Buying Online Tip #1: Advantages and Disadvantages

Buying OnlineMany people don’t realize all the advantages of buying online, but I assure you that they are huge. I’ve been getting more and more stuff off the internet over the past couple of years, and absolutely love it. It saves me money, and is a lot less stressful than buying in retail stores. Once you start, you’ll never go back. The biggest advantage exists for a simple reason: electronic retailers (E-Tailers) are competing on a much bigger market than your local stores are. You’ve probably noticed that over time, all the smaller computer shops or widget shops have been closing down only to be replaced by larger retailers. This can create economies of scale (basically the advantages of moving larger volumes, thus making things cheaper) but also takes competition out of the picture. It’s definitely a good deal for the big guys, but what about for you? Probably not so great. There are also lots of fears about using the net to get your shopping done, some founded but most not. Alright, check it out.

First, online competition is truly fierce because anyone can compete and you’ve got to be the best to sell. This translates into big advantages for the buyers at the expense of seller margins. The advantages are of course that the middle man is cut out. I’ve got a friend who works in a smaller local retail store, and it is pretty common to see markups on things like accessories and cables of 500% or more. That just won’t fly on the internet. The cool thing is that a lot of sellers online for smaller goods and accessories are actually based in Hong Kong, so you actually are getting stuff straight from distributors pretty often. You win again.

There is also often a misconception that when you buy stuff on Ebay or anywhere on the internet, you usually get used stuff. That’s just not true, while you can find used goods online, most are new. It really is as simple as that, just believe it.

The next big advantage is that you get significantly more selection on the internet. When you shop on the web, you’ll quickly find that you get to choose from goods from what is basically a massive set of international stores. Think of it as being able to go to a store in Montreal then comparison shopping with another shop in California, and then with yet another in Hong Kong. The internet really can be that powerful and can put the world at your fingertips.

There is also the obvious fact that you don’t have to run around to find what you want or listen to big box local stores telling you that they don’t carry something or it is out of stock it needs to be ordered. Shopping online is pretty painless and will get you what you want when you want.

Now some fears are of course justified – it’s not all fun and games. Shipping items should be your biggest concern when buying from E-Tailers. Shipping costs also have to be factored in and you’ll probably often find that for physically larger items, it’s actually cheaper to buy locally. Duties and taxes can also be a real downer when buying from abroad as can shipping times if you need something yesterday. I guarantee you that getting an item rushed with next-day shipping won’t be cheap if it’s even offered as an option.

Finally, you’re probably afraid of getting screwed over by scammer who never intends to ship the item and just wants to take your money. It is true that there are scam artists online – probably just as many as there are offline. The good news is that it’s actually pretty easy to spot them and with a few simple tricks I guarantee you that you’ll be getting great deals time and time again.

Now that we’ve gone over the basic concepts of online shopping, we are ready to learn how to shop. Trust me, you’ll want to know what you’re doing before you start. I promise you it’s easy and painless, but make sure you’re armed with knowledge. Stay tuned for part two of this series!

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