Riding the information highway is a bit like riding a bike or driving a car. You can get somewhere quicker and easier than you could if you just walked, but there are risks that come with the associated speed and convenience that you need to take into account.
Some of the Pros…
eCommerce is fast! If you are connected to a broadband cable network then there are few things faster in this world than the access that you can get to a world of information and industry. A click of a button and a few flashes of light across your screen and your there! Compare that to the hours of commuting, parking, walking, browsing, negotiating, signing, paying and returning home that regular commerce entails and there is just no comparison.
I hardly shop at regular stores anymore because the convenience of shopping at home FAR outweighs the hassle of going store to store at the mall or supermarket for most things and I don’t mind waiting for delivery. If I am organised then except for the few things that a I need RIGHT NOW (or in the next 10min – 2hr, depending on the commuting, parking etc etc involved in making an emergency trip to a store) I can get something online in a few minutes and have it delivered next day in 95% of cases.
eCommerce is safe! The fears that many people continue to harbour in regards to the security of their information are unfounded in the majority of cases.
Yes, if you want to buy something from a site promising something for nothing and the language of the contract or sales letter is written in less than perfect english or is rife with spelling mistakes or vague details then you are asking for trouble – and you can’t blame problems that come from this sort of activity on eCommerce just as you wouldn’t blame the retail industry for problems that you encounter if you buy something from someone at bar!
If you are running firewall software and you have a clean system and shop on reputable sites then saving for the most unfortunate of cases you and your information is just as safe as if you had bought something from a bricks and mortar store.
eCommerce is cheap! Common sense says that someone who is operating a website with hundreds and thousands of customers across the world will be able to sell for less than someone who has less customers and higher rental and utiltiy expenses from operating a physical premises. Take eBay for example – there are millions of sellers selling millions of products that they sell from the comfort of their homes or small business premises and they sell for about 50% of the price of the big department stores with their huge buying power simply because their overheads are next to $0!
Sure, you will pay the same for an Ipod shopping from Apple’s website as you would from Apple’s Stores, but they are not exactly about to undercut themselves when they are making heaps of money as it is. There is plenty of competition in cyberspace to keep price at ground level.
eCommerce is global! Where else do you get retailers in Australia competing with small businesses in America and individuals in Japan all in the same industry and over the same products and services. And how else could the average person expect to be able to get access to goods and services from anywhere other than their immediate locality if not for eCommerce! It is the wonder of the modern age and a blessing for businesses and consumers the world over.
Some of the cons…
eCommerce is constantly changing! As I mentioned above there are many traps for people who don’t take the time to negotiate the fraudsters that are prevalent in cyberspace. The old saying that ‘a sucker is born every minute’ has particular meaning in eCommerce because all of the old suckers who had been sucked into every trap and scap in the real world were immediately exposed to the same scams again online when they ventured online for the first time.
As with anything new there is a need for people to get themselves educated and sadly education is one of the biggest small parts of people’s lives (though hopefully some of these articles with help with that in some cases). Don’t think that just because something exists then it is safe. Learn about the internet and stay with the proven safe roads before going for the road less travelled by and that will make all the difference.
eCommerce is competitive! As with anything where there is the potential for profit and the necessity of competition there is a lot of sharp practice online just as there is in the real world. Advertising, with the same subliminal and blatant enticements is just as prevalent online as it is in the real world and people are getting sucked into spending more than they can afford because access to payment by credit card and buy-now-pay-later schemes are everywhere.
eCommerce should be seen as a blessing to be able to take some of the hassle out of real world business and strict planning and budgeting should be invested in shopping and doing business online just as it has to be done in the real world to avoid defeat.
Personally I don’t think that there are many cons in the world of eCommerce – only the same cons that exist in any business or commercial environment – buyer beware – look before you leap – there are a lot of principles that apply in real life that need to be taken online but are left at the login page for some reason. eCommerce is not a computer game where you can just restart if you didn’t like the score that you got. Take is seriously and you will only reap the benefits!