10 tips for safe online shopping
The Internet has changed our shopping habits. Many people find the convenience of online shopping to be a great experience. You can easily click and view the product. You have fun shopping, browsing, reading and learning about products. And you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to fight traffic, crowds and queues to buy the perfect gift for your recipient.
No wonder Internet business generated $301 billion in revenue last year, according to a University of Texas estimate.
If you were to compare online versus offline shopping, you would think that when it comes to security, it would be in favor of offline shopping, right? Not exactly.
In the past, shoppers were more reluctant to shop online – now things have changed significantly. And this consumer confidence directly reflects the huge growth in online sales.
I have a friend who took his wife out for a romantic evening at a local restaurant. The last place you would expect credit card fraud to happen. By the time he noticed that he had been charged double for their dinner, it was too late to return to the restaurant. He called me and we concluded that it must be a mistake. We later found out that the restaurant owner’s reputation was a bit shaky. Apparently, he often overcharged customers in the hope that they wouldn’t notice.
I do not know. It’s a funny world we live in.
Does this mean the internet is safe? Relatively yes, but remember that the Internet is an open field and there are some bad elements out there.
We have been shopping online for years. We have never had a problem with credit card fraud on the Internet. But again, we always take precautions. From this point on, you will see 10 checkpoints that online merchants must go through to secure our business…
Will your credit card details be safe?
Reputable online companies know that one of the things that prevents customers from placing orders with them is that customers are not sure if their credit card details will be safe. Responsible companies have accepted this concern and set up their systems to provide the customer with maximum security.
How would you know if you’re entering your payment details on a secure page?
You should see a picture of a lock on the bottom right of the screen. This lock will appear on the page you fill out when ordering and ensures that your name, address and credit card information is sent to the online store via an encrypted code. This encrypted code means a hacker won’t be able to steal your credit card information.
Does the online store value your privacy and confidentiality?
Before the internet days, when I ordered something from a mail order company, I would mysteriously get ads from companies I had no business with. I didn’t know at the time that companies sell your personal information for advertising purposes to other companies.
Getting junk mail was annoying, but because of the costs involved, it didn’t happen all the time. Now imagine doing business online with a company that doesn’t respect your privacy and sells your email address.
The next time you open your email software, you are bombarded with emails ranging from a dozen to hundreds. Now this isn’t annoying – it’s intolerable.
So the moral of the story here is that your email address will not be sold. Make sure the online store has a privacy statement stating that it will keep your personal data in the strictest privacy and confidentiality.
Does the online store have contact details?
You might think of course that an online store would display their contact details on their website. You will be surprised. I was. No email address, nothing. This is a surefire red flag.
Reputable companies will have contact details.
Do they have a refund policy?
Offline stores have a refund policy and you go into the store, physically select the product and then you have the right to return it for any reason. If the refund policy is important for offline stores, it is twice as important for online stores.
The internet surpasses the offline world in convenience when it comes to shopping – but one thing that cannot be compared is that offline you can physically touch the product. Hence the 30 day refund policy is great, more is better. There is no refund policy and I would stay away.
Do they send you any confirmation when you place your order?
When you place your order, what you need is something to tell you they received it, a receipt if you will.
A reputable company will either email you one or display a new page on their website where they thank you and tell you that your order went well and your product is on its way.
When do they deliver?
What time do they deliver during the day? Do they deliver on weekends? Can you choose a delivery time for your gift? Will it be personally delivered to the recipient or will the courier drop it off at their door?
How will your gift arrive?
If there are flowers, will it come with a vase or in a nice box or wrapped? Will your bouquet contain flower care instructions? How about some flower food to make your flowers last longer?
If you ordered another product as a gift, will it be wrapped? What material will they supply it from? Do they tell you these things on their website?
How long have they been in business?
That might not mean too much. There are companies that start out and surpass everyone else. But maybe for your peace of mind you might want to use an online store that has been around for a few years. Checking the company’s history is easy.
You can go to networksolutions.com and click “whois” in the top bar. You will be taken to a page where you can enter the web address of the online store you want to check and you will get the relevant information.
Is the online store site easy to use?
Is navigation easy? Are products easy to search for? Do their graphics download in a reasonable amount of time? A sure sign of an amateur view is if their website is cluttered with information.
Did they get bad reviews?
You don’t need a reputable company that doesn’t have bad reviews to its name. It is practically impossible to please everyone.
There have been companies I’ve bought from and liked. So sometimes I am surprised when I come across a bad review of their products or even bad comments about them.
So when is a bad comment about a company worth considering? I note the reviews where the writer complains about:
- does not receive the product
- does not receive a refund
- no response to their emails
If you want to see what reviews a company might have, click alexa.com. When you get to the website, enter the address of the store you want to browse. This will also show you how long the company has been around.
Online shopping is fun. Take some care and make it an experience! Happy shopping!
#tips #safe #online #shopping