Online shopping has become a lifesaver for those who tire of traffic jams, packed parking lots and more
Tips to ensure that your online shopping experience will be safe, secure, and successful
WE are living in a well-connected world, and with the mushrooming of virtual shopping portals, consumers these days are spoilt for choice when it comes to taking their shopping online.
With hardcore Malaysian shopaholics at the forefront of this trend, online shopping has become a lifesaver for those who tire of braving the ever-present traffic jams, packed parking lots, and nonplussed shop assistants. If you’ve ever been caught in a mob of shoppers or agonizingly-long checkout queues, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
With Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is time for many of us to start thinking of gifts for family, friends and loved ones.
Here’s a handy list of tips to ensure that your online shopping experience will be a safe, secure, and successful one.
1) Know who you’re buying from
In the online world, everything revolves around credibility and reliability. Choose certified online shopping sites with a solid e-commerce reputation, where you can shop with a guarantee that you’re buying products directly from legitimate merchants.
You don’t want to end up with products that are fake or of lower quality; or even worse, purchases that fall through and leave you empty-handed.
2) Know what you’re buying
Always read the details before making a purchase. A good online shopping site will provide you with as much information as possible about the product, as well as their terms and conditions. Whether it’s shipping costs or the return and exchange policy, always make sure that you know all the details before committing to buying anything. Don’t let the fine print fool you.
3) Get rewarded for your purchase
Take advantage of websites that offer loyalty programs, where customers can accumulate points with each purchase and use them as a discount for their next purchase.
Some sites offer a discount when you sign up for the first time, use a certain credit card, or recommend a friend, so keep that in mind. Occasionally, bonus points are rewarded during promotional campaigns during festive periods, so do keep an eye out for that too!
4) See what others are saying
A lot of people shy away from online shopping because they can’t see, touch, feel or try the product themselves. One way to tackle this is to read reviews of the product or to try find out the experience of other customers.
Reviews by previous buyers will be the best indication of what the product is actually like in reality.
Another way to do this is by checking out community sharing sites like Pinterest, where other users can curate boards of their favorite products, by category. This can help you narrow down your search or find similar products that you might like.
5) Keep the receipt
Just like making a purchase in a physical store, it’s good to keep the e-receipt for your online purchases. If the item is not quite what you expected, your proof of purchase will make it easier to exchange, return it or get a refund.
6) Factor in shipping costs
The actual price of the product might be cheap, but shipping costs can be a silent killer. Don’t forget to factor in the added cost for shipping, especially for an overseas shipment.
Another thing to watch out for is the possibility of extra fee for taxes, depending on where the product is shipped from. All these add-ons can sometimes amount to more than the cost of the actual product!
7) Check bank statements
Don't wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the festive season and look at electronic statements for your billing accounts. Make sure you don't see any fraudulent charges.
You can never be too safe when it comes to keeping your personal finances secure.
With these quick tips, you’ll be more than ready for your next online shopping experience.
Masaya Ueno is president and chief executive officer of Rakuten Online Shopping.
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