What are online shopping websites?


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What are online shopping websites?

Grandparents and grandkids enjoying their day together

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In this activity you will learn what online shopping websites are, and we will look at some of the broad range of options available to you when it comes to buying goods online.

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What is an online shopping website?

An online shopping website is a special website that lets you buy goods or services using your computer or smart device instead of visiting a physical shop or office.

You can browse for and compare items on the website, read product reviews, add items to a virtual shopping basket, pay for them electronically and have them delivered to your door.

A diagram showing the steps for buying groceries online and having them delivered to the front door.
The logos of major online retailers and marketplaces available to shop online in Australia.

What can I buy online?

You can shop online for a huge variety of goods and services, including food, clothes, movie tickets, insurance and just about anything else.

Well known high street shops, such as Myer, David Jones, Coles and Woolworths, to name but a few, also have online shopping websites where you can purchase the same products as they have in their physical stores.

Some shopping sites, such as Amazon and eBay, are only found online, and some online stores specialise in specific things, such as second-hand goods.

Why should I buy online?

There are several benefits to shopping online, including:

  • You can shop when it suits you, not just when the store is open.
  • You don't need to leave home.
  • There is often a greater variety of products available than in-store shopping.
  • It can be easier to compare prices.
  • You can browse and research goods for as long as you like, without feeling pressure to purchase anything.
  • You can use the internet to compare prices before heading into a store. Some retailers will match a fair price if you can find an identical item cheaper somewhere else.
A young man shopping online late one evening.
An icon of a padlock

eSafety Tip

While there are many benefits to shopping online, there are also disadvantages to bear in mind, including:

  • You can't try on clothing or footwear before you order them.
  • You can't touch or feel items before you buy them.
  • The colour of an item not look the same as it did on your computer screen.
  • While many places allow returns, it can be a bother to organise.
  • There may be fees associated with delivery or returns.
  • It may take days or longer for your purchase to arrive.
Selecting different types of apples from an online grocery shopping website.

Is it difficult to shop online?

It can be easy and convenient to shop online, once you know the rules for staying safe. From your computer or mobile device, you simply go to a shopping website and use its built-in search function to find the items you're after. Once you've selected your items, you can then pay securely using a choice of electronic purchasing methods.

You'll learn more about how to pay securely in the upcoming How to pay online course.

How do I receive my online purchases?

Shopping websites will deliver the items you purchase to your home. The cost of delivery varies, and often if you spend more than a specified amount there's no postage cost at all.

Some online stores also allow you to collect purchased items from a nominated location, such as a nearby supermarket or service station, to save on delivery fees. This is often called click and collect.

A delivery truck from the online store dropping off some groceries at the front door.
An icon of a padlock

eSafety Tip

When shopping on the internet, it's safer to purchase from sellers you can trust. This includes well-known online retailers, websites of traditional bricks-and-mortar stores and sellers with lots of positive online reviews from other buyers. You can also check unfamiliar sites using the handy Norton website checker at https://safeweb.norton.com.

Online shopping websites should also have https:// at the beginning of their web address, and the address bar should display a small padlock icon to indicate the connection to the website is encrypted to protect your data. It's important to always check for these safety tips before purchasing goods online.

The two different online shopping options: online stores and online marketplaces.

What kinds of online stores are there?

Most online stores are just like traditional retail shops, selling familiar goods and services or specialising in particular types of items, but others are more like online marketplaces. Just like a traditional marketplace, these types of shopping websites let you buy from a variety of stores and individual people on one website.

Many of these marketplace websites let you sell items too, and we'll be looking at selling items online in a later course.

How do I find online shopping websites?

You can access online shopping sites by typing in the store's web address into your web browser on your computer or mobile device. You can also start your search by opening your web browser and typing in the name of a product and your locality e.g. 'garden furniture Darwin', and look through the list of results that the search engine returns.

Many shopping sites also have an app designed to make browsing and buying from the small screen of your phone or tablet easier to manage.

You can access online shopping on computers and smart devices.
A mum and daughter shop online together using a smart phone.

Well done!

This is the end of the What are online shopping websites? activity. You have learned that you can buy almost anything online and have it delivered to your home.

In the next activity, Where can I buy and sell online? you'll learn about the difference between an online store and an online marketplace.