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A Guide to the Benefits of Online Shopping

Do you remember the first time you heard the term “online shopping?” Although people have regularly purchased items online since the early 1990s, the growth in online shopping over the past 10 years has been staggering.  

Consider this:

If you were like the average Canadian in 2010, you would have spent $1,362.00 online. Much of that money would have gone to hotels, airline tickets and various forms of entertainment. Over the course of that year, our country spent roughly $15.3 billion online. We shouldn’t be surprised. At 45 hours each month, Canadians spend more time online than any other nation in the world.

Is online shopping for you? Just like anything in life, there are pros and cons to online shopping. In this article, we’ll help you navigate the positives and negatives so that you can make an informed decision.

The Pros of Shopping Online

  • It’s more convenient. There are many ways in which online shopping is more convenient than shopping the old fashioned way. It’s a lot quicker to fire up your web browser than it is to get in your car, drive to the mall, find a parking spot, fight your way through the crowds, find the item you want, stand in line at the cashier and finally pay. Another convenient perk is that online stores never close, so you can shop around the clock or when you are having a sleepless night.
  • Comparison shopping is easier. When you don’t know exactly what you need or want, comparison shopping is the only way to decide. This is much easier to do online, as there are many online stores that will allow you to compare products side-by-side, feature-by-feature.
  • More products are available online. It used to be that you could only buy specialized products and services online. Back in 1994, Amazon.com only sold books. Today, they sell millions of products and services to customers all around the world. In fact, we recently started selling and renting furnaces, air conditioners and water heaters online at www.reliancehomecomfort.com
  • No high-pressure sales tactics. When you are shopping for some higher priced items, sales pressure seems to come along with the territory. For instance, most people have a horror story or two to tell about being pressured by an over-zealous car salesman. When you are shopping online, you can take as long as you want and won’t have anybody looming over your shoulder ready to sell you something you don’t need.
  • You’ll get better prices. There are numerous reasons why you might get a better price online than you would buying something in person.

The Cons of Shopping Online

  • You can’t touch and feel what you are buying.  There are certain items it makes sense to see physically before buying. For instance, a virtual tour of a new house probably isn’t a good substitute for taking a look around in person. However, for many items this isn’t the case. You probably don’t have to see your new refrigerator, coffee maker or furnace before you buy it. Some retailers will even give you free return shipping just so you can try on that new pair of shoes before fully committing to the purchase.
  • You can’t talk to someone immediately, 24 hours a day. For some retailers, speaking to somebody over the phone is difficult. Others may only have people manning the phones during certain hours. This means there may be times when you have to wait in order to get your questions answered. However, many retailers will have “chat” enabled on their site so you can ask questions (sometimes 24 hours a day) right from your computer.
  • Privacy and security remain issues. You should always remain vigilant when dealing with sensitive financial information like your credit card, and this is especially true when shopping online. There are many steps you can take in order to keep your financial information and identity safe when shopping online, which we will provide in next month’s edition of the Better Home Newsletter (subscribe here).

What are your tips for making online shopping a fun and rewarding experience?


  1. www.moneyville.ca
  2. www.theglobeandmail.com
  3. www.statcan.gc.ca
  4. www.safeshopping.org
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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Cherylann Stachow September 12, 2012, 7:46 pm

    I have been a retailer for the past 17 years with an online store since 1999. I have written articles regarding being smart when shopping online. Some of the things i have spoken about is to ensure that the companies’ complete address and phone number is listed online so that you have contact information should you need to speak directly to the company.

    I also recommend that the customer ensure that they are using a secure server when entering their credit card information.

    And most importantly, take the time to read the companies’ policies and procedures regarding shipping, returns, etc, so that you can make an informed decision and be comfortable with your choice.

    I agree that shopping online is a convenient and reliable service. Customers need to be infomed to ensure they are getting what they want for their hard earned dollars.

    • Rich Massingham September 13, 2012, 9:35 am

      Great points Cherylann. Thanks very much for taking the time to provide your feedback. RM

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