More and more people are involved in online shopping process today promoting easiness, variety of goods and services, as well as lower prices as compared to the traditional way of buying. However, online purchasing can be successful for both sellers and buyers if certain conditions will be met. Internet characteristics clearly proffer new-fangled ways in which customers can essentially network with the online market place, firms and one another. Many customers tend to shop online where they can gather information on online products and services. This has greatly encouraged businesses to design strategies aimed at ensuring that they capture more customers by providing the features of their products and services via the internet. There has been a constant increase in the number of people who currently shop online. Moreover, the time they spend due to the acceptance of the online medium as a shopping channel and raise in online retailers (Zappal and Gray 225).
The characteristics of online shopping make it differ from the traditional way of shopping. In most cases, these aspects appear to be appealing to the consumers which in turn induce them to shop online although they may be discouraging to other customers. The customers’ online buying behavior is highly influenced by their perceptions, motivations, attitudes and beliefs. It is has been revealed that internet technology has truly attracted a lot of people to turn this virtual environment where they can search for product information and make online orders (Law and Cheung 3). Law and Cheung (2006) proceed to argue that the internet users in the world are constantly growing day by day, which in turn results to increase in online shopping, consequently expanding the revenues of various organizations. This paper vividly discuses the distinction between traditional and online way of shopping, the motives and barriers on the latter, clarifying the obstacles to consumers’ increasing preference of the internet purchasing.
Online shopping and electronic business essentially depends on the perceptions of the consumers on the availability of services (Zappal and Gray 192-209). During the 1990s, regulations were set explaining the requirements that officially supported people to join the internet. Since then, propagation of the internet applications has been there in various businesses. Online shopping has actually been extensively used in the hospitality and tourism industries. This proliferation is due to the increased improvements in the network technology, improved competitiveness on the prevailing online prices and the low costs that are associated with acquiring personal computers. Internet in reality enables e-customers to search for information clearly and procure products and services through direct connections with businesses that are online. The products that the consumers usually purchase are fundamentally based on the cyberspace appearances, which extend to include video clips, pictures and images, and not on real contact with the purchases.
The use of the internet has necessitated online shopping through providing unprecedented links in communications for information flow by improving accessibility, accuracy and efficiency of websites for customers in the whole globe. Statistics reveal that in travel and tourism industries, customers use the internet to plan trips, in which more than thirty percent of the users subsequently make purchases. It has also been noted that 67% of travelers in the United States in 2003 used the internet to search for information, and more than 42 million travelers made purchases afterwards. Generally, online shopping increases the profitability of the business through grown sales, which in turn helps in creating market share. The exponential growth witnessed in the use of the internet has risen online shopping to the customers thereby creating prolonged competitive advantage to several industries in the international marketplace. Most businesses are geared at establishing an online presence in order to gain a greater market share. Electronic business encourages industries to take advantage of the technology embraced in the internet to improve their efficiency, increase production operations, and inflate their market opportunities. The evolution of internet technology helps in substituting the role played by distribution networks and the lavish physical infrastructure and further encourages products information for penetrating too many geographic areas (Lucky 51-53).
The introduction of the use of the internet has significantly impacted the lives of many people in the way they execute their day-to-day activities. The increased technology sophistication in the 21st century has shaped the manner in which consumers purchase their goods and services from their homes. Online shopping helps in eliminating the customers need to drive to the markets to purchase goods. This helps in reducing the frustrations that accrue from traffic snarls and parking problems, which in turn help in decreasing the costs associated with purchasing the commodities. Basically, shopping online assists the customers to save money and make them increase the quantities that they order online (Zappal and Gray 224).
Shopping online is not time consuming. It takes less time for customers to access the websites and place their orders. This is quite different from the traditional way of shopping where it takes a lot of time traveling to the shops and obtaining the required products. Online shopping generally proffers a sense of comfort and easiness, as opposed to the traditional ways of buying goods, where customers have to hunt for the commodities that they need to purchase. This difference is well-recognized, especially during the holiday shopping seasons when a lot of consumers are out to purchase more goods from the market. This makes people struggle through the crowd in order to shop, wait in long queues, and move from one store to another in search of the commodities.
Consumers through the use of internet technology are able to view and obtain the relevant information on all products and go for the best in the market. Traditional shops have a limitation particularly in the shelf space and, as a result, most of the shops cannot hold large varieties of products. In most cases, the shelves only contain the products that have a good performance in the market and are able to snatch more sales. This clearly implies that traditional shops cannot hold all varieties of products. Thus, customers may fail to purchase the best products due the fact the available products on the shelves are only the ones that are best marketed. On the other hand, online stores in reality do not have problems of limited shelf space. It evidently implies that online shops have innumerable varieties for particular merchandise.
Consumers usually tend to purchase online for instrumental, goal-oriented, and experimental reasons. It will be realized that goal-oriented reasons are actually more common among online shoppers as compared to experimental motives. Online and offline shopping is geared at ensuring that consumer needs such as experimental and goal-oriented motives are fulfilled. This essentially affects the amount of shopping dollars that consumers will be willing to spend in both cases. In general, both online and offline environments help to reveal the different shopping experiences even when similar goods are acquired. Consumers generally shop with goal-driven, utilitarian, and experimental motives which may extend to include entertainment and fun where they actually shop to obtain products (Babin, Darden and Griffen 644-656). Goal-oriented buying motive is mainly characterized by sociality control, freedom and control, low experience commitment, selection of convenience and information availability. These goal-driven attributes are, in most cases, associated with online shopping.
Several marketing scholars describe utilitarian or the goal-oriented motive as being rational, deliberate, task-oriented and efficient(Batra and Ahtola 159-170). The online medium helps in facilitating task orientations because the search costs are reduced radically. What is more, it is believed that customers prefer to embark on efficient linear searches that use fewer clicks so as to obtain the information they want. The customers’ motives extend to capture that convenience is more vital that price although many retailers fear online buyers as they see them be driven by price purely. Shopping online is cheaper than the traditional way, but customers are further motivated by the fact that it is convenient. They are able to place orders from their homes at any time.
Despite the fact that online shopping has positive features, reports clearly disclose that there are various inhibiting impediments to the development of trade between borders. These obstacles extend to include logistical problems that are essentially related to the interoperability of payment systems, national legislation that plainly address on the intellectual property protection, value-added tax rules, and the consumer regulatory laws. Cross-border trade is also influenced by the worries of customers about online purchasing safety and the linguistic problems that occur during business transactions. Online shopping is highly affected by language problems, where it becomes hard to understand product attributes that are written down in an unfamiliar language.
The fundamental reasons that explain why people have decreased interests to purchase products are concerned with the electronic instruments, price and trust mostly. Several reports reveal that barriers to online shopping are truly comparable all over the world. Many people, especially in the less-developed countries, have a limited familiarity with the internet. This makes the customers be unable to use the online shopping and instead go for the traditional way of shopping. Limited internet familiarity affects the attitude of users since they are not able to explore and experiment different online paths. Customers, therefore, have a limited access to information on the variety of a particular product hence cannot obtain the best products in the market. Another barrier that is associated with online shopping is wariness and uncertainty. Some people are not able to believe the product attributes as explained online and, thus, prefer the traditional way of shopping where they see and examine the product in reality. This creates mistrust towards the use of the new technology, and which in turn instills fear amongst the customers to shop online (Zappal and Gray 185).
In other cases, the merchants have a poor customer service. Goods ordered by the clients may fail to be delivered in time. In many situations, products are never received or arrive being damaged. This makes many people shun from carrying out online shopping. Delays hatch as a result of long shipping time as the customers expect, which would lead to reduced sales and customer dissatisfaction. The shipping cost may be too high for the buyers to afford and, in most cases, the high transportation costs are passed directly to customers through increased prices.
Therefore, the distinction characteristic between traditional and online way of shopping was made in the paper. Moreover, the motives and barriers clarifying the obstacles to consumers’ increasing preference of the internet purchasing above usual shopping were analyzed and certain conclusions were reached. Consequently, websites help in providing quality information about products and services to consumers which, as a result, help them to carry out online shopping for the products that they are willing and able to buy. Apparently, consumers can use the internet to search for and order products in time from their homes helping to cut down transport and other associated costs of acquiring the commodities. Industries need to develop more product websites so that consumers can carry out comprehensive searches for all products they need to buy, thereby making rational decisions before their purchases. Good online product description helps firms to realize increased sales; consequently, raising their profitability levels and market shares.