Are you ready to join? The Internet shopping bandwagon, that is. Shopping online has become increasingly popular over the last few years, with new and improved safety measures, specialty shops and giant retailers like Overstock.com; all designed to entice shoppers.
In fact, VeriSign (the leading provider of security for web sites on the Internet) suggests e-commerce data from the holiday season in 2004 totaled 8.8 billion dollars in online purchases (based on an analysis of online sales volume processed through VeriSign payment services, which comprises more than 35% of North America's e-commerce and represents in excess of 120,000 online retailers).
Additionally, e-commerce transactions are estimated to be close to 168 billion dollars for the year 2005. In fact, in the year 2010 it is projected online sales could top the 315 billion dollar mark (Forrester Research 2005). One may ask, why such an increase?
Many factors can explain such increases. Improved security measures, ease of use and convenience are just a few of these factors. Let's explore these factors.
Security Measures- Despite all the fears of identity theft, online transactions account for less than 4% of identity theft. There are numerous software programs available (some for free) that the user can download to protect themselves from viruses and spyware. Worried about spyware? Download a free spyware program at www.safer-networking.com (called SpyBot Search & Destroy). Additionally, look for the locked padlock in the toolbar and make sure the http changes to https in your browser. The "s" indicates that the web site is a secure site and adheres to the industry standard for security values Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Therefore, your personal information is encrypted and stays private during transmission over the Internet. Always delete sensitive information when exiting any website and do not give your credit card number to anyone requesting it in an email (phishing scams). Follow these simple steps a safe online shopping experience.
Ease of use- We have all seen the banner advertisements, just click on them and they take you to the web site advertised. Email advertising is growing in popularity as well and includes a link to click on to take the user to the site after they read the text ad. There are some unique and catchy names of web sites that are easy to remember. Have a favorite web site or shopping site? Just bookmark it and add it to your collection of favorites!
Convenience- Ever wait in long lines during the holiday season? What a time saver online shopping has become! No lines to wait in, no parking hassles, no traffic, no gas expense, no crowds and your merchandise can be shipped right to your door! Or, if you prefer, you can have your purchases gift wrapped and delivered to another address. All you do is sit at your computer with your shopping list and get done in a few hours what may taken you several days and trips to the mall to accomplish!
There are many more advantages to shopping online (we have just covered a few) as well as some disadvantages, but carefully weighed out; the smart shopper will discover a happy medium between the two and e-commerce will continue to grow and be a force in the economy for years to come.