With the advent of the Internet, people can enjoy shopping anytime, anywhere. No more long lines to stand in, no more crowded stores and no more fighting over parking spaces. Just one click and you’re done! The Yonsei Annals asked 101 Yonseians about how they shop online.
Yonseians’ online shopping habits
According to Korea’s most famous market research agency, Trendmonitor, 9 out of 10 Koreans have bought goods via online shopping malls in the past three months. This shows many Koreans have great interest in shopping online. The result seems to correspond roughly to Yonseians as well. Among the 101 students, 64 answered yes to the question, “Do you enjoy online shopping?” Out of these 64 people, 37 were female and 27 were male students. Although the results show that female students enjoy Internet shopping more than males do, it is hard to deny that men prefer shopping online.
Out of 37 respondents who said they did not enjoy online shopping very much, 22 questioned the quality of products offered by online stores. The other 11 answered that they do not have much interest in shopping itself.
When asked what kind of goods they usually buy on the Internet, the answers that ranked the highest were clothes (46), followed by books (36). Interestingly, male students answered that they usually buy books and electronic equipments, while females buy clothes.
How much are Yonseians willing to pay for products from online stores? Since the price is cheaper online, customers tend to buy more. Thus, online shopping can allure people to buy more than they intended. But this overindulgence does not seem to apply to Yonseians. Only 19 students answered that they have spent more than 500,000 won at a time while shopping online. E-shoppers beware. People should always keep in mind how quickly a few dollars can add up after a few simple clicks.
Pros and cons of online shopping
When asked, “What do you think is the biggest advantage of online shopping?” Saving time was the main reason for shopping online for 40 out of the 101 students surveyed. Another 16 Yonseians thought that sharing the reviews of certain products with one another was the advantage of online shopping. Furthermore, 25 students preferred online malls because they could compare various products and brands more easily than in offline malls.
At the same time, there are some drawbacks of Internet shopping. Yonseians said that the biggest problem of online shopping is that the quality of products in online malls can be different or lower than expected. Customers have to choose what to buy only relying on the photos and information shown on the website, whereas in offline stores, the actual product is available to examine before purchasing. Thus, 67 students confessed that they were worried about the quality of products bought from online stores while 20 students declared that the problem with refunds and returns was a demerit.
In order to build more credibility, these concerns are gradually being addressed by online shopping malls. If it is not easy to get a refund or return a product purchased online, consumers can report their inconvenience to the Korea Consumer Agency. Otherwise, information can be shared with other users on social networks. “Sharing information about unsatisfactory online stores through the SNS such as Twitter or Facebook is one of the best actions to encourage online malls to be more credible,” says Choi Jae-yong (CEO, Social Media Marketing Lab).
A unique wave of online shopping malls
Recently, a lot of unique online shops have emerged and have become popular. Some of them send small gifts or discount coupons with the products purchased, which make customers feel more special. Moreover, the malls that provide users helpful knowledge are gaining popularity among the online shoppers. This trend is easily shown in Naver Knowledge Search program, Jisik-In. By offering the knowledge that one knows or answering questions posted by other Internet users, he/she can get e-money which can be used as real money in cyberspace.
Sometimes online stores sell bizarre items that are not sold offline. There is a product called “random box” which puts products randomly in a box and sends it to customers. The value of the items depends on how much is paid beforehand. This shopping mall sells the “thrill of guessing” to consumers who like to be surprised.
The genuine value of online shopping
The economic value of online shopping mall is indescribable. In 2009, the turnover of online shopping malls was approximately 20.6 trillion won! Nowadays, many online shopping malls also open offline stores that sell the same products online. This merge of on and offline store results in a synergy effect and enables malls to earn more revenue. Online shopping malls even create promising jobs. “A social media marketer who earns money by advertising the malls on SNS like Cyworld or Twitter is an example of the occupation which was created by the influence of online shopping. There are also some professional tutors who give lectures about how to create a successful online store,” says Choi.
Many experts even expect the economic value of Internet shopping to continuously increase. In order to survive in this field, online shopping malls also have to strive to keep up with the rapid pace of changes in the market. Since we are living in a society of mobile business, the area of online shopping malls has to be enlarged to the extent of mobile industries such as smart phones. “Considering the fact that the use of smart phones is on the rise, online shopping malls should update information and reviews quickly, offering it through mobile phones,” says Jang Ki-jin (Prof., Dept. of Internet and Electronic Commerce).
Prof. Jang also gives a model example of a marketing strategy that current Internet shopping malls should follow. “One online store in Germany called Bestellman analyzes the genre and types of books that each customer has bought. Then, the store periodically sends books which seem to be the customers’ favorite for free of charge or less than the original price. This strategy establishes a deeper relationship with customers, ultimately increasing the frequency of visits. Likewise, online malls in Korea also should be fully prepared to respond to the customers’ needs,” adds Jang.
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Fast, cheap, and easy purchases can be made with just one click at an online shopping mall. Because of this convenience, consumers can easily go on a shopping spree. It is the consumers’ choice to make Internet shopping a benefit that facilitates shopping needs, or a bad habit that needs to be broken. Be a wise online shopper and don’t let the shopping spiral get out of control!
Do you enjoy online shopping?
What do you usually buy through online shopping?
① Clothes (46)
② Books (36)
③ Electronic equipment/ Computer (14)
④ Others (5)
What is the biggest merit of internet shopping?
① Various options to compare with (25)
② Sharing various comments with others (16)
③ Saving time (40)
④ Low price (17)
⑤ Others (3)
What is the biggest fault of online shopping?
① Delay in delivery (4)
② Difference of the quality between photo and its real (67)
③ Difficulty in refund and return (20)
④ Intemperate consume (8)
⑤ Others (2)