- Personal Finance
10 Great Reasons to Shop Online
Consumers have embraced online shopping like never before. This year, shoppers plan to spend as much online as in stores according to a Deloitte 2016 shopper survey. Online sales for the 2016 holiday season are forecasted to increase between 17 and 19 percent between November 2016 and January 2017, reaching 96 to 98 billion dollars in sales.1
Online stores cannot replicate the the touch and feel provided by retail stores but there are many undeniable advantages to online shopping. Here are ten great reasons why consumers often choose to shop online.
1.) Online Shopping "Holidays"
Brick and mortar stores have Black Friday along with many other holidays throughout the year in which to promote their offerings and increase their sales dollars. Online shopping has several unique sales opportunities including Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving Day, and Green Monday. Throughout the year, online shoppers will find many other holidays or special days where prices are reduced.
- Cyber Monday
This day falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend when online retailers offer incredible savings similar and sometimes greater than their Black Friday offers. Free shipping on Cyber Monday is almost a guarantee.
- Thanksgiving Day
Online sales for 2015 Thanksgiving Day grew 25 percent compared to last year, according to an Adobe Systems Inc. shopping study. Not surprisingly, the most popular products purchased on Thanksgiving included Star Wars and Lego toys, iPads, Xbox and PlayStations.2
- Green Monday
Ebay actually coined this term as the best online shopping day in December, typically the second Monday in December. Retail websites are promoting their anticipated savings on this day.
- All Other "Holidays" or "Special Days"
Just like brick and mortar stores, online retailers take advantage of holidays throughout the year to promote their goods. You will also find other special days were sales are offered to online shoppers, for instance, eyeslipsface.com (Elf) offers "Cyber Coffee Break" sales that might be good for just a few hours. To find out about these sales events, you would need to subscribe to the online retailer's e-mail notifications. See more on that below.
Most Visited Retailer Websites on Black Friday
2.) Save Money
Outside of the typical holiday savings and sales, there are many ways to save making purchases online. Here are five ways you will save money:
- Online Coupons
Website such as Reatailmenot.com, offer online “coupon codes” year round. There are many other savings websites out there. A good way to find these coupon codes it to simply use Google to search for a code. Simply type “(Name of online retailer) coupon code” and see the list of possibilities. A common code you will find is for free shipping but you’ll also see percentage discounts or free gifts. Often these offers can be combined but simply typing in the coupon codes one at a time on the online retail website during checkout.
- Online Only Savings
Many online retailers offer deeper discounts for their online shoppers compared to their brick and mortar shoppers. Often you’ll see a retail savings of a certain percentage across stores and online but online customers will garner an extra 10 percent or more off sale prices.
- Give & Get
It’s simple, give your e-mail address to an online retailer by signing up for e-mail communications and you will get an extra percentage or dollars off a next purchase. If you do not want to provide your personal e-mail address, set up an e-mail account just for this purpose.
- Flash Sales
Many online stores also market “flash sales” good for just an afternoon or maybe 24 hours. They communicate this via e-mail so be sure to check the e-mail communications you sign up for if you want these savings.
You will save on gas expense and possible parking fees by shopping online.
3.) Super-Sized Selection
Imagine an entire mall worth of merchandise at your keyboard fingertips. Now multiply that by a thousand, and then again by another thousand, and again and again. You get the picture. Compared to brick and mortar stores, online stores are far less likely to be out of stock of any one item and almost always offer a much larger variety of merchandise.
4.) Unique GIfts
Since online shopping includes enormous selection and variety, unique gifts are easy finds. Here are just a few examples:
This members-only retailer expands its unique warehouse offerings online with products from fresh-cut Christmas trees to commissioned pet portraits to sporting event tickets. You’ll also find high-end luxury products such as caviar and one-of-a-kind diamond jewelry, priced in the hundreds of thousands.
Find gifts that as the name implies, are not common. Artist’s stories are featured and handmade goods are highlighted. You can even gain some “uncommon knowledge” or fun facts about particular items while you shop. For instance (from the Uncommon Goods website), did you know that early candles were often eaten rather than burned?
Founders, Harry and David, began selling their “Royal Riviera” pears in 1934, by mail order. Today, and now selling primarily online, Harry & David offers unique gift baskets filled with pears and all kinds of gourmet foods, wines, and flowers.
This online only retailer carries unique gifts and offers personalization. For example, create personalized wall art with family names, monograms, and unique sayings.
Etsy links a global community of sellers to buyers in a craft fair format. Unique and often handmade products in categories from handmade jewelry to original artwork to vintage items that must be a minimum of 20 years old.
5.) Free Shipping
Free shipping is almost standard during the online holiday shopping season, and often year round. If you have out-of-town friends and family, you can ship gifts purchased online to them at no expense and many offer gift-wrapping free or for a small charge. If the website does not advertise free shipping on the front page, you can use Google to try to find a coupon code by typing “(Name of online retailer) free shipping coupon code”.
6.) Easy Returns (Mostly)
Online retailers have made returning merchandise easier than ever. Most retailers that have both a physical store and an online store allow you to return online purchased merchandise to the store. Here are a few examples of great return policies:
- Costco, known for their generous return policy, allows you to return online purchases at any warehouse but if that is not practical (some things are extra large), they will pay for your return, pick it up if need be, plus they will refund any shipping fee you may have paid at purchase time.
- Zappos, an online only retailer, allows returns for one year after purchase and pays for your return shipping with a printable pre-paid return label. If you happen to make your purchase on February 29th, Leap Day, you have until the next Leap Day to return the merchandise - that's four years!
- Gap and its family of companies (Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, Athleta) offer free returns with easily downloadable pre-paid shipping labels. You can also make returns at any of its brick and mortar stores.
A word of caution, not all return policies are as simple or generous. This is true for both physical retail stores and online stores. Always check the return policy before making a purchase. A link to this information can typically be found at the bottom of the main website page.
7.) Stay Healthy
Fighting crowds, especially at the holiday time, can be aggravating but can also be bad for your health. Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langon states: 3
Anywhere people gather is filled with bacteria and viruses, and a crowded shopping mall is a perfect example.
A variety of viruses and bacteria, including E. coli, can be found on surfaces at shopping centers. Topping the list are:
- Escalator handrails
- Food court tables
- Restroom sinks
Steer clear of these viruses and bacteria by staying home and doing your shopping online! If you do venture out to stores, or any public place, health experts advise to wash hands often and avoid touching your face.
8.) Less Stress
Long lines and traffic top the list of the biggest retail store shopping inhibitors for consumers, especially at holiday time, according to the Deloitte Holiday Survey 2014. Other gripes that made the list include merchandise not carried, slow checkout, lack of parking, and limited or unknowledgeable sales associates. Online stores offer mostly hassle-free shopping from the comfort of your own home.
Holiday shopping often results in organizational challenges trying to keep track of gifts purchased and receipts. Online retailers typically e-mail receiptsto you so you can simply put them in an e-mail folder marked receipts or even organize receipts by gift recipient. This makes it easy to check against a shopping or gift list and retain for future use. Online retailers usually e-mail you the shipping status of your order that you can track to see when it will arrive at your home, office, or the gift receiver. You can also bookmark your favorite online shopping websites or savings websites for future shopping.
10.) Save Time
When you shop online, you have the whole store to yourself. There are no lines at the register, no filled parking lots, no driving to the store in traffic, no walking all through the aisles trying to locate a specific product.
If you are buying gifts for out-of-town friends and family, no time is spent finding boxes, packing boxes, and bringing the boxes to the post office. Think of all the time you will save and as the saying goes, time is money.
How Often Do You Make Online Purchases?
1Sides, Rod. "2016 Deloitte Holiday Survey Ringing in the Retail." DU Press. Deloitte University Press, 25 Oct. 2016. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.
2Wattles, Jackie, Melanie Hicken, and Aaron Smith. "Shoppers Descend on Black Friday Deals." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 27 Nov. 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
3Dineen, Cari Wira. "The 8 Germiest Places in the Mall." CNN. Cable News Network, 26 Nov. 2011. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/25/health/germiest-places-mall/>.
Cheng, Andria. "The Best Day to Shop Online Is Not Cyber Monday."MarketWatch. N.p., 7 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.marketwatch.com/story/thanksgiving-is-the-best-day-to-shop-online-2014-11-06>.
"Black Friday Yearly Spending." Statistic Brain RSS. National Retail Federation, 13 July 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. <http://www.statisticbrain.com/black-friday-yearly-spending/>.
Collins, Sheila. "Insights on Retailer, Consumer Intensions for Holiday 2014." National Retail Federation, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <https%3A%2F%2Fnrf.com%2Fnews%2Finsights-retailer-consumer-intentions-holiday-2014>.
"Accenture Newsroom: U.S. Consumers Plan to Increase Holiday Spending This Year, Supported by Greater Optimism about Personal Finances, Accenture Study Finds." Accenture Newsroom: U.S. Consumers Plan to Increase Holiday Spending This Year, Supported by Greater Optimism about Personal Finances, Accenture Study Finds. Accenture, 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://newsroom.accenture.com/news/us-consumers-plan-to-increase-holiday-spending-this-year-supported-by-greater-optimism-about-personal-finances-accenture-study-finds.htm>.
Kenney Paul, Alison, Rod Sides, and Susan K. Hogan. "Deloitte’s 2014 Annual Holiday Survey: Making a List, Clicking It Twice." Deloitte University Press. N.p., 28 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://dupress.com/articles/holiday-retail-sales-2014/>.