Advantages and Disadvantages to Shopping Online

Advantages and Disadvantages to Shopping Online

online shopping

If you have ever wondered whether to buy something in person, at a store, or from a second hand shop, there are a few things to consider. Let’s take a look at some key factors in making your decision for how to go holiday shopping this winter, or for your best friend’s birthday, as it may be.


This one is easy. If you are buying something online, you do not have to lift a finger, pretty much. Well, that might technically be true, but that’s about all you will have to lift. That is because you can shop from your computer or, nowadays, even your cell phone. So you may out and about and remember that you need to buy something, and you can do that from your current location (provided you have access to a secure internet connection). It has never been more convenient – you can simultaneous shop and play online bingo at – to get everything from groceries to baby shower gifts delivered to your door, so take advantage of this option when you cannot get out, or you can’t be bothered to get out.


This one varies depending on what kind of services you have available to you. Some major online retailers, if you shop from them enough, have annual memberships that are worth getting which speed up the time of delivery. Still, if you need a dress for a party that night, or you are in urgent need of some kitchen supplies for a dinner party, then your best bet will be to go to a physical, brick and mortar retail for whatever you need then and there.

Then again, if you don’t need whatever is on your list immediately and wish to save time, the fact that you can buy a bunch of stuff at the same time from your computer is a huge time saver. Depending on your time situation, perhaps shopping online is the way to go, or just biting the bullet and driving down to your local store is the right option.


This is a biggie. Many times, an online retailer can save you money simply by virtue of their scale of economy. They buy and deliver more things in bulk, so can offer items at cost, much closer to wholesale prices than many physical locations that have to pay much higher overhead. Also, due to the sheer number of people shopping at online retailers, they can more frequently offer deals that save you big bucks. If you are looking to buy clothes, then perhaps second hand is the way to go, with prices that can be difficult to beat for the styles and brand names to be had.

Hidden costs for purchases vary from online shopping to brick and mortar retailers as well. You are often charged, depending on where you are, for state, provincial, federal taxes, or even extra taxes for certain types of items like cigarettes or alcohol at stores. At times, depending on where the item you are buying is shipped from, you are charged one of these taxes (although not as often as you might if you were buying in store), and also charged for shipping fees. Some major online retailers waive the latter cost if you buy over a certain amount, but that also varies. Taking these considerations into account will factor into overall expenses.

Refunds and Return Policy

This will vary by retailer as well, but it is worth paying attention to. Because online retailers often deal with so many consumers, it is in their interest to retain a favourable customer service relations and be lenient with returns. In the case of physical stores, their return policy will depend on management, so make sure to know what you are signing up for before actually making any purchases.