What if I told you that offline malls are going out of business by the dozens in the United States? It doesn’t matter whether you live in the suburbs or in the middle or smack-dab in the middle of the city. The story is the same. Big box stores like Sears, Kmart, and Target are either dead or gasping their last breath.

Who knew that Amazon is going to pack such a powerful punch? Surely, people did not see this coming twenty years ago. This is a testament to the fact that online shopping works. People just can’t get enough of online shopping.

The problem is it’s very easy to think that online shopping is the only game in towns as far as buying products go. If this is your mindset, then you’re doing yourself a big disservice because online shopping is not a 100% fool-proof solution. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to all your product needs.

There are certain advantages to physically walking into a store, handling the merchandise, smelling it, looking at it, even listening to the sounds it makes. In other words, there’s just something about direct personal experience with the product that can help you make the right informed decision.

It also helps to talk to a flesh-and-blood human being who can walk you through the different selection criteria that you need to think about to so you can make the right call. All of this goes away and when you do online shopping. Of course, it’s more problematic with certain types of merchandise than with others.

The Advantages of Online Shopping

The most commonly appreciated advantage of online shopping is convenience. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the office or whether you are on a hiking trail. As long as you can get access to the Internet through your mobile device, you can shop. You can shop any time. You can shop anywhere.

Another key advantage of online shopping is that it’s harder to get ripped off. If you’re dealing with offline stores, you’re basically dealing with physical limitations. You don’t want to get in your car and travel halfway across town to get to the next competitor shop. You’d rather just do your shopping right here, right now.

The problem with that is that you are at the mercy of the pricing policy of your local shop. What if the store at the outer edge of town has a much better deal? On top of that, what if there is a shop the next town over who can give you breathtaking discounts?

You lose out if you are just going to go with physical proximity. If you don’t mind shopping, all that goes away because you can easily do comparison shopping to find out the best prices, the best shipping policies, the best customer return policies, so on and so forth. It’s all available at your fingertips.

Finally, online shopping brings tremendous and explosive selection. Whether you’re buying stuff from the United States, China, or anywhere in between, you can find it online and, usually, you can get it shipped at affordable rates.

With all that said, online shopping is not without its limitations. First of all, if you’re looking for clothing, you can pretty much bet that 40% of the time, you probably would have to return whatever it is that you end up buying. This is because of the fact that you are not aware of the materials.

Maybe the online store would say that the item is cotton and they may be 100% accurate. The problem is when you read the word cotton, a different set of impressions come to mind. These impressions lead to expectations and, before you know it, when the product arrives, you’re not quite happy. Unfortunately, when it comes to apparel sales this happens 40% of the time.

Another issue with online shopping involves fly-by-night operators. Usually, when you buy stuff at reputable online stores, you wouldn’t have to worry about this. This usually happens when you buy stuff at eBay or Amazon.

There are many fly-by-night operators there that set up shop quickly and fold shop just as quickly. They give you ridiculous discounts. They give you no-name or no-brand deals but when that the stuff comes and you’re unhappy, good luck getting your money back. You can try to get back through your credit cards, but a lot of these shady operators have ways of beating the credit card chargeback system.

You’re basically taking your financial life in your hands when you shop online far away from reputable platforms like Amazon. Even eBay is not a guaranteed provider because there are lots of scammers setting up shop there.

You also have to worry about impulse buying. Many online stores are cleverly designed. They are set up in such a way as to maximize your shopping cart’s content. They use all sorts of psychologically well crafted content as well as graphical and text cues. If you are not a very discriminating or strategic shopper, you might end up spending a lot more dollars than you originally intended.

Finally, with online shopping, it’s very easy to waste time. It’s very easy to buy products that are trendy and hot but you ultimately don’t end up using. How come? Well, you get caught up in the moment when your friend is all excited about a trendy product that she bought.

You don’t want to get left behind so you buy the same stuff and then before you know it, you realize that you only use it once and it’s just lying around the house.

It would be awesome if you only spent $5-10 on the item. What if you spent $70, $200 or even $500? People spend quite a fortune in stuff that simply ends up taking space in their homes. This is because online shopping feeds into impulse buying.

Keep the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping in mind the next time you go online shopping. It’s not the guaranteed solution for everybody, but it’s definitely not something to be avoided either.