We’re living in a time of unprecedented convenience. In the past, essentially, the only way you could buy something was to go to the store and get it. That is definitely still an option, but now you can also order nearly anything and get one company or another to deliver it to you.
Amazon is the king of the eCommerce business model. Some people don’t much care for how Jeff Bezos does business, as there are widespread reports of borderline inhumane conditions at the Amazon fulfillment centers. Still, even if you don’t so much like giving more money to someone who already has tens of billions of dollars, the convenience is hard to resist.
Let’s talk a little more about buying things online versus getting them in physical stores and some notable pros and cons regarding each option.
Online Shopping Just Keeps Growing
If you go back to this century’s beginning, there were a few people ordering things online and getting companies to deliver them, but it had not caught on anywhere close to where it is right now. At the moment, 62% of individuals shop online once per month or more.
It’s not hard to see why. The convenience factor is so much a part of it that some people shop almost exclusively online now and scoff at the very idea of going to a brick-and-mortar store location. Amazon is the unquestioned leader in this field, but you can also get a company to deliver your groceries, clothing, and much more.
You can order prepared food, not just from your local pizza or Chinese restaurant, but also from all the way across the country through services like Goldbelly. Goldbelly charges exorbitant amounts, but you can get some Jewish deli food from an authentic New York deli, or maybe you’ll opt for BBQ ribs from a Kansas City establishment that’s known coast to coast.
If you have enough money, you can get websites and apps to send you nearly anything, and you can sit back and wait until it gets to you. If you need it urgently, you can pay even more for express delivery.
Online Shopping Pros
Aside from convenience, online shopping is nice because of Covid-19 worries. If the eCommerce model was doing well before the pandemic started, Covid-19 basically supercharged it. Amazon became a juggernaut much larger and more successful than it previously was, but nearly every store and company that embraced online sales have done well.
If you have an immunocompromised condition, you can order medication and get it sent to you, along with food, tools, household cleaning products, etc. You don’t even have to contact the delivery person directly. Once they leave your items on the porch, you can open the door, take them inside, and just like that, you have completed the transaction.
Online Shopping Cons
There are also potential online shopping problems that we would be remiss not to mention, though. For one thing, when individual shops online, they have to give the website or app their credit card number and all of their other personal information. You have to trust that the business has the right security features to prevent hackers from snatching all that info.
Hacking attacks do occur, and significant data breaches are not that uncommon. How many news stories have you seen talking about data breaches where a hacker or hacking syndicate stole millions of customer identities?
If that ever happens, you have to change your password accounts and often get new credit cards as well. You must also keep a close eye on your bank account to make sure no one is trying to withdraw money from it. This is a headache that is not likely to happen if you go to a store in person and pay in cash.
In-Person Shopping Pros
As for in-person shopping, some people do still prefer that, particularly for certain items. Groceries are one thing that many individuals still like getting themselves.
You might not like leaving the house to go to your local grocery store, but if you do that rather than using an online delivery service, you can get things like produce after looking at it in person. If you trust a delivery service, you might get fruit that doesn’t look so good or fatty cuts of meat that you don’t like.
You can also impulse buy, something you can’t do online. Maybe you see a new kind of TV dinner at the grocery store you would not otherwise know about.
If you head to a clothing store, you can try on clothes, which you cannot do if you buy them online and have the company ship them to you. There are pilot programs that let you use virtual reality to try on clothing, and some of them work reasonably well, but it’s not quite the same.
In-Person Shopping Cons
Right now, one of the biggest in-person shopping cons is Covid-19. You might have vaccinated yourself, and you may wear a mask in public, but there are still risks. Again, a person with an immunocompromised condition will not want to risk going out unless they absolutely have to.
Also, you have to burn gas money when you go out unless you walk or ride a bike. If you have an electric car, this is not so much of an issue, but many people can’t afford electric vehicles yet.
Also, the infrastructure does not exist yet to support electric cars all that well. That’s probably coming in the not-too-distant future, but till then, in-person shopping means spending gas money.
On the whole, many people seem okay with doing both a little online shopping and some in-person shopping as well. It should be pretty fascinating to see how American society goes as we progress further into the 21st century. You can bet that eCommerce will keep doing well, but will a time ever come when brick-and-mortar stores become entirely obsolete?