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The expansion of e-commerce has undoubtedly transformed and improved the way we shop. Like everything else, the world of online shopping is not a bed of roses. There are numerous challenges when it comes to e-commerce and South Africa needs to be on par with other countries so that local consumers are constantly pleased with the products and services received when they shop online.Online shopping is a quick and convenient fantastic discovery. The total buyer guide for online shopping is not just for general goods, but for any products required. The first thing which springs to mind when we think of internet shopping is convenient and time-saving. Today, it is the best method of shopping as it gives you the option to compare the prices of different products in one go.
Consumers shopping online face numerous challenges which can negatively affect the way consumers think about online shopping. It is vital for merchants and consumers to be prepared to face these challenges when shopping online. It would be a terrible experience for a consumer to buy a product online only to find that the product they ordered is not the correct one or that it has been sent to an incorrect address. The inconvenience of calling the company for refunds and returning products can be an awful experience.
It is important that the consumer heeds the call to be informed and educated before shopping online as pitfalls are there and you need to know the process and procedures when you use the internet. Here are several problems affecting shoppers negatively when shopping online:
- Quality issues: The biggest challenges while buying things online is that you have no guarantee of a product’s quality. Reviews are not often reliable and all the research cannot assure you of a product’s quality.
- Lack of security: E-commerce sites record important client data like names, phone numbers, address and bank details. If these sites do not implement stringent cyber security measures, consumer data is at risk of getting into the wrong hands and this can create disaster on your bank account.
- Delivery and logistics: The dilemma that constantly turns up while shopping online is when the order will be delivered. Delivery personnel frequently turn up at our homes when we are at work. Another problem is that there are people in rural areas who are unable to shop online because not all e-commerce sites provide delivery services to their locations.
- Digital payment failures: Whether a customer is paying by credit/debit card, net-banking, or one of the several digital wallets that exist today, the failure of digital payments always emerges overhead while making online transactions. Technical glitches often result in the payable amount being debited from a customer’s account without being credited to the selling party. Retrieving this amount is anything but a quick process. One must inform the site and then wait around 7-10 working days before the amount is refunded to their bank accounts.
- Additional charges: How many times has it happened that you have spotted a great deal on a product and when you are one click away from buying it you noticed an additional shipping charge. This is normal on all e-commerce sites when your order amount is not high enough to qualify for free shipping.
- Unclear return and guarantee policies: Since you have no idea of a product’s quality until you hold it in your hands, returning things bought online is quite common. Unless you are buying from one of the established e-commerce companies, it is essential to go through the return policy while making a purchase. But most sites have vague return policies that can leave you with a low-quality product and no way to return it. The same applies for guarantees, as most sites do not clearly mention what the policy is for a product and then refuse to carry out replacements if you receive a damaged product.
Other issues that consumers are faced with are the internet costs. South Africa has a high rate of internet cost which might affect online shopping negatively. It is appropriately important for consumers to do research and educate themselves before shopping online. An informed consumer will enjoy shopping online because they do not have to be in-store when purchasing products.
In conclusion, internet shopping has many benefits and pitfalls. It is known by various names like e-store, web shop, virtual store, e-shop and online store. In addition, it makes it easier to buy things from any part of the world. There is no denying the fact that it has become more popular than in-store shopping. In the current era of technological advancement, it has become the norm of the day. It also allows you to compare prices before hitting the purchase button.