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How Does Online Shopping Work?

written by: wendyppp•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/29/2011

Many people are new to online shopping and don't really know how it works. Here we'll explain how it all works so that new online shoppers can feel confident in their online shopping activities.

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    From a user’s point of view online shopping is pretty straight forward. However, if you want to know how online shopping works on the back end then keep reading. Online shopping has three major steps outlined simply as find what you want, enter in your address and other information, and make the purchase.

    How Does Online Shopping Work from a Website?

    The website is like a storefront for a business, with all of their merchandise displayed on their website. Also to make things easier all the merchandise is usually categorized into categories. Like for instance clothes will be categorized into men’s clothing and women’s clothing, shoes into men’s footwear and women’s foot wear etc.

    So How Does Online Shopping Work When You are Looking for Something?

    Almost every online store has a search option which allows you to find exactly what you are looking for. For instance, you can enter in the term “shirts" into a store’s search bar and the website’s search engine will give you a list of all the shirts that are available. You can then click on what you want to know more about and read the details relating to the shirt like the sizes available, colors, etc.

    How Does Online Shopping Work When You Find What You Want?

    When you have found what you are looking for you add that item to your shopping cart. The virtual shopping cart acts like a real shopping cart in which you can put any thing you want. On many commercial websites close to each item you will find an icon of a shopping cart with the tag ‘add to cart’ you then click on the icon and the item will then be added to your cart. You continue doing this until you have finished shopping.

    What Happens Last?

    What happens at the very end is you click on the icon that says check out. The check out system works exactly as a traditional shopping store were you take your shopping cart to the counter and the store clerk then begins to add things up so you can pay for it. However, unlike a traditional store check out does not take a long time no matter how much you have added to your cart. It will present you with a grand total of all items and the option to remove what you don’t want. You then enter in your address and credit card information and the items you purchased is then shipped to you.