Online to purchase goods or services saves considerable time and effort – and also presents you with the widest choice. There are, however, risks associated with online shopping and you need to take care with what you are buying, from whom, and how you pay for your purchases. This is important because not all retailers are created equal. The same product offered from two different online retailers may be more expensive from one retailer, have a higher shipping cost from one retailer and may be subject to different return policies. All of these factors can contribute to the consumer’s overall satisfaction with the product even when we are discussing identical products because these factors influence the purchasing experience. Additionally, the reputation of the online retailer can also help to influence the consumer’s decision of whether or not to make a purchase from a particular consumer. This article will discuss comparing online retailers using factors such as price, shipping and return policies.
Using Price to Make Comparisons
Price is one of the obvious factors which consumers often use to compare retailers whether they are considering shopping online shop (ecommerce) or in physical stores. This is a very important consideration because not all retailers sell the same products for the same price. While, in general, the prices will often be similar simply because retailers are in direct competition with each other for a consumer’s business there are occasions in which one particular retailer may be offering a product at a discounted price. These price deviations typically occur when a retailer is attempting to reduce inventory to either make room for new products or because the retailer is closing its operations. Regardless of the reason for the price reductions, consumers can benefit by purchasing items from this retailer and a lower price than they would pay with other retailers.
Consumers who are relying on price to decide between two online retailers should also verify the reputation of the online retailer before making the purchase. This is usually not an issue when the consumer is making a purchase from a well-known chain of stores. However, when the consumer does not know much about the online retailer it is wise to investigate the retailer to ensure it is a legitimate and reputable company. Consulting the Better Business Bureau is one way the consumer can learn more about the reputation of the company.
Comparison shopping engines (CSE) collect product information, including pricing, from participating retailers and then display that collective information on a single results page in response to a shopper’s search query. In this way, shoppers can compare each retailer’s price, shipping options, and service on a single page and choose the merchant that offers the best overall value.
Considering Shipping in the Comparison
Although cost is often one of the first factors consumers consider when comparing online retailers or even traditional retailers, shipping must also be considered carefully when comparing two or more online retailers. This is because the cost of shipping as well as the shipping options can both influence the consumer’s decision. Two retailers may offer products for the same price but the shipping prices may differ from one online retailer to the next. In some cases this difference may substantially change the total price of purchasing the item.
Online retailers also sometimes have to consider the shipping methods available. This is especially important if the consumer needs to have an item arrive quickly. In these cases a consumer may opt to choose one online retailer over another if only one of the retailers offers express shipping options such as overnight shipping or two day shipping.
The Importance of Return Policy
Online shoppers should also always be aware of the return policies when they are making purchases online. This is important because the cost of returning an item can be expensive in some cases especially if it is a large or a heavy item. While some online retailers will bear the cost of shipping when they make mistakes or items are defective, returns for other reasons may result in the consumer being responsible for shipping charges. For these reasons consumers should always carefully review the return policies when comparing two or more online retailers.