General Question

MilkyWay's avatar

Online shopping vs Traditional shopping?

Asked by MilkyWay (13723points) March 16th, 2012

What method do you think is best? For what reasons? Please do state the reasons for your preferance, it’s for a survey.
Thanks in advance :)

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39 Answers

chyna's avatar

I ordered a fan from on line on Wednesday. I received it on my porch this morning. I didn’t have to carry it up the 12 steps to my house. So I guess my answer would be for ease of getting packages home.

john65pennington's avatar

Online shopping is a gamble. A gamble that you will receive the product you ordered and in good shape. A gamble that a hacker does not steal your credit card information and use the information for his own persoanl gain.

In store shopping has built-in safety measure. You can select and inspect the product, before purchasing. Your credit purchases are much safer. Cyberspace and hackers are left out of the picture, for the most part. And, its much easier to return a defective product purchase in person, rather than paying the postage and hassle of returning an item bought online.

Online purchasing is a two-way gamble.

Feel lucky?

Blackberry's avatar

They’re both equally beneficial. It’s not either/or.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Online shopping gives you a huge market place and access to all kinds of things that may not be available locally. Traditional shopping allows you to visually inspect the product, test it for fit, durability, etc. But you’re limited to what’s available in the area.

tom_g's avatar

Online shopping provides you with:
– the best prices (in most cases – significantly cheaper than the in-store prices)
– the shortest lines
– the ability to easily read reviews while you are shopping (sure, smartphones allow this now as well in store, but not as seamless)
– no need to drive somewhere
– no need to drive to another location or store because something is out of stock

In-store give you:
– for some items, you might need to actually try on or touch the item you are buying
– ummm…..???? that’s it.

Regarding risk: credit purchases are not necessarily safer at a brick and mortar store or a restaurant. In fact, the only real breach that affected me was shopping at my local Hannaford (supermarket). They had a breach and I ended up having to get a whole new credit card number.

Finding a reputable online business is pretty easy. And if you don’t mind supporting a monster like Amazon, you’ll often find the best prices. I have Amazon Prime, so I get free 2-day shipping (and can upgrade to overnight for $3.99). Other than groceries and a once-every-year clothing restocking trip, I buy everything online.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Definitely online where possible. I hate shopping so if I can find something quickly on line I will always choose that option.

Aethelwine's avatar

I saved time, wear and tear on my car and avoided large crowds by doing the majority of my Christmas shopping online. The nearest town for shopping is 17 miles from our home. I saved a couple gallons of gasoline.

gambitking's avatar

I think this REALLY depends heavily on what you’re shopping for. Is there any way we can get a hint on that, MilkyWay? – I’ll wait a bit and throw in my two cents either way later. But hopefully you can shed some light on that.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I much prefer online shopping, but there is one big drawback: having your credit card information hijacked. That has happened to me twice, the last time when someone in Luxembourg ( of all places! ) bought $300 worth of iTunes with it. My account is insured for losses such as that one, but the sheer aggravation of having to cancel your credit card, wait for a new one, and changing over everything you had bought as a continuing expense is enough to make me want to beat the ever-lovin crap out of the person who stold it! Grrrrr!

gambitking's avatar

@CaptainHarley – I think that’s actually a minor concern. I’ve had my credit card hijacked at brick-and-mortar stores too. You just never know with the tech out there these days. It’s a risk all the time, everywhere.

At least lots of sites follow compliance and security policies, and the rest of the responsibility lies on the user’s end (using secure networks, being smart about where they shop and who they give the info too, ensuring their PC is clean and free of spyware, etc).

The risk of stolen CC info just isn’t strong enough compared to other factors, IMO for these reasons.

chyna's avatar

A restaurant near me had a scam going where the employees stole the credit/debit card numbers and actually had the 3 or 4 digits from the back of the card and were able to steal thousands of dollars worth of merchandise on line by doing this. So I don’t see that shopping on line is more or less safe. If there is a way to scam someone out of their credit card, it can and will be done.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I know that objectively it’s not all that often, but it’s so damned irritating and personal! Grrrr!

JLeslie's avatar

I only buy online when I am sure of what I am buying. I hate the idea of having to return something I buy online. My husband often buys car parts and accessories online. Well, actually he has bought cars online, that is a gamble obviously.

But, I just buy sports bras I am already familiar with, I once bought an accessory to a shade canopy I own, and a few things for the house from a vendor I trust, and that might be it? For clothing I prefer to try on, touch and feel the fabric, so online is not much of a draw for me in that realm. It does depend what I am shopping for whether I will consider online, and if the items are available in stores.

ragingloli's avatar

Fast, convenient and almost always cheaper.
As for credit card fraud, I do not even have a credit card, I only use Paypal.

geeky_mama's avatar

I vastly prefer online shopping. I am a very happy Amazon Prime member and probably 80% of our discretionary spending is done online.

The only exception I find for Bricks & Mortar vs. Online is with grocery shopping, and clothing.

For a time we did get our groceries via an online (delivery) grocery. I never ran into quality problems – and their produce was always as good or better than I myself would pick out in the store.. but the selection overall was a bit constrained and ultimately the cost was too high. (However, once the delivery fee is = to my gas/time spent, we have a valid reason to go back.. As gas reaches $5/gallon in our part of the country IF they don’t raise the fee..the cost would be lower to have delivery groceries again.)

Clothing/Shoes – I do buy some online (mainly shoes), but only for those things where I am already certain of fit (e.g. I tried on the same brand/size/style in the store and later purchased online)—and moreover our family tends to get nearly all our clothing from thrift stores (e.g. Goodwill) we do the bulk of our clothing purchases in the actual store as opposed to online.

Our reasons for buying online are:
– tend to be less expensive than buying in department stores/bricks & mortar retailers
– I’m a tactical shopper—I know what brands I like and I’ve researched them, I do my research online shopping suits my shopping behavior.
– I shop when it’s convenient to me – which may be when the stores are closed late at night or when I’m in my PJs and not fit for going out in public
– I really like getting items delivered to me.
– Many of the items my family uses are not readily available at local stores (e.g. our Japanese bath salts which we use for our ofuro)
– Maybe I’m anti-social..but anytime I don’t have to get in my car and deal with John Q. Public—it’s worth something to me. Not having to leave the comfort of my home and having an item come to me is certainly worth paying a bit more (even though it tends to be that I pay less when I buy online).

As for security—I’ve had my credit card information stolen 2X in my lifetime. Once Amex, once Discover Card. In BOTH cases it happened in a physical store/location – not due to online transactions.
Once was actually a dishonest Macy’s store employee who kept my Discover card number and used it to ring transactions for herself at a store she moved to (easy to catch her because she rang them at a store in Ohio that I’d never shopped in and I don’t live in Ohio), the other was during international travel and Amex said the thief jotted down the card numbers as the card was being handed to a clerk at the hotel check-in desk.

I have never (after many many years and thousands upon thousands of varied online transactions) had any worries about online security..nor have I ever had a negative experience (yet).
I’m careful to only submit payment details to legitimate businesses online with secure payment sites (e.g. https) – beyond taking that one common sense step I’ve never had a worry or concern.

On a side note – yesterday I was in a shopping mall helping my daughter sell Girl Scout cookies when an elderly man sat down with a sandwich and proceeded to have a VERY loud cell phone conversation where he repeatedly gave his full credit card number and the PIN number (security number) – not just once, but several times. It was far too easy for me to overhear his card number and I looked around and there were several other people within earshot, too. I almost said something to him..because that just struck me as reckless…but he looked really crabby so I avoided him.

ragingloli's avatar

Also and advantage is that if you know that the prices online are significantly cheaper than in your local shops, you can use that as leverage for price negotiations.

Akua's avatar

I do MOST of my shopping online. Mostly, and Why, because the prices are comparably cheaper, I hate crowds, standing on long lines, draining my gas tank, looking for parking and dealing with rude sales people. I usually buy things I know I will like or will fit me. If I buy shoes, I buy from or because they have free return policies (no shipping or handling coming or going back) or I can return the item to the nearest store. In most cases just to be sure I find an item I want at the nearest store, try it on and if I like it, go home and order it online. Simple. Hubby orders car parts regualrly online and the only time I go to buy something at an actual store is if I have no clue what it looks like up close or what size to get. And I always make sure the site is secured in case of hacking. I also pay for all purchases through either Paypal or an a debit account JUST for shopping online and I only keep enough money in that account for what I just purchased.

Aethelwine's avatar

I was thinking about this some more because I was just talking to my husband about where we should purchase the lawn mower that we need to buy this year. It really depends what I’m buying if I’m going to choose online or traditional shopping. We do have limited shopping in the nearest town (3 miles from the farmhouse we live in). We are going to purchase our mower from the Ace Hardware in town instead of traveling to the larger town 17 miles from us that has more options. We want to support our community by making our purchase here.

jca's avatar

I buy a lot online – better selection and easier for price comparisons, rather then driving from store to store looking for something specific or trying to compare prices. I get a lot from Amazon, great selection. Whenever and whatever I buy online, I try to take advantage of free shipping deals. Amazon has $25 minimum (unless you have Prime, which I don’t), many other stores have a minimum purchase for free shipping, and so I hate paying shipping and have no problem meeting the minimum.

If I know what I want, I may do online. Clothes I will buy online if I know and trust the brand, like Lands End. Otherwise, I want to feel the clothes, see the quality by touching and looking.

If I want to browse the clearance racks of a department store, that can be done online but also you never know what you’ll find in the actual store, so I take some time and shop that way. I also like looking at “junk” like Christmas Tree Shops, once in a while, so for me, I have to enter the store.

Today I am going to purchase some paper punches from Joann Fabrics and Crafts. I have some coupons from the internet. I can go to the store, or I can do online. The items themselves are pretty cut and dried – I may go to the store and see what I can get there and then anything they don’t have I may supplement by buying online. It’s a real dilemma and I have the rest of the work day to think about it LOL!

Akua's avatar

@jonsblond that makes good sense. We just moved to a small village last month and supporting our local community is numero uno. Unfortunately, we don’t even have a supermarket in this village let alone any place to shop so even when we do traditional shopping we have to drive to the nearest town.The biggest store in the village is the local hardware store

MilkyWay's avatar

@gambitking Well, it doesn’t state which products, just shopping in general.

flutherother's avatar

I like buying online as I can compare products, check prices and read reviews. It is simple and straightforward and quick. With more expensive items I would do research online and then buy from a local store.

jca's avatar

Today at work I did $100 worth of stuff online at Joann Fabrics and Crafts (stuff was on sale, and then I had 20% off coupon on top of it). After work, I stopped at the Joann store to see what they had on clearance, and I found some stuff that was on clearance in the store, but not on the site. Sometimes the sites have stuff that’s not on clearance at the store, and vice versa. It pays to try both.

rooeytoo's avatar

Yep I like online shopping. Not so much now because I am back in civilization and there are all sorts of shops close by.

But let us look at the downside, online shopping is putting your local stores out of business. Along with the closing of your local stores goes a lot of jobs. I have heard how many hate Walmart because it puts the little business guy at a disadvantage, online shopping does the same. Someone who is paying rent and hiring local people etc. almost has to charge more than someone who has a warehouse (with no light, heating or cooling unless someone is in there picking an order) or a garage full of merchandise.

When possible, I do try to buy local. I get to see what I am buying, try it on if it is clothing, have recourse if it does not perform as promised, and hopefully good human face to face service.

The world is changing, sometimes I’m just not sure which direction it is headed.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thank you everyone, your answers have helped out a lot! :D

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Rops's avatar

Though both have some advantage and disadvantage but at this point of time I would prefer online shopping because I rarely get time to do outdoor shopping as my busy time schedule doesn’t permit me. Online shopping gives me the flexibility to shop at anytime from anywhere. Also one can purchase products at much cheaper price. They provide easy shopping service through debit card, credit card or cash on delivery. And also they provide good customer service like free home delivery and complaint queries.

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soniasinghal's avatar

I like online shopping. Online shopping gives you a wide range of brands.You can choose any brand or design at your home easily and save your time or money. We know that online shopping is much faster or some time cheaper than traditional shopping.

aditiji's avatar

Due to lack of time and saving money online shopping is my first choice. Online shopping is sometime cheaper but more convenient than traditional shopping. online shopping provides a wide range of products and brand at single place by which you can shop anything easily and quickly then traditional shopping.

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