Online shopping comparison
Online shopping is a growing phenomenon that is seeing many stores allowing customers to shop online through their websites while others operate purely online without any physical shops where you can browse. While these sites offer convenience, they can also add to your bill with extras like delivery charges. You also miss out on the instant gratification of your purchase, often waiting several days for the item to be delivered.
Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood compared the delivery charges and delivery times for 10 online shopping websites. Eight of the website compared are for clothing items, while two solely offer homeware products. Grocery items were excluded from the list as delivery times for these products differ compared to non-grocery items.
From the comparison, it is evident that delivery charges are generally below R100. However, while not compared here, some of the websites did note that additional charges may be applicable depending on the item purchased, as well as the delivery location.
Superbalist was the cheapest as deliveries were free however, for the online stores that charge for delivery, R35 is the cheapest, from both Takealot and Loot. These two sites also offer free delivery for orders over R250.
The offer of free delivery for purchases over a certain value are an incentive to get people to spend more money. Only six of the stores offer this, with Forever New SA having the highest spending target of R800. With four of the 10 stores compared offering free delivery for purchases over R250, this seems to be an industry standard.
Delivery times for online purchases, on average, appear to take a week. However, on some of the sites, shoppers have the option to pay more for delivery to get it delivered within a shorter time. The availability of the product will also impact on delivery times, with items that need to be ordered or shipped in from suppliers taking longer to arrive.
Online stores versus brick and mortar
Online stores allow you to compare the cost of a product at various stores before making a purchase. However, this added convenience has a drawback. The ability to compare products does not extend to every store, as not all stores have an online presence or catalogue. Furthermore, there are certain items that may be best to view in person before making a final decision on whether or not to purchase the product, such as shoes perhaps.
While you have the hassle of having to drive to the store when you want to buy something, this can be cheaper than having to pay for delivery when purchasing an item online.
However, while you may be able to get an item instantly when purchasing it in store, online shopping opens access to products you may otherwise not have been able to purchase. Through the likes of Amazon and other international online stores, you can access items from overseas that stores or local shopping website might not offer.
But be warned, these sites might charge in US Dollars, Pounds or another foreign currency, and delivery may cost more as it is an overseas delivery. This can add up, making the product cost a lot more than it is actually worth.
Tips to cut shopping costs
- Shop around: Online isn’t always cheaper, and you must be sure you know the price of the product you are purchasing at other stores first. Also factor in delivery charges, as while a product may be cheaper online, the delivery charges could increase the price to much higher than in a physical store, meaning you will actually pay more.
- Shop the sales: Many online stores often have a sales section, such as Forever New SA, Spree and Zando. This is a good place to look for bargains on items that you otherwise would not have bought. You might also find that one item you’ve been eyeing at a much lower price.
- Know the store: Whether shopping in store or online, know who you are purchasing from. MasterCard suggests reading previous customer ratings and reviews to provide insight on customer service and product quality.
- Check the returns policy before check-out: Before hitting the check-out, make sure you know what the returns policy is. “Returns are the key to confident online shopping; without a customer-friendly returns policy, no online store can thrive. The best ones offer free returns, and will even send a courier to collect your unwanted purchases, as well as offer you a choice of swapping out sizes, exchanging goods for store credit or refunding the money straight into your account,” highlights Spree.
- Shop on secure sites: In the world of fraud and scams, many people are hesitant about shopping online. But there are a few things you can look for to see if the site is secure to shop on. “The first clue that you are shopping on a secure site is the letters https (not just http) that appear at the beginning of the URL when you are on the payments page. No s, no shopping. Simple. A lock icon is another sign that a site is secure (its location on the site is dependent on your browser), and should display security details when you click on it,” explains Spree.
- Don’t overindulge with your spending: Spree acknowledges that impulse purchases on online shopping sites can give them a bad name (i.e. they cost too much, you spend too much etc.). Always have a plan about what you are going to buy. “Your closet is right there, possibly in the same room as you are. Open it, see what you’ve got, and more importantly what you don’t. Now shop to fill in the gaps.”
- Start small: Spree recommends starting with purchases that are ‘one-size-fits-all’, such as bags, hats, and jewellery, as sizing isn’t an issue.