When I do my monthly or weekly shopping, I usually go to Game Lugoggo like most city dwellers in Kampala. But I don’t normally enjoy the shopping experience because of many reason such as long queues at the encounter. Checking out usually means waiting for 10-20 people to be served first on a busy day on major supermarkets around town. Also in-store shopping sucks because one has to carry items with them which sometimes can be very heavy.
Enter the new world of online shopping. Although it’s still nascent in Uganda like most African states, online shopping is beginning to pick the interest of casual shoppers like myself. There are currently over 10 online stores in Uganda and over 5 shipping companies that enable you shop around the world. So if you can’t find that latest laptop on Kilimall, then you can ship it from Amazon thanks to folks like Goodsexpress. But why shop online? Here are 7 reasons why you are missing out if you don’t already shop online.
Convenience is probably the most popular reason why most people now shop online. The hassle of having to beat traffic jam, find parking for your car, watch over the kids, carry bags etc is all taken away. You simply have to open your computer or smartphone, log on to a popular shopping site like Amazon or eBay, browse items and checkout. Items will be delivered to your door-step or a convenient pick-up location for case of shopping and shipping companies like Goods express. That’s what really ticks about online shopping
2. Endless choice of products
When you walk into a super market like capital shoppers in Naalya, you are limited to the number of items that the store is able to display on their shelves. If the store doesn’t have the right color for your Jeans or the right shoe size for you, then you might be pressured to buy what you might really not want. That’s the bummer about brick-and-mortar shopping.
With online shopping, you have access to countless catalog of products. Amazon alone has over 480 million products on its store. When shopping online you are not limited to a single store. You simply have to open another window or tab for eBay or Zappos or Alibaba and browse for whatever product you are looking for. Choice is really the color of life.
3. Compare prices
Walking into any super market in town is like blind shopping. You simply don’t have the opportunity to compare prices of items across different super markets. So chances are that you will just buy the product displayed on the shelves regardless of whether the price is fair or not.
But with online shopping, you have the opportunity to compare prices across different stores before commiting to spending your hard-earned money. You can open Jumia on one tab and Kilimall on the other for the case of Ugandan-based online stores. For global stores you can check prices of an item on Amazon or on eBay or Alibaba. Most of these global stores don’t yet ship to Uganda, but remember you can use Goods express to ship your item to Uganda.
4. Can be cheaper
Shopping is all about saving some money, right? So you can shop more stuff! That’s the great thing about online shopping; prices are usually lower than what you would find with offline or brick-and-mortar stores. I’ve personally found prices of laptops at most shops on Kampala road to be almost twice the amount I see quoted on online stores such as Amazon. Because online stores don’t have to spend a lot on rent or maintaining nice-looking shelves with lots of staff to employ, they are able to cut down on costs which are translated to the buyers. Also because of on-going promos, coupons and mega discount days like black Friday, items sold online can really be cheaper than those from ordinary stores.
5. Consumer reviews
Another big plus for online shopping is that you get to benefit from online consumer reviews of most products. Consumer reviews are simply opinions and experiences that other shoppers have had about the product on sale. Before spending your hard-earned money only to realize the product wasn’t all that great, you want to drink from the “wisdom of the crowds”. Some products on Amazon have thousands of reviews. The crowds will tell you what’s wrong or great about the product, whether the seller is genuine or not and if the product performed to the marketing hype. There’s no such thing when you walk into a super market except the fact that you blindly buy and find out for yourself — and probably keep the experiences to yourself.
6. Better return policies
Whenever I buy a product from down town Kampala, my receipt always reads “goods once sold can never be returned”. Yeah, for better, for once, the product remains with you — forever. That’s really unfair — and here’s why. In some cases when you purchase a product, there might be a good honest reason to return it. For instance — and especially with fashion products — the size might not be fitting, the color might not be right one you wanted or for electronics, product might be faulty. Nobody wants to be ripped off and ultimately the goal of trade is for the buyer and seller to be both happy at the end of a transaction.
Fortunately, unlike most offline stores in Uganda, most online stores have “return policies” on their websites — usually in the footer. The return policy lists the terms and conditions under which an item might be returned to the store. This gives you a piece of mind while shopping because you know you can always return the item if it doesn’t satisfy your needs.
7. More privacy
Do you find shopping online really cool, let us know in the comments below.