The Pros & Cons of Online Shopping

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Why drive to Walmart when you can buy the same item online, right from home? Well, this could be a good option for some, but not others. Good because maybe you live in a rural town that doesn't have a local Walmart. Not-so-good for those who would pay less in gas money driving there instead of paying shipping costs.

That is just one pro vs con example. Here are a few more.

PROS:
  • Use of coupons codes: There is a plethora of sites that you can use to find exclusive discounts and coupon codes to use at your favorite shopping site. Many of these are available solely to online shoppers. You can find free shipping codes, free item with purchase offers, percentage off codes and many more.
  • Hard to find items: Thanks to sites like eBay, it is possible to find truly unique and hard to find items such as antiques. Maybe you have a collector in your family; you're not going to be able to find that 1927 bronze pegasus in any store!
  • Ship gifts directly: What if you have a family member that lives cross-country and won't be able to see for the holidays? Most online stores give you the ability to ship to their address, not yours. Problem solved!
  • No waiting: This is a big benefit during the holiday shopping season, especially if you are a last minute shopper. You can include skipping traffic in this pro as well.
  • Price comparisons: This is one of my favorite reasons to shop online. There are many sites that specialize in this. Just type in the item you're looking for and the site will scour their database of stores (usually 100s of them) and show you lowest price in a matter of seconds. Many sites also show you any available coupon codes to stretch your savings.
CONS:
  • Costs: Unless you're able to find a free shipping code or some other kind of discount, chances are you will pay more than if you went to the store to buy something.
  • Physical interaction: This applies to items like clothing. I personally can not do any clothes shopping online because I need to try on clothes. I can easily go through 8 pairs of pants, all the same size, before I find a pair the actually fit.
  • Personal data: This is a pretty rare occurrence, but identity theft can happen when you enter any kind of personal data online, especially financial information. Make sure you buy from a reputable site and if you have any doubts, pass on it.
  • Returns: What if your TV arrives with a busted screen, or those shoes don't fit. Some online stores offer free returns, but it's still a hassle to re-pack it up, print out a shipping label and mail it back. Even worse if you need to pay to ship it back! If you bought at a store, simply drive back and show your receipt.
  • Eco-friendliness: I can't tell you how many times I've ordered things like body spray and one bottle comes in a box that could easily fit about 10 of them. Between the size of the box and all the extra padding inside, that's a lot of garbage (even if it can be recycled). On top of that, you have the trucks and planes that ship it cross country or overseas.
Can you add any pros or cons to this list? What kind of shopping do you prefer? I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

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