers express shipping options such as overnight shipping or two day shipping.

When the Return Policy is Important

Online shoppers should also always be aware of the return policies when they are making purchases online. This is important because the cost of returning an item can be expensive in some cases especially if it is a large or a heavy item. While some online retailers will bear the cost of shipping when they make mistakes or items are defective, returns for other reasons may result in the consumer being responsible for shipping charges. For these reasons consumers should always carefully review the return policies when comparing two or more online retailers.

Comparison Shopping when Online Shopping

One of the conveniences of online shopping which is enjoyed by many is the ease of comparison shopping. The ability to compare items quickly and accurate is ideal to shoppers who are looking to purchase items which offer the best features as well as to shoppers who are looking to find the best bargain on a particular item. This article will discuss a few of the ways in which comparison shopping takes place during online shopping including manual comparisons by the consumer and using comparison charts. This article will also discuss how items which are not readily available in traditional stores can be compared quickly and accurately when shopping for these items online.

Conducting Your Own Comparisons

Online shoppers often perform comparisons of items online in much the same way they would compare items available in traditional stores. However, the comparison process is greatly simplified when the consumer is doing the comparison online. When comparing two items a consumer may look at a variety of different aspects. Some of these aspects may include available features, durability, aesthetic appearance and even price. However, when comparing these items in traditional stores the process can be rather difficult. Consumers can often compare similar items in one store to determine which model of the item they prefer. However, once this comparison is complete the consumer also typically wishes to compare this chosen item with others available in terms of the cost of the item.

This financial comparison typically involves traveling from one store to another and comparing the price of the item at each store to determine which store is offering the item at the most favorable price. Online shoppers may also be interested in comparing the features and prices associated with a particular item but they have the advantage of being able to conduct these comparisons from the convenience of their home. Consumers can simply sit at their home computer and visit websites for retailers offering items of interest. With this information the consumer can determine which item they wish to purchase and which retailer they wish to patronize. The online shopper can also make this purchase from the convenience of his home rather than having to travel to the selected store to purchase a chosen item.

Using Comparison Charts Available Online

Another great advantage of shopping online is the ability to generate comparison charts of similar items almost instantly. Many online retailers who offer products from a number of different manufacturers also offer the ability to compare these items easily. In fact many online retailers will enable the online shopper to select several items they are interested in learning more about and then generates a chart outlining the essential features of each product as well as the price for which the product is being offered.

Comparing Items Not Readily Available

Another way in which online shopping is very convenient for comparison shopping is it gives the consumer the opportunity to compare items which are not readily available. This may include items which are new and popular as well as items which are older and rarer. Making these comparisons in traditional stores can be quite difficult because the consumer may not be able to find stores which are currently stocking a particular item. However, when shopping online it is far easier to find online retailers who offer products which are otherwise hard to fine. Therefore, it is much easier to compare these items online. This is because the comparison can take place even if the online retailer does not have the product available for sale. The online retailer likely has enough of a product description stored to provide readers with a wealth of information about the products which may not currently be available. Conversely shoppers who rely on traditional stores may spend days, weeks, months or even years waiting for a particular product to become available for comparison purposes.
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