Online shopping has exploded during the last few decades. In 2019 alone, e-commerce sales reached a dizzying $602 billion in the US, for a total of $3,763 billion worldwide. These numbers don’t even include sales of items not typically purchased online, such as food, fuel products, and the like.
It is important to note that online shopping is not ideal for every situation. Most people still choose to buy large ticket items from a brick-and-mortar shop. The same goes for perishable items or products that customers would like to touch, taste, smell, or try on before purchasing.
However, it cannot be ignored that online shopping provides many conveniences and is absolutely here to stay. What is driving this massive trend to shop online instead of visiting a physical store? Why are more entrepreneurs and major brands choosing to become online merchants?
Let our MENA-based “buy now, pay later” payment platform providers share their insights on what makes e-commerce and online shopping a tantalizing prospect for both consumers and businesses alike.
Physical stores have several limits, the more important one being shelf space. Even when making the most of each inch, there are only so many items that can fit inside a store without making the space appear overwhelming. Plus, there is the challenge of bringing the attention of the consumer to every single item in the shop.
There is also the issue of reach. Customers have to be physically in the shop to buy. As such, the store has to be in close proximity to its target customers. People rarely travel far for small items.
With physical stores, consumers will only have access to things that are available in their area. The same cannot be said of online stores.
Online stores put the world within your reach. As long as you can pay for the item and the shipping fees involved, the location of the store and the type of item no longer matters. The store could be based in Dubai while the item is shipped from Brazil.
For customers, this allows them access to virtually any product, as long they can connect to the Internet. Brands and companies, both big and small, also benefit from this exchange. With the help of technology, they can reach and grow their markets exponentially.
Access to unbiased information
The Internet is rich in helpful information. You can derive a wealth of data from a few quick searches. Other than the product specifications and the price, one of the details that many buyers look for is the product review because it can provide valuable information on something they are thinking about buying.
Brands do whatever it takes to present their products or services in a good light. Much of what you see or hear on TV, radio, or online is carefully selected to create a positive image. Consumers want something that gives a different perspective, and this is where reviews from actual customers come in.
It is difficult to know what the product can really do and how it performs when subjected to real-life conditions and situations. Product reviews provide this insight. Ideally created by actual users, a review shows potential buyers what to expect in terms of the delivery, performance, quality of the customer service, and more.
Brands may sometimes feature testimonials on their adverts or website. Taken with a grain of salt, consumers can learn as much as they can about the company and the product or service itself from the testimonials, regardless of the source.
Whether you want to find the best prices or deals, or you simply want to compare features between different products, online shopping makes it easy. No need to walk between store aisles, drive around the city, or spend hours jumping from one shop to another. When you shop online, you can check out the same product from many different stores, whether locally or internationally, in a few clicks.
From the comforts of your home or the office, you can search and compare features, quality reviews, delivery terms, prices, customer service levels, and much more. The online shopping arena is a haven for bargain shoppers and people looking for the best deals.
Going to a store or mall is exhausting in a variety of ways. First, you have to find a way to get there and back. On top of that, you need to carry all of your purchases.
It can get exhausting if you have a lot of items, bags, or boxes in tow. Even if you drive around in a car, there is still the physical aspect to shopping in-store. Online shopping does away with all that.
When you buy items online, you have the option of determining how you want to pay. Depending on the shop, you could pay using online payment methods, your debit or credit card, bank transfers, or even cash on delivery. With so many options, you can choose one that suits you best.
More importantly, there is the option of specifying where you want to have the items delivered. In most cases, people have their purchases delivered to their home or office. But those are not the only options.
Perhaps you want to buy a gift for your relatives or friends on the other side of the country, or even the globe. When purchasing from international shops, you can have the items delivered straight to your recipient’s doorstep.
You don’t need to browse through physical store shelves, carry your purchases home, drive to the recipient’s place or pay for delivery. By buying online, you can pick a gift and have it shipped in just a few clicks. No sweat.
Privacy and ease
Not all people are comfortable shopping in public. Some people feel shy about interacting with store personnel or other shoppers. Physical challenges can also make it difficult for some people to browse through shops, reach up shelves, try on clothes, or lug their shopping bags around.
In some cases, you may be intending to purchase an item that requires a degree of discretion. You may want your purchased item to be delivered to you without anyone else (like the delivery personnel, your neighbors, or the recipient of your gift who lives in the same house) identifying what you bought.
With online shopping, there is privacy. Nobody else will know what you ordered — not your relatives, friends, or neighbors, or random strangers. You can purchase any item without any reservations.
And of course, paying for your purchases is convenient; you just need to choose your preferred mode of payment and you’re good to go. What’s more, if you shop at “buy now, pay later” stores, you can take advantage of a more flexible payment option at zero interest, and enjoy your shopping experience even more.
Given the many benefits, it’s no wonder why online shopping continues to be an irresistible option for many businesses and customers alike. If you have never done it before, why not try it out and give yourself an exhilarating retail experience?
Anuscha Iqbal is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spotii, a tech-enabled payments platform where anyone in the UAE can Shop Now and Pay Later with absolutely zero interest or cost. The company’s mission is to empower a generation to enjoy more today what they will love forever through technology, trust and inclusion.