The unstoppable rise of the internet has revolutionized shopping habits for millions and millions of people who have online access through a computer, tablet – such as an iPad ­– mobile phone, games machine or television.


The sheer ubiquity of devices that allow people to connect almost instantaneously to the World Wide Web and the vast choice of shopping opportunities to be found there means that online stores must compete fiercely against rivals. That means they not only have to produce quality goods and services – dissatisfied purchasers will quickly go elsewhere and let their social media connections know about their experience in no uncertain terms – but they also have to compete on price in particular.


The tech transformation


It wasn’t that long ago that the High Street ruled supreme in terms of retailing. It was understandable – there weren’t many other options, apart from catalogues – and so much time was spent browsing, for example, clothes shops, gadget shops for mobile phones (great clunky machines in the early days), hi-fi and home entertainment equipment.


There are certainly many shoppers who like to take their time looking at products in a pleasant store environment and perhaps talk to a knowledgeable sale person about specific products. But the growth of online retailing has made a huge dent to takings on the High Street because consumers can so easily get all the information they need from sites and search for bargains without leaving the home.


Anyone who has traipsed around a shop wondering what the best bargain buys are – and for high tech gadgets there will almost always be something on “special offer” – the internet offers instant comparisons as to prices and tech specs for gadgets.


The financial transformation


In the end, it’s all about the money. Online transactions such as with always have protections in place so that a consumer doesn’t lose out if there are problems with a product or service received. However, it’s essential to read the small print of the Terms and Conditions to understand exactly what those protections are, as they can differ for retailer to retailer. It’s important to be clear about this and possess knowledge about legal rights.


It’s unfortunate that there are people out there just looking to scam, so it’s best to go for websites that are either well known brand leaders or ones that have a high level of security – there are plenty of good ones out there.


Remember too that any company advertising on the internet is only after one thing: money. That’s why it pays to shop around and take time that might have been spent wandering the High Street to check out what’s available in the product area you’re interested in.


Secure financial transactions online have transformed how quickly and easily business is done. With the way online banking has taken off, it is no longer necessary for many people to go into a physical branch of a bank or other financial institution. The development of services to hugely reduce the cost of transferring money from one currency to another, such as Transferwise, have made paying and moving money much easier and cheaper, as well as giving instant access to accounts and investments.


Changing markets and more choice


Retailers know their markets and know how fickle they can be. The profusion of high tech gadgets can be something of a minefield for consumers trying to find out what will suit them best and not cost a fortune. Of course, there are many people who are happy to look at the top end of the market for their gadgets and always want the newest version, be it a tablet, a phone, a computer or a games machine. Anyone who just wants a good, reliable gadget that effectively does what it says on the tin has plenty of choice in a crowded market.


Comparison sites are the first port of call to check on the variety of retailers offering high tech gadgets and what they are charging. It pays to read the Terms and Conditions of course, and look for a retailer offering a good deal. It may not be the cheapest, but there may well be free accessories, a good guarantee and free shipping. Remember too that some international brands may offer reduced prices for UK buyers.


The key to getting affordable high tech gadgets is to do careful research and make a decision based on logic and preferably not “I want this whatever the cost.” Though if the latter option floats the boat, then that’s an individual choice, but potentially a lot more expensive.