Online shopping: Convenient or a hassle?


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Kelly Langin

“Hi there,” the email begins. “I just wanted to send a quick note to thank you for your interest in thredUP.”

The email, sent from online consignment company thredUP’s CEO, James Reinhart, about why he started his business, eventually trying to entice me to revisit his website with a code good for 20 percent off my next purchase.

I visited thredUP’s site for a few minutes last week, which triggered the email response from the company to get me to return to the website. I had to enter my email address to even enter the site, and I wonder how many other sites I’ve mindlessly entered information for in order to gain access to browsing their products.

It’s a humbling thought. How long do online companies hold on to that information, and what other information could they gather?

A couple years ago, I paid for a product online that turned out to be a scam. Because the company had my card information, they could charge me $100 whenever they wanted to keep me a part of this “program” that I apparently signed up for. It was in the fine print for the product, so it was legal.

The nightmare didn’t stop until my bank cancelled my card, and I even got some of the money refunded back to me. The experience was a lesson in trusting the Internet with financial information.

PayPal makes online shopping easier by skipping the few steps of entering in a credit card number and sometimes even the shipping address. Only one company has access to my bank information – which is still scary and poses the threat of hackers reaching my account, but at least it’s confined to only one company.

Barring from card-charging horror, online shopping does make the shopping experience generally more convenient. It saves time driving from store to store and browsing racks and shelves. Beyond that, websites allow companies to sell products they may not have room to stock in-store.

University of Nebraska at Omaha student Pat Reilly wears a larger size in footwear that often don’t get stocked in physical stores. He said in his experience, shoe sizes vary from brand to brand but he’s unable to try them on in-store.

“That’s why I have essentially bought the same pair of New Balances for the last three years,” Reilly said.

For local stores Hello Holiday and Scout Dry Goods and Trade, the online store sells the same items held in-store. With both stores, Omaha-area customers have the option to skip the shipping price and pick up the products at the store.

This begs the question, why not just skip the online transaction and just shop in-store if you’re going to visit the store anyway?

Sometimes it’s the immediacy of the transaction that entices buyers. Instagram said an item, perfectly photographed in bright lighting, was limited in stock. Go to the website, snag the product before it’s sold out and pick up your purchase at your convenience.

Online shopping has also given way to self-selling, or giving individuals the tools to sell their own products online. Websites like thredUP and Etsy have emerged from a market that has become comfortable with paying people, not companies, for homemade or used items.

Omaha resident Camille Pala uses Poshmark and Depop to sell clothing she no longer wears online. She said she prefers selling on her own as opposed to a local consignment store because of the payout.

“You make a lot more money online,” Pala said. “A pair of pants you would make $5 in Scout, you could get easily $25 for online.”

Pala said that although she has to put more time into self-selling online, she said it’s worth it to participate in a “huge clothing swap” with other girls.

“It’s nice to feel like these things aren’t all going to waste,” she said.

Poshmark takes 20 percent of all sales over $15 while Depop takes a flat 10 percent commission.