In recent years there has been a revolution in the way people buy gifts. Consumers have recognised the benefits of shopping online and the advantages of parcel delivery using a quick and convenient courier service.
Shoppers can avoid the crowds and no longer need to spend valuable time scouring the high street for gifts for family and friends. The rising cost of petrol and inconvenience of trying to find a parking space is influencing consumers to go online.
The use of price-comparison websites reveals superb bargains as online retailers benefit from reduced overheads compared with those operating a traditional shop. Also, when buying on the internet consumers are not constrained by the usual shop opening times.
Retail websites often include a search facility which quickly informs shoppers of stock availability and the expected delivery date. Orders are confirmed immediately, either on the website or by email, with further emails advising when the gift has been despatched.
Many online retailers also offer a gift-wrapping service so that presents can be sent directly to the recipient with an appropriate greeting. This is particularly useful if family or friends live abroad.
A potential problem of online shopping, however, is the risk of theft of debit- and credit-card details. Online retailers need to reassure customers that their payment system is secure and that all payment details are encrypted to reduce the possibility of identity theft.
One of the many advantages of shopping online is that retailers use courier services, which may be free of charge to the buyer. The parcel can be tracked online and the shopper is able to establish the approximate time of delivery.
Compensation cover is also offered, which is dependent upon the value of the item. This gives the consumer peace of mind, particularly if fragile goods have been ordered.
If the gift is unsuitable and needs to be returned, the customer is able to arrange for the courier to collect the parcel at a time convenient to them. This is done by booking online or telephoning the call centre.
The unlimited availability of online stores and courier services has provided the consumer with a greater choice of when and how they shop. Prices of gifts can be compared from the comfort of home. Parcels are delivered quickly and returns collected at a time to suit the customer.