There are several ways the Internet saves everybody money – buyers, sellers, and even those not merchandising or shopping. Here’s how…
There are the obvious ways, of course. Amazon, eBay, and other sites provide huge discounts over retail on thousands of items. Even major new books, which continued to rise in price for decades, have now come down from over $30 for a hardcover to under $10 for reading on a Kindle. Other examples could be listed by anyone until their keyboards wore out.
There are less obvious ways the Internet makes for inexpensive shopping.
Just the savings in gasoline alone would add up to a sizable amount over a year’s time, even adding in shipping costs (which are often waived). Add in tire wear and engine wear, fewer trips to the car wash, etc. and the lower cost of vehicle use becomes plain to see.
Beyond the hard cash conserved, the time saved makes everyone richer, starting with the shopper. The shopper has more time to do other things, which can be used to save even more by looking for bargains, for example. That shopper also now has time for other, more important things that add enjoyment to life.
It isn’t just shoppers who benefit, though. The lower costs are a boon to everyone. Merchants can save huge amounts on advertising and inventory by selling over the web. They can split the profits with affiliates, which puts more money in the pockets of both parties through increased sales. That also gives shoppers more places to buy, which increases competition, putting more downward pressure on prices.
The benefits extend beyond the immediate lowering of prices. By selling over the Internet, lower merchant costs free up money that can be used to invest in creating and producing new things, or finding ways to lower the price of old things.
It isn’t just huge corporations that gain from that, either. There are now millions of new small businesses, many of them 1-2 person outfits, that couldn’t afford to even start a business otherwise. The lower costs and wide distribution of the web make possible thousands of shopping options for consumers that didn’t exist as recently as 10 years ago. Once again, everybody benefits.
Much as we sometimes grumble about Google, Yahoo, and other search engine providers, they too have played a big role in making the Internet an inexpensive marketplace for everyone. It would be near impossible to find thousands of little-known merchants to get a great deal without search engines. Word of mouth can only spread after you bring some mouths to the site to begin with.
Also, there have to be enough people who find you so that the chain of recommendations continues. Too few customers and you never reach that critical threshold that makes it possible to stay in business long enough to get more.
The Internet has made selling and buying less expensive for everyone in dozens of ways. It has saved everyone who uses it literally billions over the past 10 years in what they would otherwise have spent. And, as Internet shopping continues to grow as a percentage of sales (and in absolute terms), that savings will get even bigger in the years to come.