Online purchases are going to increase tremendously in the next few years as access to the web becomes ubiquitous via smartphones, tablets and traditional desktop systems. Recent demographic studies show that online purchases is not for Generation Xers only. It’s also popular among middle-age groups, the 35 to 45 and 45 to 55 year old groups.
When we think of e-commerce, we often associate it with the largest online retailers like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. These are companies that primarily sell online goods and services over the internet and via the browser. The online shops are often called e-shop, e-store, web-shop, web-store, online store, online storefront, or virtual store.
While Amazon tend to sell everything, others online stores such as Home Depot, Best Buy, Frys, Bed Bath and Beyond are much more specialized. Home Depot sells things you normally find in a hardware store. Frys and Best Buy sells electronics. Meanwhile, Bed Bath and Beyond sells only household items.
If that wasn’t specialized enough, you’ll find just about anything you want online. If you want kites, there’s Into The Wind. If you want costumes, there’s Pure Costumes. If you want jewelry, Fusion Beads has quite a variety of beads online.
The shopping workflow typically starts with consumers browsing the virtual storefront. They see a product that they want, and they add it to their online shopping cart. The shopping carts are usually powered by some shopping cart software installed in the storefront. Once the consumer is done shopping, the checkout process can then begin. Products are sometimes shipped for free, or for a nominal or standard fixed fee.
Online shoppers usually pay via credit card or a Paypal account. Others stores also accept more traditional types of payment methods such as checks, money orders, cash on delivery or COD, debit cards, even Bitcoins.
One of the advantages of shopping online is convenience. It’s perfect for buying products that you’re already familiar with, and you’re comfortable with, ordering it online with actually seeing it or trying it out. Another advantage is online reviews. You can read about a product and how it’s rated by others who’ve purchased it. Another advantage is price. Sometimes online prices are cheaper, plus most of the times there are no sales taxes to deal with.
There are disadvantages as well. Make sure you’re shopping with a reputable store. Make sure the online stores are practicing safe and secure policies.
Online purchases are only going to accelerate in the future, as better methods and ways to shop online will become a reality.