Besides that, the Costco site is very much like the Omegaxl site in that any additional information is provided through clicking a link; this is unlike Amazon where all the information is presented on the same page. Costco provides no immediate facility at the primary page for checkout or purchase. Hence, to do so requires that you select the item and them you are given checkout or purchasing options.
The shopping experience on the Costco site is the dullest of the three some may say it is the simplest. While the user experience is not bad it is arduous, as you have to make one click too many to access the information you really want. The absence of testimonials or product reviews on the main page is a letdown and the site could do more to provide product reviews, which assist in decision making. When shopping online, product reviews and testimonials are extremely important because you are not physically able to touch the product, and must depend on the largely inaccurate graphical representation provided by the seller.
The Amazon site was chosen as the site to purchase the product. I first added the product to my shopping cart. I was then asked if I was ready to checkout or wanted to continue my shopping experience. I checked out. At this point, I was invited to supply personal information and credit information. This section allowed me to also start a new account if I so desired. I continued the process up until actual payment. The ease of online shopping was incredible. One of the best features is the ability to select the shipping time and mechanism. These elements give more control to the shopper and you get what you want when you want. The Amazon experience was delightful and throughout the entire process, I felt that the information I provided was safe and would be used properly.
There are some critical differences between this online experience and the in store experience. The most telling is that of the lack of physical contact with the item being purchased. When you purchase an item in a store, you are able to examine it for quality and for appropriateness in terms of what you are looking for. The online purchase has no such tactile element. The determination of the quality and hence suitability and durability of the item is completely based on the reviews experts and the testimonials of prior customers. Where this is absent the shopping experience is limited. It increases the possibility that you can purchase a product and be complete dissatisfied with your purchase.
The other element absent from the online experience is the interface with an actual human. In store shopping if you do not understand or you can't find something you can ask a human. This social experience is useful and at time frustrating. The interaction with other humans allows us to develop and hone our social skills. You can also make new friends at the checkout counter as you meet other people checking out. The in store shopping has a social dimension that is complete absent from the online experience.
The online experience shines in two areas. The first area is the ease of checkout. There are no line and no waiting. If you are able to upload your information easily, you would generally have no problem. For the individual who does not like to wait in lines then the online shopping provides a quick and easy escape from that drudgery. The second benefit is the access to easy comparison and product reviews. This translates into better value for money to the customer (Keeney, 1999 p.534). These elements deepen the shopping experience as you can acquire more information about a product before you buy. You are also able to compare that product to other similar products, this gives the consumer wider choice (Lal & Sarvary 1999, p. 486). This all take place instantly and without much difficulty. There are differences between the experiences but for those who are interested in avoiding lines and getting comprehensive information about a product before you purchase online is the way to go.
Brynjolfsson Erik & Smith Michael D. (2000). Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers Management Science, 46(4):563-585
Danaher, P.J., Wilson, I.W., & Davis, R.A. (2003). A Comparison of Online and Offline