New technologies and ways of buying and selling are transforming the lives of consumers.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
New technologies, and in particular the Internet, are undoubtedly having a major impact on the way goods and services are bought and sold. In many countries. Buying products online has become a mainstream activity. Now in the UK, for example, roughly 12 per cent of all retail trade is conducted on line. While some maintain that the actual impact of the Internet on shopping is negligible. I would argue that it is in fact quite significant for two main reasons.
The first main reason is that the development of online shopping has meant that the market for goods available to the individual has grown exponentially. It is possible to buy virtually anything from what has effectively become a world-wide retail market: exotic foods, art works, rage books, adventure holidays: the list is endless. Products that were once only available to those who lived in large cosmopolitan cities with a wide variety of shops can now be bought by those living in small towns with few local amenities.
Another significant reason is that the buyer can have more control over the process. Price comparison websites make it easier to find bargains. Shopping can be done at any time of the day or night, and shoppers can browse for as long as they like without pressure from sales assistants. This means that shoppers can potentially become more astute and knowledgeable about the products they are buying. Because of the greater competition involved in trading within a large market, sellers may have to improve the quality of their products.
In short, experience suggests that online shopping has shifted the balance of power in favour of the consumer. Consumers not only have wider access to goods but also greater access to information and more control over how they shop.