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Online Vs Traditional Shopping

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At one time, the only way to shop was to leave the comfort of your home and brave the long lines and inadequate parking of most retail stores. Nowadays, the Internet has revolutionized the way in which we spend our hard earned money. Thanks to the increasing sophistication of the 21st century, practically everything is virtually possible. Even a task as simple as shopping from the comfort of one's home has become a part of most people's daily lives.

The popularity of online retailing started around the mid to late 1990's. With its popularity and ever increasing support by retail consumers, helped fuel the debate which is still ongoing, about online vs. traditional shopping. In an article written by Ephraim Schwartz of InfoWorld stated, "In 2001, the last full year where numbers are available, the Department of Commerce broke out e-commerce sales vs. total U.S. sales, revealing that the $3.16 trillion retail industry saw a total of $37.7 billion in sales take place online--comprising 1.2% of the total" (Schwartz, 2002, ¶ 2). Although the disparity of total retail sales and online sales may seem large, the data represents a scale that continues to slide to decrease the gap. According to a recent report from ActivMedia Research, an e-business information company stated, "Consumers increased their online shopping by 46 percent in 2000 with sales for the year totaling $56 billion" (Scott, 2001, ¶ 1).

Despite the increase in online sales, it is way too early to waive the white flag for traditional shoppers. As long as retail stores open its doors, shoppers will find their way off the couch, out of the house, into their cars and merged between the traffic that leads to their favorite shopping venues. However, considering the fact consumers will have the final say as to how they prefer to spend their money, will determine whether online shopping will conquer all or if traditional shopping will survive the ever increasing onslaught of e-shopping.

In order to accept or reject the null hypothesis that e-commerce will eventually become the primary source for consumer shopping, we must first examine the pros and cons of online vs. traditional shopping. The evidence will either prove the economical growth in online shopping will eventually overtake traditional shopping or traditional shopping will continue to serve the primary needs of the consumer.

One of the main advantages of shopping online compared to traditional shopping is the convenience of shopping from the confines of your home. Without the need to drive somewhere in order to but something, relieves the frustrations of dealing withy traffic congestion and parking problems. With most traditional shoppers forgetting to include the price of gas used to travel to the store and in some cases parking fees, online shoppers are able to transfer those fees into making another purchase.

Many people find it uncomfortable to stand in long lines just to deal with unprofessional customer service representatives. Online shopping offers a sense of ease and comfort; as opposed to trudging all through the street hunting for the things you want. Struggling to make your way through crowds of jostling people and having to go from one store to another to find an item you may be looking for. Given this is one of the main problems of a traditional retail store, the limitation on the amount of choices per brand makes it difficult for the traditional shopper to receive the items they want. Instead, they prefer to browse the internet in their pajamas in search of the next great deal.

The next important factor of online vs. traditional shopping is the price. You will hardly ever find actual sales when you shop in a traditional retail store. Most shoppers already understand that the sale price is only the actual price that the store advertises each weekend just to entice customers. Whereas, when you shop online, you can hop from one store to another, comparing prices. Then when there is an actual drop in prices, you can actually benefit from it.

Another advantage of online shopping is the wide variety of stores to choose from. With the speed and sophistication of the internet, online shoppers have the ability to search and compare prices without walking from store to store. As in traditional shopping, when shoppers can't find what they are looking for, they are forced to travel from store to store until they find what they are searching for. With something as easy as a click of the mouse, online consumers will have the ability to find and purchase a product at the best available price.

Lastly, another advantage of online shopping is the ability of the consumer to shop at their convenience. Since the Internet does not have business hours, consumers can shop for the products they want twenty-four hours a day / seven days a week. Shops on the internet never shut down for the night, unlike traditional retail shops and shopping centers. This means that you never have to think about having to wait for the right time to shop, to avoid crowds. You can shop whenever you have time and feel the need to.

However, traditional shopping does have certain plus points. The ability of traditional shopping to reward the shopper with immediate gratification is the most important advantage. Shoppers that want an item right away can only be accomplished by getting it from a retail store. Seeing and touching a product is also an important factor for many people when they buy things. I for one cannot just buy an item based on how it looks on the rack but how it drapes on my frame. I cannot just purchase a vehicle by the look of the internet photos but by the response I receive from the test drive. Or even purchase a piece of property without personally seeing it. In all, traditional shopping gives the consumer the satisfaction and pleasure to feel confident in their purchase.

Another advantage to traditional shopping and disadvantage to online shopping is the insecurity in your personal credit card. With identity theft on the rise, has created a widespread panic in the consumer's ability to increase their payment options. No matter how secure a website claims to be, the reality is that it is relatively easy for



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