Is online shopping better than traditional shopping?
Since COVID-19 has forced millions of people to stay at home, online shopping has increased, recording orders and requests never seen before. Some have completely changed their shopping habits and have re-evaluated the advantage of receiving what they need at home. In addition, people have considered online shopping cheaper than traditional shopping, for a few specific reasons: saving money and time, buying every day at any time, comparing prices between the various stores and choosing the most convenient, avoiding long lines, greater choice of products.
If we only consider the aspects listed above, online shopping can be considered an excellent alternative to the traditional one. E-commerce has certainly brought many benefits to consumers, making life easier for those who don’t like to shop around cities.
Now it’s time to ask the question… in terms of sustainability, is online shopping better than traditional shopping? Let’s delve into the topic by analyzing other aspects that could change (or not) our opinions regarding e-shops.
Here’s my list of questions to help you make mindful online purchases.
1. Am I buying from ethical and conscious businesses?
Collecting information about the business before making a purchase is essential to make sure that the company respects the environment and workers’ rights. Do a quick search online, or ask someone if they already know that brand. If you need more detailed information, don’t be afraid to contact the company directly. Most of the time, business owners are more than happy to provide information to potential consumers.
2. What materials are their products made of?
While you scroll through e-commerces, you might get quickly attracted by many products and feel ready to fill the cart. Before blindly purchasing most of them, read carefully the description, and make sure they are made with eco-friendly, organic, sustainable, recyclable materials. If you’re not sure yet, do your online search. Unfortunately, some companies pretend to produce sustainable and ethically made items as their aim is only to make a profit.
3. Are these products worth the price?
Before spending your money, ask yourself if the product is worth the price. E-shops have very competitive prices compared to traditional stores, for this reason, people are more willing to buy more stuff. Remember that it’s very important to behave like a conscious consumer, especially when you are tempted to make impulsive purchases. Before putting your hands on your savings, wait for a few minutes and think about your decisions.
4. What are the benefits of buying online?
People who have busy lives want to save time and effort, and they prefer to buy online what they need. This is the main advantage of online shopping: convenience for the consumers. You can buy anything from anywhere, without facing problems like the retail is too far or it might be closed. Moreover, it’s easier to compare products from different brands, you can read the reviews from previous consumers, you have more control of the prices, and more variety of the items.
5. What are the disadvantages of online shopping?
Unfortunately, there are some aspects of online stores that you cannot control. The biggest disadvantage of buying online is that you can be scammed. In some cases, people have never received the products they paid for, so they lost their money and wasted their time trying to reach the customer service. One more disadvantage is when you’ve already received your orders but they don’t look exactly as displayed or described on the website. Some businesses are not willing to manage returns so you bought something that you won’t be able to use.
6. What about their packaging?
If you care about the environment, then you definitely need to ask about their product’s packaging. A lot of brands invest in sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging solutions, made from recycled materials and resources. Ethical and conscious businesses have banned plastic in their packages (let’s think about bubble wraps), and they opt for reusable and compostable boxes that have a less negative impact on the environment.
6. Can I find this product in a thrift store or local business?
As online shopping is becoming more and more popular with consumers, local stores have seen their profits decrease, so many artisans and small business owners have had to adapt to new shopping habits, and in some cases, have sadly had to close their businesses. Even if buying online can be extremely convenient thanks to competitive prices, this can harm retailers who have to sell at higher prices to ethically produce their products. In addition to this, remember to check if there are any second-hand shops close to you, as they are the best sustainable choice you can make. Some of them sell items in perfect conditions for cheap prices, so you can even save money for future purchases.
As mentioned above, online shops are quickly growing and changing everyone’s spending habits. Imagine getting what you need in less than 2 days, without moving from your home, directly delivered to you, at competitive prices. On the other side, online shopping is filling big corporation’s pockets, destroying small and local businesses. Before making any decisions, get informed about brands and their values.
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