Shop till you drop

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I use the internet a lot for shopping. Why do I always end up spending more than I should?

Online shopping is twice as popular with the younger generation than traditional shops, which should not come as a surprise. Convenience and cost are the two major factors that have taken shoppers out of shops and onto websites.  It is not unknown for some people to actually shop online while being inside the store. With a change in shopping habits has come a change in spending habits; we’ll find out why.

Statistics show that around 80% of Americans now shop online, with at least 15% of them making weekly purchases and over 50% have bought something on their mobile phone. E-commerce is growing at a phenomenal rate of over 23% per year, and the major players have eclipsed their rivals in bricks and mortar retail.

Convenience is king when it comes to shopping on the internet. It is far easier to make a couple of mouse clicks or tablet swipes than to start up the car, drive to town, find a parking spot and go into a store. Your purchase will be delivered to your door often the same day or maybe the day after.

Price is another primary factor; you can usually get a better deal through a website or an app than you can in the actual store. Savvy online shoppers always check for student, overstock or military discounts which are widely available. Competition is immense among web retailers. This is good news for the shopper, since prices come down to stay ahead of competitors. Research has revealed that 65% of people compare the prices online with the store before making their purchase.

In a store you have no idea whether what you are buying is good or not. Websites provide reviews from other shoppers, which encourages more informed decisions, though caution must be taken to avoid fake ratings and reviews. It could be the case that you spend more money online, although half of those surveyed said that they did not. There are a number of reasons that this could be, but regardless, retailers are using very clever marketing techniques.

On a website, your shopping cart is never full. It is a virtual space,so you cannot physically see the items in it. Additional incentives such as free shipping may also encourage us to buy an extra item to reach the threshold. The browsing experience is easy and stress-free. You can easily search for items online without hunting through aisles of stock in a shop. Once the system knows your preferences, it can tailor your shopping by showing you similar items or ‘things other people purchased.’ The more you buy the more you save, and online retailers love giving discounts to make you spend more. Without the overhead of premises, stock, staff, utility bills companies such as Amazon can corner the market and wipe out their competitors in the physical world.

Checking out and paying is also a breeze with no queues, no cash, no carrying, and no driving home. Online shoppers should be aware that they also have to monitor their credit card statements and fully understand chargeback procedures for any mistakes or fraud. Significant cost and convenience benefits make online shopping the top choice for students, but make sure you can stay in control of your spending habits.

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping… Bo Derek.

Written by Suzanne Hite, former publications editor serving the technology services sector.