The Pros and Cons of Online Shopping

In a time when most of us spend a significant amount of our day online, or at least on a computer, it’s no surprise that a significant amount of our spending happens online. From Amazon to Zappos, there’s a whole slew of companies dedicated to making online shopping easy and relatively cost effective.

Despite the massive amounts of online shopping, malls are still pretty packed on a Friday night. There are pros and cons to both forms of shopping. Here are a few:

Pros of Online Shopping:

1. Save Time & Hassle – Depending on where you live, if you need to go on a bombing mission shopping trip (get in, get what you came for, get out), then getting in the car driving to the mall, finding parking, and trekking to the store may take upwards of an hour. That can be a little ridiculous if you’re just looking for one particular item. Plus, if you’re like me, spending that much time just getting there makes me feel like I need to get more to compensate for the amount of time taken out of the day. Shop online and there’s no need to leave the house!

2. Save Gas – I know I don’t need to tell you how expensive gas is right now. It’s just cray and I start crying whenever I fill up our adorable Mazda 3 (his name is Karl). A significant amount of our monthly budget goes to the gas. Every cent is important and burning more gas for recreational shopping trips just isn’t an option on a weekly basis. Shopping online means no gas required.

3. The Ability To Price Compare – When you are shopping at a brick and mortar store, it’s easy to gravitate to the cutest pieces and just throw it onto your “getting this” pile. You’re in shopping mode and it’s easy not to put much thought into whether you could get it for a better price at different retailer. You’re here. It’s cute and relatively cheap and you’re going to get it. When you’re shopping online, you can simply search the item and find the best price instantly.

4. Shop 24/7 (and in your sweats!) This one is pretty self explanatory. I’ll be the first one to admit I’ve searched for cocktail dresses at midnight sporting a face mask and pajama shorts from 2004. Try doing THAT at your local Forever 21.

5. Unlimited Sizes/ OptionsA major downfall of traditional shopping is limited sizes and inventory. You’ve found the cutest top ever but they only have XXS. Damn. But online, for the most part, you can usually find garments or shoes in your size that are just as adorable. Yes, you may have to search a little harder, but online you can search in the comfort of your sweats on the couch.

6. No pushy sales people – “Hi, welcome to ____!” “Hi!! Everything on these racks is 70% off!” “Hi!!! That’s a cute top. Can I get a fitting room started for you?!” You know what I’m talking about. As much as I love talking to people, sometimes I just want to quietly peruse racks of clothing without being bombarded with questions or energetic greetings. I know that’s part of the job, and I’m sure it’s way old to them too. Definitely don’t mean to complain. If you want solitary shopping, opt for online.

7. Customer Reviews – I can’t even begin to talk about how thankful I am for customer reviews. Even when I’m shopping at a physical store, I’ll pull up the store’s website sometimes and look at reviews of something I’m about to buy. This has saved me a good pile of money and countless articles of clothing that I wouldn’t have gotten my money’s worth out of. This is a pro of both online and offline shopping!

Cons of Online Shopping:

1. Shipping Costs – It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of paying more for shipping than for the item itself. Many sites have free shipping if you spend a certain amount. Definitely check what the shipping cost is before you punch in your card number. It’s easy to let the excitement of something new cloud the judgment of your rational, budgeting self. If the shipping costs less than you would spend in gas going to a physical store, then you’ve definitely won.

2. Wait Time – Brick and mortar store shopping equals instant gratification. If you buy something online, you’ve got to wait at least a day or two to receive your new purchase in the mail. But in a world where instant gratification is pretty much the only kind, maybe we could all do with a little patience now and then. It will certainly make you appreciate the item that much more.

3. Can’t Try It On – This is probably my biggest con for online shopping. I’ve got short legs and a booty but a small waist. This combo doesn’t bode well for quick online purchases for pants, skirts, or even dresses. Plus, you can’t physically touch the fabrics to see if it’s worth the money, if it will hold up through multiple washes, or if the color you’re seeing on your computer screen is even accurate.

4. Hassle of Sending It Back – Many stores will give you a return label to ship the item back if it doesn’t fit or it isn’t what you thought it would be. I like those stores. If the retailer doesn’t provide a return label, sending something back can be a royal pain, especially when the ill-fitting issue could have been avoided if you had had the opportunity to try it on before purchasing in the first place.

5. Payment Insecurities – I’m not exactly sure how, but a few months ago my debit card information was stolen and some lucky dude in Idaho got an Amazon Prime subscription, vitamin supplements and ton of other fun things on my dime. Not cool. Be careful online, people.

6. Damage – When you’re dealing with shipping, damage is always a possibility. Obviously, there’s not a whole lot you can do to avoid it. Just hope that company you purchased from is accommodating, gives you your money back, and pays for return shipping.

7. No Cash Option – If you take cash out at the beginning of the month and set that aside for clothing and accessory purchases, it’s basically impossible to use that online. When you’re online shopping it’s incredibly easy to go over-budget with just a few clicks. If you know you are going to buy something online, check with the ol’ bank account first. Take less cash out to compensate for the card purchase.

Did I miss anything? Are you a professional online shopper? Give me the skinny.