Why does it seem like people in America use online shopping more these days than traditional shopping? While researching, I discovered why these days Americans prefer online shopping over in store shopping. Being able to see current styles and trends, compare prices, save time and gas, and shop 24 hours a day are just a few of the advantages of online shopping. Yes, online shopping is the preferable method of shopping for so many people these days and it looks like it always will be.
Online shopping has its benefits for people who are always on the go, or who rarely have time to shop in stores. In a personal interview, Katelyn Thomas states, “The biggest perk of shopping online is convenience. Especially if you are working a lot or going to school and you have a computer or a smart phone on hand to browse all day” (Thomas). For the busy person who has no time to shop in stores, the convenience of shopping online is more than welcome. And an added benefit of the convenience is that online shopping never closes. The avid online shopper can shop 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
For those people who absolutely hate stepping foot in stores (like most men, for instance), online shopping is a way for them to avoid the crowded malls, disgusting dressing rooms, screaming kids, long lines, and the inability to find a parking spot. In her article entitled “Wing Tips: Why I’d Rather Buy Online”, Jennifer Nicole “…I see no reason to jam myself into a small space with a bunch of hooks and a little seat that doesn’t even fit my purse, let alone my ass” (2). She goes on to say that when you buy online you never have to yell out for the salesperson to bring you a different size (Nicole 1).
People in America prefer shopping online versus in store because, according to Jennifer Nicole, “when you buy clothing online, you are focused on your body and no one else’s. Walking into a department store, I am influenced by the mannequins, the displays…but mostly, I notice the other women, shopping with the same hunter-gatherer mindset I am” (Nicole 1). She seems to think that when shopping in store, you lose focus on what you went there for and you get distracted and start looking around at what the other women are holding or trying on (Nicole 1). Jennifer then goes on to say “When I shop online, I keep an open mind about new, interesting pieces that I am excited about. Instead of wondering whether someone will think I am crazy for liking it, or putting it on my body when it’s supposed to look good on someone thinner/heavier/pear-shaped/whatever” (Nicole 1). This seems to make sense, when most people go shopping they look at what’s on display because they know that’s what’s in style or what’s trending.
Jennifer Nicole also states another great idea; she explains “shopping online is great for buying out-of-season or out of style clothing. Could I have found a real top hat in my city? Hell no!!” (Nicole 2). When looking for unique items, costumes or trying to find an old fashioned style, online shopping is the best place to go. There are lots of online stores for these hard to find items. Another alternative is shopping for used items on websites like EBay or Craigslist.
A case can even be made that online shopping is more environmentally friendly than going to the mall. According to Collin Dunn’s article “Online Shopping vs. Driving to the Mall: The Greener Way to Buy”, “…it can be quite a bit greener to cut the retail store and all the building, lighting, cooling, heating, and so forth that the store requires out of the equation.” He indicates that shipping two 20 pound packages by overnight air, the most energy-intensive delivery mode, still uses about 40 percent less fuel than driving round trip to the mall or store (Dunn 4). Although a case can also be made that online shopping results in 2.5 times more packaging than shopping in stores (Dunn 5). According to Dunn, New Yorkers, for example, left more than 8,300 tons of cardboard and mixed paper to be recycled in the first full collection week after Christmas 2005, a 21 percent increase over the previous year. While all that can be recycled, it takes energy and infrastructure to do so (Dunn 5).
Online shopping can be a great advantage for people with disabilities or the elderly who find it too daunting a task to take on a trek to the shopping mall. And the fact that their online purchases can be shipped directly to their front door makes it all the more better.
Not everyone prefers online shopping. There will always be those people who love the experience of walking the malls and getting the in-person experience that includes looking and touching and trying on before they buy. As Lori Brown states in her article “The Battle Between Online vs. In-Store Shopping”, you can’t always examine the product online like you can in-store, especially important with clothing and footwear (1). She mentions that a downside of online shopping is the shipping and handling fees and that there is no instant gratification of walking in the door with your new purchases in hand (Brown 1).
Another possible downside to online shopping is the price of shipping and handling fees. The price of shipping might be higher than the cost of the merchandise you purchased and having to wait 2-3 weeks for it to be delivered is not as “consumer friendly” as taking the object home the very same day. Sizing and returning play a very tricky factor also. If the garment does not fit properly, returning it by mail can be burdensome, and waiting for another size to arrive can take weeks.
For those people who don’t believe in credit cards, shopping online can be difficult for them. There are options such as PayPal where they money can be taken directly from your bank account, but this involves a level of trust from the consumer that not everyone wants to deal with.
According to Sante Achille’s article “World Statistics on the Number of Internet Shoppers”, among the millions of consumers that have shopped online, the percentage of shoppers online in the United States is 94%. The most popular purchased items were books (41%), clothing/accessories/shoes (38%), videos/DVDs/games (24%), airline tickets (24%), and electronic equipment (23%) (Achille 1).
Basically, it all comes down to personal preference. For those people with busy schedules the convenience of shopping 24 hours a day makes a huge difference. And for those people who live in remote towns with no shopping nearby, internet shopping is a godsend. And for those people who love the “in person” shopping experience, they will still continue to do so, but they also have the choice to shop online if they should wish to. In any event, it sure is a great option to have.
Clearly, we are a computer friendly country eager to embrace online shopping. Yes, there are so many advantages of online shopping, and it will remain a preferable method of shopping for the foreseeable future.
Achille, Sante. "World Statistics on the Number of Internet Shoppers." Italian Surch Marketing Consultant and Blogger. Italian Surch Marketing Consultant and Blogger, 28/Jan/2008. Web. 30 May 2012. <http://www.multilingual-search.com/world-statistics-on-the-number-of-internet-shoppers/28/01/2008/>.
Brown, Lori. "The Battle Between Online vs. In-Store Shopping." Earth911.com. Earth911, 11/24/08. Web. 30 May 2012. <http://earth911.com.news/2008/11/24/the-battle-between-online-vs-in-store-shopping/>.
Dunn, Collin. "Online Shopping vs. Driving to the Mall: The Greener Way to Buy." Living/Culture. Descovery Communications,LLC, 13,Feb,2009. Web. 30 May 2012. <http://www.treehugger.com/culture/online-shopping-vs-driving-to-the-mall-the greener-way-to-shop.com>.
Nicole, Jennifer. "Wing Tips: Why I’d Rather Buy Online." 15/Nov/2010. Web. 9 May 2012. <http://current.com/fashion/92804388_wing-tips-why-i-d-rather-buy-online.htm>.
Personal Interview, Katelyn Thomas. 5/15/2012.