Top 10 Major Disadvantages of Online Shopping

The realm of shopping and retail has undergone a paradigm shift. Gone are the days when shopping was confined to visiting physical stores. Technology has taken such a drastic turn that all your purchases can be made without stepping outside your house. Be it apparel, lifestyle products, furniture, or just about anything – it can be ordered online within moments. Online payment platforms have further eased the entire process. While online shopping has made things easier for people all around the world, it isn’t perfect yet. Here are some major disadvantages associated with online shopping that make people think twice before doing so:

10. Lack of Tangibility

A fundamental aspect where online shopping lags behind physical shopping are tangibility. In the case of online shopping, it is not possible to touch and feel the product. It is very common for people to inspect, touch, and hold the product in their hands before they make the decision of buying it. However, online shopping lacks the possibility of being able to do so. While shopping from e-commerce and online stores, we need to solely rely on the images that have been provided. All the trust is put not in the product itself, but in its pictures and descriptions. Consequently, people are often dissuaded from buying their items online.

9. Absence of Interactivity

Online shopping involves no communication between the buyer and the seller. In the case of a physical store, sales assistants are always there to help customers. Be it picking out the right size, or getting advice for the right design, these sales assistants are often a great source of help. In essence, they make the shopping process easier. However, the lack of such assistance in the case of online shopping is a significant disadvantage. Shoppers have nobody to communicate with except virtual chatbots in some cases. This often makes the online shopping process slightly difficult and drab.

8. Time-taking deliveries

While online shopping makes things simpler through the physical convenience it offers, receiving the product can often be a hassle. Individuals often need to wait for multiple days until their purchased items reach them. Moreover, deliveries often don’t take place on weekends, which adds to the waiting time. Logistical issues like delay in transit time, improper handling of goods, and unforeseen events can make matters worse. People who purchase something online with an urgent need are unable to receive it on time. Thus, long delivery periods is a serious disadvantage of online shopping which needs to be solved.

7. Fixed Prices & Lack of Flexibility

The absence of a human element makes online shopping very rigid. Prices that flash on mobile and desktop screens are more often than not fixed. It is not possible for shoppers to negotiate in any manner. However, in the case of non-branded physical stores, relationships matter a lot. Regular customers are often given discounts and freebies for their loyalty. Sometimes, they can even negotiate with the seller and bargain for a lower price. Such flexibility is unavailable in the case of online shopping. There, the seller commands the price and we consumers have no option but to go with it.

6. No Real Shopping Experience

Shopping online is a very bland and straightforward process. It barely requires effort and individuals only have to scroll through catalogs and images to choose what they want. Physical shopping is, however, an entire experience in itself. Many individuals indulge in excessive shopping to drive away stress or boost their morale because it makes them feel good. After hours and hours of checking multiple stores, it feels great to go back home with hands that are filled with shopping bags. It gives a real feeling to the shopping experience and provides the happiness of having done something fun and self-fulfilling. Online shopping is unable to replicate this experience.

5. Extra costs and fees

It is very common nowadays to see multiple online banners and ads that provide discounts. However, these discounts are quite often misleading. Some e-commerce retailers use these sales promotion techniques to disguise their high shipping and handling costs. They do this so that the discount and shipping costs offset each other, thereby bringing the product price back to its initial level. Thus, a customer might be fooled into thinking of receiving a discount, but actually might end up paying the same amount he or she otherwise would.

4. Size Issues & Misfits

Shopping in a retail outlet is considered so hassle-free because people can easily try out clothes in trial rooms and purchase the perfect sizes. However, this isn’t possible in the case of online shopping. People must know their exact sizes while buying online. Even though there are size charts to guide shoppers, they don’t provide the assurance that trying the actual product does. Moreover, varying online stores have varying fittings which make things even more complicated. Often, the right size produces the wrong fit and the product has to be returned.

3. Problematic Returns Processes

If you’ve received the exact product that you saw online and expected to receive, that’s great. However, if not, then God help you. For most e-commerce companies, the returns process is quite complicated. Various formalities have to be fulfilled and it can take a long while before you can get an alternate product or cashback. Nowadays, social media handles such as Twitter and Facebook are filled with angry consumers ranting about bad shopping experiences. Thus, individuals need to be very careful while making any purchases online. Once ordered, returning can be very frustrating.

2. Lack of social experience

Above all, shopping is supposed to be a fun activity. When friends or family members go out shopping, they expect to have an entire day out that is filled with visiting multiple stores and malls, walking around, and eating out. Online shopping misses out on all of those. When you go out shopping with your friends or your family, they can guide you as to what you should purchase and provide their feedback. You can also seek their reviews of products that they might have already bought. However, online platforms lack a personal touch when it comes to the collective and participatory nature of physical shopping.

1. Possibility of Fraud

Looks can often be deceiving. You might order something online and end up receiving something that is entirely different. There have been numerous cases where people have received completely different products from what they ordered. As a result, it is very important to have trust in the e-commerce company you shop from and verify its authenticity. It is even possible for online stores to steal your credit/debit card information if you choose to pay via that medium. Thus, you must exercise caution while satisfying your demands by shopping online. The cons of online shopping can at times, considerably exceed the pros.

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Faraz Rizvi