The advantages and disadvantages of online shopping

Virtual shopping is a recent invention, yet it has already brought a lot of changes into our shopping habits. You do not have to worry about such things like opening hours or long queues anymore, purchasing any goods has never been easier. Still, I believe that online shopping has both considerable advantages and a number of serious disadvantages.

The Internet offers great possibilities for busy people who work overtime and do not usually have time to go to the shops. Moreover, it is a perfect option for the disabled who are not able to leave home and visit traditional stores. Besides, if you live at a small town where there are no big shops, supermarkets, well-stocked malls, you can still obtain almost anything you want. All you need is a computer connected to the Internet, sometimes also a bank account and a credit card.

Virtual shops are very convenient as they are open twenty-four hours a day – you can shop while sitting in an armchair in the middle of the night. Buying things is fast, as you do not have to wait for ages until the checkout assistant serves you. The items you buy are usually less expensive even when you include delivery costs because running a virtual shop is cheaper than a traditional one. Besides, online shop owners often keep their prices down, as they want to attract new customers. Finally, the Internet enables us not only to buy goods but also to pay our monthly bills such as electricity, gas or phone.

However, online shopping does have a number of drawbacks. First of all, you must be computer literate to be able to shop on the Internet. Ordering goods is very fast, but then you must wait up to a couple of weeks before they arrive at your doorstep. When you buy certain items in a foreign virtual shop, you might get a nasty surprise of having to pay a lot for the delivery. There is also a risk that once you start filling your virtual basket you may not be able to stop. In a traditional shop you usually know how much money you have in your wallet.

The most serious danger is having our online bank account broken into and that is why when I do the shopping online, I always choose the option of paying the postman for the delivery instead of paying by credit card. Buying things online we also run a risk of having them delivered very late. Besides, the package often contains a different order due to somebody’s mistake or the goods may arrive damaged.

I sometimes do the virtual shopping myself – I have bought a couple of books and several CDs in an e-bookshop. However, in my opinion nothing can replace the excitement of visiting a traditional bookshop, browsing around the shelves, looking at covers of books and flicking through their pages, or even being able to read a few pages before deciding to buy the book. When I visit a virtual bookshop, I miss an opportunity of talking to the shop owner and to other customers. It is rather difficult although not impossible to ask anyone for advice online. You can obtain all details regarding the book you are ordering, like the number of pages, its publisher, but you cannot actually look at the photographs or assess the quality of paper and the cover.
I cannot imagine buying clothes or beauty products on the Internet. To my mind, no words or pictures can fully describe the smell of perfume and let you know whether the trousers you are ordering really fit and suit you. Yet I know that such shops also exist and attract a number of customers.

All in all, I really enjoy the opportunity of being able to buying certain goods online at my convenience. Thanks to virtual bookshops I have purchased a few books and records, which were unavailable in my town. However, nothing will replace the personal touch of traditional shops and I hope that both types of shopping will peacefully coexist in the future.

Pytanie, jakie może zadać egzaminator:

  • Do you think that one day traditional shops will ­disappear?

I do not think that traditional shops will ever disappear. This will not happen even when everybody has Internet access at home and when online transactions become safe. Obviously, some busy businesspeople will choose to do the shopping online and it will remain the primary shopping option for disabled people. However, for the majority of customers, traditional shopping will remain one of their favourite free time activities, an opportunity to ‘shop till you drop’ with friends.