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  • Writer's pictureMedha Pandey

What is Online Shopping? [The Only Guide You Need]

Updated: Jun 19

What is online shopping

Want to dig more into what is online shopping?

Imagine you need to buy a gift for a friend, but it's pouring rain outside. Besides, the stores aren't offering any discounts and no sales either.

And, to make it worse, the item you want isn't available locally, or you don't have the time to travel across town.

This is where online shopping steps in - it's like having your own personal shopping mall right at your fingertips.

You can browse, compare prices, and make purchases from the comfort of your home. It's convenient and efficient.

So let's learn "what is online shopping" from scratch! The article explains:

What is Online Shopping? Definition and Example

Online Shopping Definition

Online shopping is the act of buying goods or services over the internet using a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Instead of going to a physical store, you visit an online store's website or app. You browse items, add them to a virtual shopping cart, and complete your purchase by paying online. The items you buy are then delivered to your home.

Example of Online Shopping

Imagine you need a new pair of shoes. Instead of visiting multiple stores in your city, you open an app like Amazon on your phone. You search for "running shoes," scroll through the options, and find a pair you like.

You read the reviews, select your size, and add the shoes to your cart. Then, you proceed to checkout, pay using your preferred payment method, and in a few days, the shoes are delivered to your doorstep.

The Evolution of Online Shopping in India

Online shopping in India has been growing rapidly, and here are some key statistics from 2024:

How Online Shopping Works

Online Shopping Process

The online shopping process includes several steps:

1. Browsing Websites or Apps

Consumers start by browsing online stores through websites or mobile apps. These platforms categorize products to make navigation easy and provide search functions to help users quickly find specific items.

Advanced search options and filters allow users to refine their searches by price, brand, or product type.

2. Adding to Cart

After selecting an item, you add it to a virtual shopping cart. This cart temporarily holds multiple items until you’re ready to check out. The cart usually shows a summary of selected items, including price, quantity, and any discounts or offers.

3. Checkout Process

During checkout, you review your cart, confirm your order, and provide delivery details.

Many platforms offer a guest checkout option or let you create an account for a more personalized shopping experience. You can also apply promo codes or discount vouchers during this process to save money.

4. Payment Methods

In India, e-commerce platforms offer various payment methods:

  • Credit/Debit Cards: Convenient and secure.

  • Net Banking: Direct transfer from bank accounts.

  • UPI (Unified Payments Interface): Facilitates instant bank transfers.

  • Digital Wallets: Apps like Paytm and Google Pay make payments easy.

  • Cash on Delivery (COD): Popular for its simplicity and low risk.

5. Delivery Mechanisms

After payment, the product is processed for delivery. Delivery options include standard, expedited, or same-day, depending on your location and the seller’s logistics. Many platforms offer real-time tracking of shipments so you can monitor the status of your orders.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Shopping - Table

The table below shows the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping.

Advantages of Online Shopping

Disadvantages of Online Shopping


Security Concerns

Wide Range of Products

Product Quality Issues

Competitive Pricing

Lack of Personal Touch

Accessibility to Rural Areas

Customer Reviews

👓 Read Best Online Shopping Apps in India to discover the best shopping apps online.

Pros of Online Shopping - Real-life Examples


Imagine it’s 11 PM, and you suddenly remember you need a new phone charger. With online shopping, you don’t have to wait until morning or rush to a store. 

You can just grab your phone, search for a charger on Amazon or Flipkart, and place your order. The charger will be on its way to you while you get a good night’s sleep.

Wide Range of Products

Suppose you’re looking for a unique gift for a friend. Instead of driving to multiple stores, you can browse a vast selection of items online.

Websites like Nykaa and Myntra offer an incredible variety of products, from designer handbags to skincare kits. You can compare different brands, read reviews, and make an informed choice—all from the comfort of your couch.

Competitive Pricing

Imagine you’re shopping for a new laptop. In a physical store, you might find a decent deal. But online, you can browse different sites, find discount coupons, and compare prices across platforms like Amazon and Flipkart.

You might even stumble upon an exclusive online-only sale that lets you save a few thousand rupees.

what is online shopping

The number of times you can get cashback is unlimited. They also give up to 1500+ promo codes and 1000+ credit card offers. benny includes Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Nykaa, and Ajio, and many top online stores (160+ stores).

Besides it offers other perks like a Fashion finder tool.

Accessibility to Rural Areas

Think about living in a remote village where the nearest shopping mall is hours away. Online shopping bridges this gap.

For example, even if you live in a rural area, you can now buy school supplies, clothing, and even groceries through apps like BigBasket and Blinkit. They deliver to your doorstep, ensuring you have access to the same products as people in cities.

Customer Reviews

Picture yourself wanting to buy a new mixer grinder. Instead of relying on the salesperson’s pitch, you can read hundreds of reviews from people who’ve already bought and used the product.

This real-life feedback on platforms like Flipkart and Amazon can guide you in choosing a reliable product and avoiding potential disappointments.

Easy Exchange, Return, and Refund

Cons of Online Shopping - Real-life Examples

Security Concerns

Imagine you’re buying a new phone online and entering your credit card details on a website without verifying it.

If the site isn’t secure, hackers could steal your information. This can result in potential fraud or identity theft. Always look for secure payment methods and stick to trusted websites to keep your personal details safe.

Wondering how to ensure whether a shopping site or app is safe or not? Do exactly what you're doing now. Research.

Step 1: Before making a purchase search on Google, "best shopping app for (your product category)." Go through articles and their detailed reviews.

For example, if you want to buy clothes, search "best online shopping apps for clothes"...

If the article provides links to Google Play store reviews, quora reviews, etc. well and good. Go through them and decide the app you want to go for.

If not, your second step should be:

Step 2: Go through Google Playstore, Reddit, Quora, and Trust Pilot reviews. Also, go through their official website info.

If you feel the site or app could be trustworthy, go ahead and shop your products.

Product Quality Issues

Let’s say you order a trendy jacket that looks amazing in the online pictures. But when it arrives, the color is different, and the material feels cheap.

This can be really disappointing. Exchange and returns are available, but they can delay the purchase.

Reading reviews and checking the return policy before you buy can help avoid such letdowns.

However, the good thing is, the process of exchange, return, and refund in online shopping is much more smooth than offline shopping.

Lack of Personal Touch

Think about buying a pair of shoes. In a store, you can try them on to see if they fit and feel comfortable.

Online, you can’t do that. You might end up with shoes that don’t fit well or aren’t as comfortable as you expected. For items where fit and feel are important, visiting a store might be better.

Is Online Shopping Good or Offline? 

Online Shopping vs Offline Shopping Table

The table below compares online shopping to offline shopping based on certain aspects:


Online Shopping

Offline Shopping 


Shop anytime, anywhere, 24/7

Limited by store hours and location

Selection of Products

Wide range of products available, often more than physical stores.

Limited to what is stocked in the store.

Price Comparison

Easy to compare prices across different websites/apps.

Requires visiting multiple stores physically.

Pricing and Discounts

Often offers discounts, coupons, and exclusive online deals.

Relies on store promotions and sales.

Personal Interaction

No face-to-face interaction with salespeople.

Personal assistance and immediate answers to queries.

Try Before Buying

Unable to physically touch or try on products.

Can see, touch, and try products before purchasing.

Instant Gratification

Requires waiting for delivery, which can take hours to days.

Immediate possession of the purchased item.

Return and Exchange

Exchange, returns and refunds are smoother.

Shop owners don’t want to entertain refunds or returns. Exchange is only possible when stocks are available.

Shopping Experience

More solitary; relies on product reviews and descriptions.

More solitary; relies on product reviews and descriptions.

Environmental Impact

May involve packaging waste. 

May support local businesses and reduce packaging waste. 

Online shopping is convenient for its flexible hours, wide product variety, and easy price comparisons with discounts. It lacks personal interaction and physical product inspection but offers home delivery and easy online exchange, returns, and refunds. 

Offline shopping provides immediate help, lets you see products before buying, and lets you take items home right away. It supports local stores and reduces packaging waste but has fewer choices and price comparisons. 

Both impact the environment—online through packaging waste and offline by supporting local businesses.

Key Players in the Indian Online Shopping Market

Amazon India offers a vast selection of products ranging from electronics and fashion to groceries and home essentials.

It is known for its extensive inventory, fast Prime delivery, and reliable customer service. However, the quality of products can vary depending on different sellers.

Flipkart, a pioneer in Indian e-commerce, provides competitive pricing across categories like electronics, fashion, and home goods.

It hosts major sales events such as the Big Billion Days, offering substantial discounts.

Myntra specializes in fashion, offering a wide range of clothing, footwear, accessories, and home decor items.

It features exclusive brands and frequent sales, though some customers report delays in the returns process.

Nykaa is a prominent retailer of beauty and wellness products, offering a diverse selection of cosmetics, skincare, and personal care items.

It is known for its genuine products and reliable customer service, though discounts on certain products may be limited.

Ajio focuses on trendy fashion for men, women, and kids, along with footwear, accessories, and home essentials.

It emphasizes stylish collections, discounts during sales, and an easy returns policy. However, its network is not as extensive compared to other brands.

BigBasket is India’s largest online grocery store, providing a comprehensive range of groceries, beverages, personal care products, and household essentials.

It offers convenient same-day delivery options through a user-friendly app, though delivery slots may fill quickly during peak times.

Zepto specializes in delivering groceries, daily essentials, and household supplies directly to customers.

It focuses on competitive pricing, quick delivery, and regular discounts, although availability may vary in certain regions.

Meesho operates as a social commerce platform where individuals can buy fashion, accessories, electronics, and home decor products from small businesses and entrepreneurs.

It supports local sellers, though customers may experience variations in product quality and shipping times.

Swiggy started as a food delivery service and has expanded to offer groceries, medicines (Swiggy Health), and essential items (Swiggy Instamart).

It provides fast delivery and a wide range of food options; although service areas may be limited, and delivery fees may apply.

Online shopping and cashback apps such as benny partner with multiple e-commerce platforms. They offer special discounts and cashback on purchases.

They provide 2x more savings opportunities for users. They provide added cashback alongside coupons, sale discounts, and shopping offers.

Almost all the online stores mentioned above are available for shopping through benny with up to 40% cashback.

💡Recommended Reading: Best shopping app for women

Challenges and Concerns of Online Shopping in India

Online Shopping Security Concerns

It's critical to secure online transactions to prevent data breaches and cyber fraud. For example, using strong passwords and shopping on secure websites can protect personal information.

  • Reliability of Sellers Ensuring sellers are trustworthy is key to ensuring product authenticity. Platforms like Amazon verify sellers to maintain customer trust, reducing the risk of buying counterfeit goods.

  • Product Quality Issues Accurate product descriptions are essential to avoid disappointment. Reviews and ratings from other buyers help ensure you're getting what you expect, like checking customer feedback before purchasing.

  • Customer Service in E-commerce Good customer service resolves issues quickly. For instance, Nykaa's responsive support team helps customers with product inquiries and order concerns, ensuring a positive shopping experience.

  • Digital Divide in India Bridging the digital gap is crucial for inclusive shopping access. Initiatives like government schemes and mobile internet expansion projects help rural communities, like Digital India's efforts to connect villages to online services

➡️Also Check:

Key Takeaway on What is online shopping

Online shopping in India brings numerous benefits, such as convenience, diverse product choices, competitive prices, and easy accessibility. 

Despite these advantages, challenges like security risks, discrepancies in product quality, and the digital gap must be tackled for optimal growth. 

The leading players in the online shopping market are benny, Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Ajio, Nykaa, Bigbasket, Zepto, Meesho, and Swiggy.

As this sector evolves, both consumers and businesses can expect to thrive in this dynamic and expanding market.

what is online shopping

Commonly Asked Questions about Online Shopping

What is online shopping in simple words?

Online shopping is buying goods or services over the internet using a computer or smartphone. The products get delivered to your house within a couple of days to a week.

How is online shopping useful?

Online shopping is useful because it’s convenient, allows easy price comparisons, and offers access to a wide range of products from home. Exchange, returns, and refunds are smooth on online shopping platforms.

What is an online shopper?

An online shopper is a person who buys products or services over the internet.

What are the steps of online shopping?

The steps of online shopping include browsing products, adding items to the cart, checking out, making payments, and receiving delivery.

What are the benefits and risks of online shopping?

The benefits of online shopping include convenience, a wide range of products, and competitive pricing, or flexible returns and refunds. Risks include security issues and potential product discrepancies.

What is the future of online shopping?

The future of online shopping involves more advanced technologies, increased personalization, broader accessibility, and continued growth in digital payments and mobile shopping trends.


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