Whether it is products, groceries, a ride, or your lunch, people seem to be ordering everything online. These days, I feel like one of the few people who actually goes to a store to buy stuff. There are a number of reasons I don’t shop online.
Don’t get me wrong, there some things I purchase online. Books (many of my must-read books can’t be found in stores) and difficult to find parts (e.g., replacement parts for my ancient pool equipment) are two examples.
But on a weekly or monthly basis, I don’t shop online. Here are some of the pros and cons of online shopping.
Pros of Online Shopping
There are some advantages to online shopping.
See something you want. Select Add to Cart then checkout.
If you shopped with that company on-line before, they likely already have your credit card information and address on file.
Ability to compare costs
You can go to one site and see prices from multiple vendors.
Wider selection of items
If your local store does not carry what you want, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for online.
You don’t have to drive to pick it up
Many people are unable to drive or live in rural areas. Without online shopping and delivery, it would be a hardship for them to acquire the goods they need.
Cons of Online Shopping
There are also some cons to online shopping:
Wider selection of items
One year, my family asked for everyone’s online wish list. This was so overwhelming! In years past I could just tell someone what we needed. But to create an online list, I had to look through multiple pages of items, read the reviews, compare prices, and check whether there was a shipping cost before selecting the link. And I had to do this for every item on the list for all 5 of us in our house! As if the holidays weren’t stressful enough!
As I experienced when trying to create my family’s holiday list, too many options can increase stress and contribute to decision fatigue.
Waste of packaging
Shipping items results in more waste in the form of boxes, labels, tape, and packing materials. Most of which is used once, then spends decades in a landfill. Although I am admittedly far from living a zero-waste life, I would like to reduce the amount of waste I produce. Online shopping just adds to the problem.
Waste of gasoline
Rather than a truck making a large delivery to a store and the customers picking it up when they do their regular shopping, multiple delivery vans are driving throughout most cities nearly every hour of the day. This is not only a waste of a resource, but also contributes to pollution.
More cars on the road
The scores of delivery vehicles add to the traffic problem. More concerning to me is that they are constantly speeding through residential neighborhoods, especially during the holidays.
Who doesn’t know someone who has had a package stolen? An entire market for doorbell cameras has been capitalizing off the fact that many people have experienced one package (or more) taken right off their doorstep in broad daylight.
They are tracking us
I have to admit this freaked me out. One day I was looking at an item online from a device in my home. I put it in my virtual “shopping cart,” but decided not to buy it. The next day at work I was on a social media site and an ad appeared for the same exact product. That’s not a coincidence!
Since these sites know more about us than we do, they find sneaky ways to suggest products they think we’ll buy. It’s intentionally made super easy to click on something, add it to your virtual cart, use the credit card information that’s saved on file, and have it delivered to your door. I’ve known people who purchased items and forgot about them until the package showed up at their door.
I want to know what I’m buying
Reviews and product descriptions are great, but I want to be able to see and feel something before deciding whether to spend my hard-earned money on it. There have been many times I went to a store to buy something after reading about it online then after seeing it found that it wasn’t really right for me.
Difficult to return
This is a big one for me. I have received multiple items purchased online (mostly gifts) that I would have liked to have exchanged, but was unable to do so. My husband received a pair of shoes as a gift. He selected what he wanted online, but when they arrived they were too tight. He couldn’t return them, so now he’s spent the past 6 months walking around in shoes that pinch his feet.
My bestie recently ordered a Roku remote that doesn’t work. When she purchased the item, it said it was new. But it arrived packaged only in a plastic bag. Without the box, she is unable to return it. Worse yet, she is still without a remote!
The brick-and-mortar stores where I do most of my shopping have great return policies. I never worry whether I will be out of money or have to pay shipping fees if the product doesn’t fit my needs.
Yes, online shopping is convenient. But it is designed to benefit the retailers who want to separate you from your money and collect data on you. I want more control over what I buy, how it’s packaged, when I receive it, my ability to return it, and who’s driving through my neighborhood.
Online shopping makes it too easy to spend too much money on crap I didn’t know I wanted (yet their algorithms knew I would buy it).
What are your thoughts on online shopping?