Skip to main content
Select Source:



Shopping involves the purchasing of products by consumers, all of which fall into various shopping product categories that are based on the way consumers think of them and purchase them. The two main categories are convenience goods and shopping goods; two lesser categories are specialty items and unsought goods. Although most shopping products are sold in stores, such as retail, grocery, and specialty stores, some consumer purchases are made through other means, such as catalogue shopping, telemarketing, and online purchasing (also known as cybershopping). Cybershopping is the latest trend in consumer shopping. It is estimated that $300 billion worth of online purchases will be made in the first decade of the twenty-first century.


Convenience goods are goods that consumers purchase frequently, immediately, and with minimal effort. People do not spend a large amount of time shopping for convenience items. They are usually purchases made routinely, such as buying groceries on a weekly basis, or habitually, such as purchasing a daily newspaper. Convenience products include common staples, such as milk and bread. Some convenience goods, however, are not purchased routinely or habitually. They are bought on impulse, such as an ice cream cone on a summer day. Many impulse items are displayed in a manner that encourages quick choice and purchase, such as the candy, magazines, and batteries that are routinely placed near the cash register at checkout counters. Other convenience products may be purchased as emergency items, when the consumers feel there is an urgent need, such as buying candles, water, or canned goods when preparing for a storm. Convenience products can be found in stores such as supermarkets, convenience stores, and department stores.


Shopping goods are items consumers will conduct a search for in order to find the one that best suits their needs. They usually require an involved selection process. When purchasing a shopping product, consumers will compare a variety of attributes, such as suitability, quality, price, and style. Automobiles are often bought this way. Consumers may also visit a number of shopping places, such as retail stores, before they make a decision. Because of the importance of these types of purchases, consumers usually invest considerable time and energy before making such a purchase.

Shopping products are broken down into two categories: homogeneous and heterogeneous. Homogeneous shopping goods are those that are similar in quality but different in other characteristics. This difference in characteristics is sufficient for the customer to justify a search for the item. Items that are thought of as homogeneous, or the same, would include television sets, various home appliances, or automobiles. Homogeneous shopping goods are also often evaluated on price. After the consumer has decided on desired characteristics, he or she then looks for the most favorable price.

Heterogeneous shopping goods have product features that are often more important to consumers than price; examples include clothing, high-tech equipment, and furniture. The item purchased must meet certain consumerset criteria, such as size, color, or specific functions performed. When buying heterogeneous shopping goods, consumers often seek information and advice from sales-people and other experts before purchasing the item. The seller or retailer of heterogeneous shopping goods needs to carry a sufficient variety of the products to suit individual tastes and also needs well-trained salespeople to inform and advise consumers.


Specialty items have characteristics that compel consumers to make special efforts to find them. Consumers often do not consider price at all when shopping for specialty products, which can include almost any kind of shopping product, including particular types of food, expensive imported cars, or items from a well-known fashion designer or manufacturer that can all be considered specialty goods. Usually, specialty goods have a brand name or other type of distinguishing characteristic. Shopping goods are often classified as specialty products based on the location and need of the consumer. For example, some olive oils or wines may be a convenience product in Italy but a specialty product in the United States. Consumers who favor specialty products may travel considerable distances to purchase a particular item. These types of shopping products can often be found in specialty stores, which carry a large assortment within a small line of goods. An example would be a store that carries only candy, but many different types of candy. Other types of specialty stores include bookstores and sporting goods stores.

Unsought Goods

Unsought goods are products that consumers do not want, use, or even think about purchasing. An unsought shopping good could be a product that a consumer may not even know aboutor knows about but has never considered purchasing. In addition, consumers often put off purchasing unsought shopping goods because they do not consider them to be important. Unsought shopping goods are frequently brought to customers' attention through advertising, promotions, or chance. Sometimes they are something new on the market, such as digital telephones. At other times they are fairly standard services that some consumers would not bother shopping for, such as life insurance.

see also Consumer and Business Products


"Council of Better Business Bureau." Better Business Bureau Online. Retrieved October 29, 2005, from June 2000.

Encyclopedia Britannica. May 2000.

Heinzl, John (2000, June). "Year in Review 1998." Internet Retailing.

Audrey E. Langill

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Shopping." Encyclopedia of Business and Finance, 2nd ed.. . 21 Nov. 2017 <>.

"Shopping." Encyclopedia of Business and Finance, 2nd ed.. . (November 21, 2017).

"Shopping." Encyclopedia of Business and Finance, 2nd ed.. . Retrieved November 21, 2017 from


shop·ping / ˈshäping/ • n. [often as adj.] the purchasing of goods from stores: a busy shopping area. ∎  goods bought from stores, esp. food and household goods: I unloaded all the shopping.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"shopping." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 21 Nov. 2017 <>.

"shopping." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . (November 21, 2017).

"shopping." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved November 21, 2017 from