7 Ecommerce Tips for the Online Buyer
Below are some ecommerce tips
to diffuse the web of temptation laid by Internet merchants. Granted this website is geared toward you as an online website owner and not a visitor, but as online commerce is gaining rapid popularity, keep these tips in mind when you find yourself on the other side of the fence:
- Always research the website you are buying from. A simple way of going about this is typing in the website’s name on a search engine like Google and reading a few links that discuss the website. You should also look for discussion forums and bulletin boards on which others have expressed their opinions about the website. Finally, contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see any complaints against the business. Keep researching until you reach the level of confidence required for you to make a purchase.
- Always look for the extra “s” when shopping online or providing confidential information. When you enter a webpage that requires you to input personal/confidential information or to make a purchase, you should notice that the URL of the page change from “http” to “https”. For example if you are about to purchase a bottle of perfume from http://www.whateverperfumestore.com, you will see the URL change to https://www.whateverperfumestore.com when you reach a webpage requiring you to input personal information or to make a payment.
The additional “s” assures that your information is secured through encryption technology. Additionally, look for a padlock symbol on the bottom right hand corner of your web browser to further ensure your information is secured
- Keep your budget in mind. It is very easy to get carried away shopping online because of the ease and wonderful bargains available. Our Internet browsers don’t have the capability yet of aggregating your shopping totals if you are shopping on multiple sites simultaneously. To avoid going overboard, always keep an open tab offline to keep track of your indulgences.
- Be very careful of additional shopping offers when checking out. Many websites offer suggestions of items that you may also want or need based on your purchasing pattern. Websites collect data from other buyers and relay to you similar items that other buyers like you have bought in the past. Many sites that don’t have this intricacy simply throw other items at you as “recommended” items to buy along with your purchase. Control your impulses when this happens as you can quickly bust your bank when you bite into this strategy.
- Try to find bargain hunter sites if you are looking for the best deal. There are many websites now that are solely in business to provide you with what you are looking for at the best price. These sites search the entire Internet and report to you businesses that are selling the product you are looking for. You can then sort these businesses by price and other parameters. A good example of this is Deal News, my personal favorite. Whenever I am in need of electronics, I simply go to Deal News and search for the item I am looking for and make a purchase within minutes after researching and comparing the results. If you are looking for electronics online, CNET is a very good resource for your research and user comments.
- Always check shipping and return policies prior to making a purchase. Many sites will lure you in with free shipping offers. A lot of these offers require a minimum purchase amount, which may or may not be disclosed upfront. Watch for the fine print. You don’t want to spend time picking your items only to realize later that you need to put one additional item in your shopping cart to qualify for free shipping. Make sure you know how to return the product if it doesn’t meet your needs.
Many online shoppers that have brick and mortar locations allow you to make returns at the physical location. This will save you shipping charges. Other businesses that do not have physical stores on the ground may or may not charge you a restocking fee. Make sure you are clear on restocking charges in terms of what you can or cannot do with the product before returning it. I was once charged a 15% restocking fee for returning an item that was incorrectly sent to me. I didn’t even open the box! Shipping charges on the return are mostly your responsibility as the customer.
- The biggest advice I have for online shoppers is to always use your credit cards when making payments. Most credit cards have very good consumer protection programs in place that will entitle you to a full refund if anything goes wrong with your online transaction. In an instance of a dispute between you and the online retailer, credit card companies mostly will favor you, the customer.