Online stores are usually available 24 hours a day, and many consumers have Internet access both at work and at home. A visit to a conventional retail store requires travel and must take place during business hours.
Searching or browsing an online catalog can be faster than browsing the aisles of a physical store. Consumers with dial-up Internet connections rather than broadband have much longer load times for content-rich web sites and have a considerably slower online shopping experience.
One advantage of shopping online is being able to quickly seek out deals for items or services with many different vendors (though some local search engines do exist to help consumers locate products for sale in nearby stores). Search engines and online price comparison services can be used to look up sellers of a particular product or service.
Shoppers find a greater selection online in certain market segments (for example, computers and consumer electronics) and in some cases lower prices. This is due to a relaxation of certain constraints, such as the size of a "brick-and-mortar" store, lower stocking costs (or none, if drop shipping is used), and lower staffing overhead.
Shipping costs (if applicable) reduce the price advantage of online merchandise, though depending on the jurisdiction, a lack of sales tax may compensate for this.
In recent years, online shopping has become popular; however, it still caters to the middle and upper class. In order to shop online, one must be able to have access to a computer and most of the time, own a credit card. This technology separates social classes and their ability to shop. The shopping landscape not only helps distract us from the enormous social segregation by race and class that the most privileged Americans find completely natural, it helps to reproduce this segregation. Shopping has evolved with the growth of technology and that means an even larger separation between social classes and their means to shop. Social position strongly influences individual preferences and tastes in popular culture. According to research found in the Journal of Electronic Commerce, if we focus on the demographic characteristics of the in-home shopper, in general, the higher the level of education, income, and occupation of the head of the household, the more favorable the perception of non-store shopping. It should be remembered that an influential factor in consumer attitude towards non-store shopping is exposure to technology, since it has been demonstrated that increased exposure to technology increases the probability of developing favorable attitudes towards new shopping channels.
Online shopping widened the target audience to men and women of the middle class. At first, main users of online shopping were young men with a high level of income and a university education. This profile is changing. For example, in USA in the early years of Internet there were very few women users, but by 2001 women were 52.8% of the online population.
The main idea of online shopping is not in having a good looking website that could be listed in a lot of search engines and it is not about the art behind the site. It also is not only just about disseminating information, because it is all about building relationships and making money. Mostly, organizations try to adopt techniques of online shopping without understanding these techniques and/or without a sound business model. Rather than supporting the organization's culture and brand name, the website should satisfy consumer's expectations. Many researchers notify that the uniqueness of the web has dissolved and the need for the design, which will be user centered, is very important. Companies should always remember that there are certain things, such as understanding the customer's wants and needs, living up to promises, never go out of style, because they give reason to come back. And the reason will stay if consumers always get what they expect. McDonaldization theory can be used in terms of online shopping, because online shopping is becoming more and more popular and website that wants to gain more shoppers will use four major principles of McDonaldization: efficiency, calculability, predictability and control.
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