Online shopping: The Pros and Cons

Alexa Montecillo (The Freeman) - January 26, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines – There has been in these past years an increasing trend towards online shopping, at virtual stores over the internet. The various shopping websites have become convenient avenues for finding particular items since the offered stuff is often properly sorted out. Many of these websites also offer items at bargain prices.

Donna L. Montaldo, writing at, points out that there are many great buys online and it is so easy to compare prices, at the convenience of not having to leave home. She cautions, though, that the deal that looks great online may fall short of what has been advertised. And it is hard to complain online than in face-to-face transaction.

There are other downsides that Montaldo cites about online shopping:

• There's no way to physically check out the items before purchasing.

• It's not possible to negotiate the price and payment terms that may exist in local stores.

• Items offered online are sometimes out of stock, further delaying delivery.

• It is difficult to know if a site is a legitimate and safe site to shop.

• Shipping cost are often added to the price of the purchased item.

• Restocking and shipping costs are often charged on returns made online.

But the negatives are also pitted with advantages. In online shopping -

• the stores never close.

• there is no dress code.

• shoppers don't have to make the trip, no traffic and parking woes.

• there's no pressure from aggressive salespeople.

• products are not limited to those available locally.

Many online shops provide excellent values because they do not have overhead costs as compared to a physical business. There's often no shop-space rentals, insurance, taxes, and salaries of many people to cover. The savings are then passed on to shoppers by way of lower prices.

But then again, there are certain fees to factor in that can bloat the total cost. Thus, it is always wise to consider the bottom-line cost and, if possible, compare it with the price of the item at the physical stores. If the difference is slight, then getting it at the physical store is the better option - there, the item may be actually checked before purchase and availing of replacement later, if ever, is quicker.

The website advices that the way to get good value on products offered online is to look at the entire purchase amount and not just the tag price of the product itself. One thing to watch out for is the shipping charge; it could amount to a significant figure. It is advisable to read the customer service sections at e-commerce sites to have a clear idea regarding return policies, restocking fees and product guarantees.

The order shall only be placed once everything is clear. In case of any remaining questions, there must be a toll-free number to call. The customer shall be particularly careful in giving out credit card details; it is very important to check whether the payment gateway is secured or not.

Online shopping is likely to gain more popularity in the face of the fast-paced and increasingly digital lifestyles in these modern times. For sure, better policies for customer protection are forthcoming. But in the meantime, online customers shall take extra precaution.

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