Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser. Consumers find a product of interest by visiting the website of the retailer directly or by searching among alternative vendors using a shopping search engine, which displays the same product's availability and pricing at different e-retailers. As of 2016, customers can shop online using a range of different computers and devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.
An online shop evokes the physical analogy of buying products or services at a regular "bricks-and-mortar" retailer or shopping center; the process is called business-to-consumer online shopping. When an online store is set up to enable businesses to buy from another businesses, the process is called business-to-business online shopping. A typical online store enables the customer to browse the firm's range of products and services, view photos or images of the products, along with information about the product specifications, features and prices.
Online stores typically enable shoppers to use "search" features to find specific models, brands or items. Online customers must have access to the Internet and a valid method of payment in order to complete a transaction, such as a credit card, an Interac-enabled debit card, or a service such as PayPal.
For physical products the e-tailer ships the products to the customer; for digital products, such as digital audio files of songs or software, the e-tailer typically sends the file to the customer over the Internet. The largest of these online retailing corporations are Alibaba, Amazon.com, Myntra, eBay and many more.
The growth of the internet as a secure shopping channel has developed since 1994, with the first sales of Sting album 'Ten Summoner's Tales'. Wine, chocolates and flowers soon followed and were among the pioneering retail categories which fueled the growth of online shopping. Researchers found that having products that are appropriate for e-commerce was a key indicator of Internet success. Many of these products did well as they are generic products which shoppers didn't need to touch and feel in order to buy. Online shopping has come along way since these early days.
Online customers must have access to the Internet and a valid method of payment in order to complete a transaction. Generally, higher levels of education and personal income correspond to more favorable perceptions of shopping online.
Online shoppers commonly use a credit card or a PayPal account in order to make payments. but there are other many ways of payment which are given below.
- Billing to mobile phones and landlines
- Cash on delivery (C.O.D.)
- Cheque/ Check
- Debit card
- Direct debit in some countries
- Electronic money of various types
- Gift cards
- Postal money order
- invoice especially popular in some markets/countries, such as Switzerland
- Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies
Once a payment has been accepted, the goods or services can be delivered in the following ways like shipping, drop shipping, downloading/digital distribution, printing out or emailing admission tickets and scrips.
Customers are attracted to online shopping not only because of high levels of convenience, but also because of broader selections, competitive pricing, and greater access to information. Business organizations seek to offer online shopping not only because it is of much lower cost compared to bricks and mortar stores, but also because it offers access to a worldwide market, increases customer value, and builds sustainable capabilities.