Online shopping: better than leaving the house?

Amazon’s two-day shipping can deter customers from shopping in person. (AP Photo)
Amazon’s two-day shipping can deter customers from shopping in person. (AP Photo)

By Tom Ballard

Shopping can often be a painstaking series of events. A person has to plan a time to go out, drive to the store, browse the aisles in hopes of finding the items they seek, wait in line to check out and then drive back home. In a time where convenience and ease of use are in high demand, though, it is no surprise that people are seeking an alternative way to shop in order to avoid wasting time. Online retailers like Amazon are beneficial for people, but will fail to entirely eliminate traditional storefront businesses.

As college students, shopping can be a bit of a hassle. In addition to having to find time between going to class, partaking in extracurricular activities and remembering to take a moment to relax, college students often have to find time to purchase necessities, like toilet paper or of office supplies, or to replenish the supply of food and drinks for their rooms.

While many students have vehicles on campus, some do not and access to TCNJ Rideshare and Enterprise CarShare programs are not always dependable for a student’s busy schedule. Thus, purchasing goods from online retailers like Amazon makes sense. In a few clicks, people can order everything that would have taken up to an hour to find in-store. After a few days, the items are delivered. Shopping online has clear benefits for college students and people without easy access to transportation.

The convenience of online shopping has had negative effects on many retailers that still rely mostly on in-person shopping. According to a Chicago Tribune article from Friday, Aug. 26, Sears has closed stores amid $9 billion in losses in the past years, and Macy’s will close its doors at 100 locations. The same article reported that other retailers, like J.C. Penney, are trying to stock their shelves with exclusive items that are only available in-store in order to turn around what some might see as a dying market.

The fact is that even though a majority of Americans are now doing most of their shopping online, according to a Fortune article from Wednesday, June 8, in-person shopping will never be a thing of the past. While online shopping provides convenience and fast shipping options, nothing can beat the promptness of being able to purchase and have the item available for immediate use.

Even though Amazon’s Prime Fresh, a membership program that allows people to purchase groceries online to be delivered to their homes, can deliver milk to a person’s house, it’s not beneficial if the person needs the milk right away. For procrastinators like myself, shopping online is difficult around the holiday season, since there is often little guarantee that the item will arrive on time depending on how late I wait to place my order and how busy the shipping industry is at that time of the year.

While online shopping may appear to be an overall solution, it will never take away the ease of mind when shopping in person. While online shopping inserts a middleman and boundary between the consumer and product, in-person shopping allows the buyer to see exactly what they are buying and know when exactly they are going to have it. It is that certainty that will prevent storefront businesses from entirely disappearing.