Sunday, 29 September 2013

Week 4: E-Commerce

Posted by Beryl at 21:44
4th post!

Today, I will be talking about something that everybody around me is online! If you have been reading my previous posts, with your deductive skills you might have guessed that....... I do not shop online.
Shocked Patrick is shocked.
Yes, I have resigned myself to a sorry user of the Internet. Some reasons for not shopping online includes my noobness (Noob: a person who is new or inexperienced in a subject - as quoted from in navigating through the complex waters of online shopping as well as certain restrictions (parental, lack of credit card etc.). To be honest, it's not that bad either. Think about it, I SAVE MONEY!

Moving on, the focus of my post today would be the pros and cons of shopping online (with some help from the neighbourhood's friendly memes)! Just a friendly reminder of the good and bad times that people have definitely experienced when shopping online ;)

  1. One can shop anytime anywhere. With technology abounding (namely laptops and smart phones), shopping online is made even more convenient, as long as you have the Internet at your fingertips. 
  2. On the same thread, there are smart phone apps for even greater convenience. All the better to shop with! These apps, including Qoo10 and Asos, have specially designed interfaces different from their physical websites that provide users with easy navigation on their phones.
  3. One saves time and effort from shopping online. Instead of visiting physical stores, one can shop in the comfort of their own home with just a few clicks. With the time saved from visiting physical stores, one can shop with greater efficiency (aka more clothes in less time!)
  4. Sometimes the items found online can be cheaper than those in physical stores. This is due to cost savings (from not operating a physical store etc.) that are passed down to the consumers, hooray for us!
  5. One cannot deny the greater variety of items one can find online. There are some items that can only be found online and nowhere else, such as those found in blog shops.
  6. As an add-on to the previous point, one can obtain items that you don't have access to locally. Shopping has become international, even when you're at home. Now one is able to view and purchase items from China, Korea, America and the UK without flying overseas, and save money too.
  7. Then there's the wonders of shipping. With offers of free or discounted shipping, how can one resist buying more? In addition, some online stores (such as offer free shipping for a minimum amount spent, justifying the need to purchase more items. Not to mention, the option of mass shipping on some online stores saves shipping costs too and allows people to shop without inhibitions.
You guys must be nodding your heads by now, I don't blame you. If I had my way, I would have already succumbed to the depths of this addictive pastime of my peers. But life isn't always peachy keen, so...

Nevertheless, some factors make me have second thoughts about shopping online.

  1. The very fact that this activity is enticing is already a big warning sign. Just like Hansel and Gretel, where a house made of sweet treats can never mean a good thing, online shopping is a trap for consumers too. It is easy to lose control of oneself and get addicted, especially with a credit card in hand. Soon, we might find ourselves with a room full of junk and a growing stack of bills to pay.
  2. The items purchased might not turn out the way they are supposed to be. Haven't we heard horror stories about people receiving items that are less-than-spectacular looking from the original shown in the website? The pictures usually look good but when you receive your purchase it might turn out to be of a sucky quality. Like how fast food stores 'airbrush' their food in the pictures but when you buy they they actually look kind of 'meh'.
  3. You get to 'experience' the product in a physical store as compared to an online store. You can immediately check whether the item is in mint condition, and in the case of clothes, try them on to see if they fit. 
  4. While there are short delivery times, the fact is that people still have to wait. At least shopping at a physical store ensures one immediate gratification, as compared to the waiting you have to do for your delivery.
  5. While in the 'Pros' section I might boast about the "wonders of shipping" (as I quote myself), there are times when shipping rears its ugly end too. Not every online store offers affordable shipping. Sometimes shipping can go into the tens, even for a single product. Furthermore, not all online stores offer shipping to your country.
  6. Some purchases might get damaged or lost along the way. It is inevitable that something might happen, especially if your delivery is travelling between countries/continents. 'Nuff said.
  7. Inefficient customer support systems. There are times when one might have queries about certain issues regarding their purchases, like how a delivery is taking forever to arrive, but  no one to respond to them. This is especially so if the seller is not from an established source. Many a time have I read message boards on Qoo10 Singapore where people would be asking about their purchases and there would be no reply or unhelpful answers. This is enough to plant a seed of fear in me - What if it never comes? - and turn me off from (hypothetically) shopping online.
  8. There is also the fuss of exchanging an item. Exchanging an item would mean wrapping it up and paying for postage, before waiting for the other party to receive the item and sending you another one. It might take a month before you finally get what you want. 
  9. Some shopping apps are not well-developed. This leaves users frustrated as purchasing items online is supposed to be an effortless experience but the lack of a few buttons or a messy interface can make all the difference between yay and nay.
  10. You need the Internet! (But I don't think that's an issue here because there's Wifi practically everywhere.)
I found an article in The Straits Times recently which is just timely for my blog post. Long story short, online shoppers are unhappy! A poll conducted locally has revealed that out of a 1000 online shoppers only 51% are satisfied with their experiences shopping online. Compare this figure to the 83% of the United States, 78% of Europe and 60%  of China and you can see that there's a problem. Some grouses includes what I've mentioned above: delivery issues, high shipping costs, damaged items, inability to contact the retailer or get a refund. Interesting fact: Singaporeans have the highest tendency in Asia to abandon their "shopping carts", due to reasons such as delivery costs being higher than expected. Conclusion: Shopping online isn't such a breeze after all.

It's fine to shop online! One just needs a little self control for a rewarding experience. To be honest, I don't shop much at all, online or offline. When I'm offline, I go out to mainly eat (oh the calories!) or look at stationery (such a sucker). When I'm online, I'm busy watching YouTube videos or catching up on K-Pop stuff, so no online shopping for me, although I must say I was tempted at times with the cheap prices and beautiful things. BUT I SAVE MONEY! I'll just keep telling myself that.
I save money!

Until next time! じゃまったね~!안녕~!


Huiwen on 5 October 2013 at 20:58 said...

I agree a lot with your Con #1! I am obviously a testament to that, haha. That is the single biggest downside of many things in today's world. In an age when so many things have already been invented, innovations come in the form of improvements! And since people are ridiculously busy and lead such fast-paced lives, convenience becomes a top priority—which sets up a trap for ourselves. The culture of convenience also has repercussions beyond the individual, though: the giving of plastic bags for every purchase is one example. Even when people buy the smallest items, they just take the bag that comes along with it—how environmentally ignorant. These days, I choose to use reusable bags over plastic bags (when I remember to bring them T^T) even going to the extent of telling my friends when they don't need a bag ;) It might get irritating, but hey! I'm saving the earth hahahaha.

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