Internet is now a big part of our lives and there are many of us who does shopping online. Is it really better than shopping from the store? Here are the thoughts of people going online shopping.
- We can compare prices and get better deals.
- We can find things not available in stores.
Those seem to be valid points, but the online shopping does cost you more if you don’t account various hidden costs associated with the online dealings. There is also a case that something looks great in pictures doesn’t really look so great in reality. If you return or exchange, that will cost you at least the shipping fee. Also the shipping companies often don’t leave the package at the door. Some shipping company’s office is quite far away from where you live and you may end up lining up for hours just to get your package. Of course, if you can’t find in stores, online shopping is only the way to get it.
Is online shopping really cheaper?
For many of us living in Canada, majority of online shopping happens cross border from the States. When goods are crossing the border using courier company, it usually means you have to pay full duty and GST plus the handling fee to the shipping company unless the item was made in North America. On top of that, the seller usually charges shipping fee and handling fee. So even if the price online seems attractive, you will end up paying quite a lot more than buying from the store in the neighbourhood. Before you make an order online, make sure to think about all those costs. You will pay to the seller the shipping, handling and the price of the goods, but the custom fee is charged when you receive it. So you may not know exactly how much it could end up costing. So the amount you just paid online is not all the money you are paying if the shipment is coming outside of your country.
Here is an example.
Cost of the item — $24.99 USD
Shipping fee — $12.59 USD
Total: $37.58 USD
Ok, you think exchange rate maybe 2% according to the paper, so you think the cost maybe $38.33 CND. Wrong! The credit card and paypal charge you a lot more for the exchange rate. If it is 2%, it will likely to cost you 5%. So the amount you pay to the seller is more like $39.50 CND. You think this is still not too bad, but actually that is not all you pay. When you receive, you will likely pay duty and handling fee something like below:
Payment in Canadian:
$37.58 USD (Cost of the payment to the seller) — $39.50CND
Duty 7%- 12% depending on the item — $2.77 – $4.74
Broker fee between $10.00 to $25.00 depending on the service.
Total: $52.27 – $69.24 plus HST
So by the time you receive it, it could actually cost you more than double of the listing price $24.99 USD. Some shipping company does charge you when you pick up/receive the goods, but some other company sends you a bill later. Only suggestion is to use postal service instead of UPS or Fedex for shipping if you want to have a chance of skipping duty etc. UPS and Fedex will always charge you duty and broker fee, but post sometimes does not charge to the receiver. Of course the post is not as reliable as the other shipping company, but if you want to get it cheap, you can try with your own risk.
How about shipping locally? For that, you don’t have to pay anything when you receive it. All you have to pay is the shipping, handling and the cost of the goods. Still, check to make sure that the shipping and handling fee are reasonable relative to the order you are making. If you order large amount, some sellers offer free shipping. Think carefully if you really need all those goods. Are you buying all these just to get the free shipping? Isn’t it cheaper buying what you need from the local store?
Is it more convenient than going to the physical store?
It sounds very easy to make an order online. Just clicks of the mouse from the comfort of your home, you order what you want and they are supposed to be at your door steps in a few days. Is it? If the shipping is done by the post, they maybe in your mail box, left at the door or you need to pick up from the post office. If you happen to be home when the delivery arrives, it is great, but how many of us actually stay home during the business hours waiting for the package. We order online because we are busy working and don’t have time to go out. Yes, we are working. Often somewhere other than where you live. If you are not home, you will look at the notice and take a next day off waiting for the delivery, or going to pick up the package from the post office or the shipping company. Most of us will choose to pick up if we aren’t home. You may end up waiting for a long time to pick up your package if you are not lucky. Was it really worth to order? Wasn’t it better if you went to the shop and bought it yourself?
Did you get what you really wanted online?
Very often, the picture looks great online. The beautiful white background shows off the beautiful package and the goods. It lists the features of the products and everything looks like exactly what you want. Only difference between the physical store and online store is that you can’t actually touch before you buy. The item you received from the online store might look a bit different colour than what you expected, or smaller than what you thought, or it may be some damage to the item. Now what? Depending on the exchange policy, you may not be able to return it, or you have to pay shipping plus some extra fee. If you have seen the item before you bought, you didn’t have to buy it in the first place or checked for the damage before you left the store.
Of course if you are looking for the item that you can’t find anywhere near you live, and you really have to have it, then online shopping is a great alternative. When you are making a payment, make sure that you are on the secure mode, but most importantly, you should make sure to deal with a trust worthy seller.