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ICT

Changing lifestyles

Shopping online

Nearly everything available on the highstreet or in shopping centres can also be found online. For example, supermarkets offer home delivery of goods ordered through their website [website: a web page or group of web pages hosted on one web server and viewed in a web browser ].

Digital [digital: data measured at discrete intervals, eg a digital watch typically moves from displaying one second to the next without displaying the values in-between ] downloads [download: the transfer of a file or files from one computer connected to the Internet to another ] are now common too. Items previously sold on physical media (CDs [Compact Disc (CD): used to store data, eg music CD ], DVDs [Digital Versatile Disc (DVD): used to store data, eg a movie ], books) can instead be downloaded directly to a customer's computer or handheld device.

Buying goods online

The process for buying goods online commonly involves:

  1. browsing through the online catalogue
  2. adding items to the virtual basket
  3. visiting a virtual checkout
  4. choosing payment and delivery method
  5. order confirmation
  6. shipping confirmation (via email [email: electronic mail - a message written or typed on a computer and sent electronically rather than by post ] or sms)

Advantages

  • Convenience - shop from any computer with an Internet connection [Internet connection: a computer's or another internet-enabled device's connection to the Internet ] any time while avoiding the need to travel, pay for parking, queue in-store etc.
  • Greater variety - more shops online than any highstreet or shopping centre.
  • Cheaper goods - increased competition between retailers (for some on a global scale) brings down prices.
  • Accessibility - those with a disability that limits their mobility can choose to have goods delivered.
  • Comparability - using the Internet it's easy to research products or services very thoroughly, comparing prices and product details in order to get the best deal.

Disadvantages

  • security concerns surrounding payment by credit card over the Internet [Internet: a global network connecting millions of computers ]
  • not being able to physically inspect the goods before purchase
  • goods getting damaged during transport
  • goods not arriving in time or at all
  • concerns over what information retailers are storing about customers, eg buying habits

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