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Cashing in on the Benefits of Retail Digitization? Here Are 8 Potential Downsides of Online Shopping



Online Shopping

Online Shopping: No one has embraced the world of e-commerce quite like American consumers. A recent survey showed that 69% of US adults prefer to make their purchases in the cybersphere.

The COVID-19 quarantines have had a significant hand in boosting e-commerce sales. It’s also led to an accelerated rate of retail digitization. Retailers have to build composable, adaptable business models to help withstand the disruptive environments of today’s market.

Like anything, online shopping has both benefits and risks. Cultivating a healthy awareness of these disadvantages makes you an informed shopper who can make better decisions about your purchases in the world of 1s and 0s.

Potential of porch piracy

A survey by C+R Research reveals that the number of online shoppers who had their package stolen by porch pirates rose from thirty-six to four hundred and thirty-five in 2020. 52% of American consumers were worried about porch piracy, and a whopping 48% of shoppers avoided purchasing expensive items for fear of theft after delivery.

The potential for theft is one of the most significant disadvantages of shopping online. Even if you’re home at the time of delivery, your package might be vulnerable to opportunistic criminals.

Fortunately, if you still have a click-happy shopping finger, you can solve the porch piracy problem with a virtual PO box. A virtual PO box is an actual location that receives your mail for you, from which point you can use your phone or computer to schedule a pickup or have your package forwarded directly to your house or office.

Shipping delays

If you’re thinking of ordering some urgently-needed items online, arranging their arrival by the day you need them might prove tricky.

Even with the seismic growth of e-commerce, the best shipping companies may not offer same-day delivery if you live too far from their distribution centers. And even if same-day shipping is on the table, sometimes shipping companies encounter delaying-causing obstacles such as driver sick days or traffic accidents.

In short, online shopping is not a habit built on instant gratification. It’s not like on-the-spot buying at your local store where you pick an item and take it home with you. When shopping online, things might be lost, damaged, detoured, or even delivered to different addresses.

Therefore, you can imagine the kind of delays you may experience when you choose the click over the swipe.

Shipping costs

Shopping online involves shipping costs. While most retailers offer free shipping, you have to meet a minimum purchase requirement to qualify for this offer.

A promo code can help you lower the shipping costs without necessarily buying things you don’t need, but these can be few and far between, especially if you aren’t on the email newsletter.

Using programs such as Amazon Prime and ShopRunner, your package ships for free without any minimum. Just ensure you weigh membership costs against your total savings so that you’re not wasting money on a service you use infrequently.

Chances of fraud are higher

Cybersecurity is a growing concern, and the risk of fraud is higher with online shopping than in-person shopping.

When a site asks for too many personal details, consider that a red flag. You can’t always trust an online retailer to send the products they say they will, and you could be a victim of fraud if you aren’t careful.

You should only provide the details necessary to complete a transaction and facilitate delivery—your name, credit card number, and delivery address. Any request for a bank account or social security number should have you exiting the site right away.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported a whopping 4.8 million fraud cases in 2020, with more and more occurring over the Internet. Exercise caution with your personal information to avoid adding to the statistics.

The return process can be complicated

While the best online retailer will make the return process straightforward for their customers, some make it challenging to return a package or acquire a refund. Many online-based companies charge what they call a restocking or refund fee, even for defective merchandise.

If your online retailer doesn’t give you a return shipment label, be ready to pay for postal service expenses out of your pocket. Often, you will not see reimbursement for shopping costs, regardless of the condition of the delivered item.

However, many retailers also allow you to return items to a brick-and-mortar store. Check your vendor’s website to see if in-person returns are an option.

Uncertainty surrounding what you’re buying

With online shopping, it’s hard to tell exactly how the item you’re purchasing looks in real life. Unless you’re familiar with the brand or you’re making a repeat purchase, buying over the Internet often requires a leap of faith.

You cannot view the actual item or touch it to confirm whether it’s the right size, texture, and quality. Just looking at a photo doesn’t always provide the clarity you want, and it wouldn’t be the first time someone was disappointed by an online purchase.

Before placing an order, research the product and read reviews to ensure you’re paying for a high-quality, durable, and well-fitting item.

Your contact with the community is reduced

Imagine a situation where you have to order everything online. When would you have the opportunity to leave your house and interact with others in your community?

Sometimes you want the experience of visiting a mall because while you’re there, you will interact with people, look around, or maybe grab a bite at a restaurant. There’s more to our lives than what’s on our phones and computers, and sometimes what you need is a breath of fresh air.

However, it may surprise you to learn that you can still find local goods while shopping online. Websites like Etsy allow you to filter by geographic location, so you can still support your community even while satisfying the cyber itch.

No immediate assistance from the seller

If you have a question about the product you’re shopping for online, it may take some time to find help.

Fortunately, most online retailers are improving their customer response time. Today, you will find an automated bot or instant chat service that can answer basic questions instantly. These bots can’t yet compare to someone attending to you in person, but it’s a significant improvement that allows you to avoid pushy salespeople.

Learning how to sell on Etsy can be challenging. But it is very possible to grow your shop, and boost your Etsy sales, by implementing some proven strategies to gain visibility and build a loyal customer base that will keep buying from you.  

Wrap up

Moderation and education are critical when it comes to the world of e-commerce. Practice safe shopping habits, and you won’t have to worry about the confessions of an (online) shop-a-holic.



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