Shopping online has become a regular part of people’s everyday life. It can be used to buy groceries, clothes, entertainment, furniture, hobby supplies, and more. The growing availability of goods and services that can be purchased over the internet has made it easier than ever before to find just about anything and have it show up right at your door with just the click of a button. People live busy lives, and there isn’t always time in the day to go out to a store to buy what you need. It’s simply become much more convenient to shop online.
Comparing prices and finding great deals is also less complicated than before. Rather than parsing through pages and pages of advertisements and newspaper coupon inserts, simply pull up a new browser tab and do a web search. There are even apps that will quickly locate the best prices for any available item.
When shopping online, there’s no need to worry about dealing with large crowds, long checkout times, or pushy store clerks trying to upsell you on items you don’t want. When looking to buy something late at night or on days that brick-and-mortar shops are usually closed, purchases can be made with online vendors instead, as they operate 24/7 all the time. However, there are certain things that has come to be expected when shopping online:
1. Free Shipping
Most of the largest online retailers now offer free shipping for orders over minimum purchase price. Some will only have this option with 2- or 3-day shipping, but with the increasing amount of competition, more vendors have made next-day shipping regularly available. Certain websites have subscription services that guarantee same-day or next-day shipping on all purchases.
2. Affordable Prices
Competitive pricing is almost a necessity for most e-commerce websites. Customers love saving money, and because it’s so much easier to find the best deals, they’ll look elsewhere to purchase goods at a discount. Nobody wants to part with more of their hard-earned cash if they can find high-quality products at dirt-cheap prices.
3. Wide Selections
People like being able to find everything they want in one place. When they shop online, they expect to find a good variety of selections available so they can find whatever they need. With sites that sell items like groceries, customers want to be able to choose from every major brand for all their purchases so they don’t have to look somewhere else just for one or two things.
The more options an online vendor offers, the better the chance that shoppers will place larger orders. This is especially true when it comes to the minimum prices for free shipping. If a customer can’t find enough things they need, they may simply find another place to shop.
4. Multiple Platforms
Many shoppers will want to access online vendors from different devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Sometimes they have one that’s their preferred method, but which device they use often depends on where they are and what they’re doing when they need to make a purchase.
Someone may remember they need to add something to their grocery list or get a gift for a family member while they’re at work or out doing chores. They expect to be able to log into the website from their phone and complete their order, or have the freedom to return home and finish it from their computer. Vendors that include cross-platform accessibility will attract more customers due to the convenience and versatility it provides.
5. Website Security
Customers making purchases over the internet must give over sensitive personal and financial information to the website where they’re placing their order. They need to know that this information is safe from hacks or data breaches. If it falls into the hands of malicious agents, it can severely damage their livelihood, including losing money or harming their reputation.
Shoppers expect that when they buy goods online, they can trust that the vendors have taken every precaution to protect their information by using SSL certificates, firewalls and other effective anti-cybercrime measures when entering credit/debit card numbers, home addresses, and phone numbers.
6. Payment Options
The ubiquity of e-commerce has helped give rise to alternative forms of payment options, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Bitcoin. These often make it faster and easier to make a purchase without directly handing over credit/debit card numbers, making it safer for the consumer.
Online shoppers want the freedom to pay with whatever method they prefer, so sites that allow this will receive much more business than those that don’t.
7. Detailed Product Descriptions
When shopping online, customers are relying on the vendor to provide all the pertinent details about a product. If it’s something like a new couch or bed, they need to know the size, weight, and dimensions so they can determine if it can fit the available space. Food products need to include all nutritional information and the form that they come in, such as a bundle of apples vs. individual ones. Clothing must have descriptions of their size and what type of material they’re made from.
The more details given, the better informed a shopper’s decision about what to buy will be, reducing the chance of refunds or returns.
8. Customer Ratings and Reviews
People like to get an idea about what they’re buying based on the experiences of those who previously purchased a product. They expect to have the ability to look at a rating and see how many people have reviewed it, as well as the content of those reviews.
This is necessary when shopping online as an alternative to being able to try something out themselves. As with the descriptions of a product, helps customers make an informed decision that will increase the chance of receiving an item with which they’re satisfied.
9. Return Policies
Shopping online means customers don’t get to see and inspect products before purchasing them, so having a convenient return policy is a must. They want to be sure that anything they buy comes with the option to send items back if they’re damaged or received an incorrect order.
Any necessary replacements or refunds should happen quickly and without needing to jump through all sorts of hoops. Mistakes are bound to happen, so sites with money-back guarantees and hassle-free returns will build significant good-will with customers, convincing them to continue making purchases with them.
10. Customer Service
Good communication with customers is paramount to maintaining a continued relationship with them. Shoppers expect easy methods of contacting a vendor’s support staff to ask questions both before or after their purchases or receive assistance with using the website.
When something goes wrong, they need to know that their complaints won’t simply be brushed off, and will be addressed quickly and thoroughly. Since people have different preferences for communicating with vendors, they like having the option to contact customer service by phone, email, online chat, or on social media.
There are nearly 2 billion online shoppers across the world that account for $4.8 trillion in sales. The e-commerce boom will only continue to grow, so any website offering customers everything they’ve come to expect is certain to see more of those profits come their way. The ease and accessibility of shopping online has given more power to the consumer than ever before, and they will choose whatever vendor gives them everything they want.