In this article, we’ve accumulated all the known online shopping tips and prepared a guide to them for you. Beginners will be able to find and order what they dream of, and experienced shoppers will get valuable information about discounts, safe card payments, and various force majeure situations.
Step 1: Choose where
The typical fear of an online shopping pioneer: “The web is full of scammers: I’ll pay and get nothing!”.
In fact, this is not true. If the site and the firm have a reputation, they value it very much: it will cost a lot more to screw the buyer. Another thing is “opened yesterday” companies. Here they are just to be avoided.
How do you distinguish one from the other? It’s simple: choose only large and well-known sites for shopping. If you want to be even safer: do not click on sites marked “Ads” or “Advertisement” at the top of the search, but only on those that are present in the organic results in top-10, top-20. Why? Because such companies have definitely been around for years.
Another question people have when shopping online is: “Where to buy: in Europe, Asia or America? Would it be cheaper to order directly from China?”.
There is no simple answer to this question. On the one hand Chinese sites offer the lowest prices today. But the figures do not take into consideration your local duties and taxes, which still have to pay. In addition, the risks of buying goods of inadequate quality on Chinese sites are much higher than on American and European sites.
Also keep in mind shipping costs. It varies a great deal depending on where you are located in the store or where you bought the goods from. Some major Asian retailers have free shipping to EU countries. But they are very few. So you will probably have to go to an resellers.
Another tip: be sure to read reviews of online stores and do it on blogs, forums and social networks, rather than on the firm’s website itself. If negative reviews prevail about the site, then refuse to buy from that site. Buy only from reputable stores.
Step 2: Choose when
The typical fear of an online shopping pioneer: “It’s expensive. Pay for the order, pay for shipping, pay the reseller… Arghh!”.
Well, I’ve got good news for you – it’s all avoidable. Just pick the right time.
“Black Friday” kicks off the Christmas sales. It’s the first Friday after Thanksgiving (falls somewhere between November 23 and 29). On this day, discounts reach 80%, and people line up at the stores in the evening.
“Cyber Monday” is the Monday after Black Friday. On this day, the price collapse occurs in online stores: when people come to work, they continue to buy more gifts. There are certain rules for shopping on Cyber Monday.
There are also closed sales. These are short-term promotions by online stores for registered users, during which discounts of up to 90% are announced. The motives of sellers are quite clear: the desire to sell unclaimed goods and conditionally free PR.
In addition, online stores often time sales to coincide with holidays. Thus, on the first Monday in September in the U.S. Labor Day is celebrated. On that day, clothing stores offer large discounts. Asian retailers cut prices on the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year, which falls between January 21 and February 21).
Step 3: Choose what
Typical fear of the online shopping pioneer: “I buy blindly, and the thing may not fit my body, may not fit into the interior…”.
Well, these problems can be solved today too. Most major online stores today offer a service Return of Goods or Trial Period. In addition, when ordering clothes or shoes, sellers are ready to bring you a few things to try on.
To find the right model, use the site search – it can be much more convenient than the menu. Also use filters to make your search easier. Usually items are sorted by price, size, color, and other parameters.
When you have decided on a store, register or log in through social networks (but if you use a pseudonym on Facebook or Twitter, be sure to edit your profile: you will have to show your passport when receiving a package). Use subscriptions and apps for online shopping. They will help you not only to find the thing you want, but also to save money when buying and to track the delivery.
Always read the product description carefully: material, characteristics, dimensions, weight and so on. And keep in mind that item in the photo may be visually different from the one in life! But why is it so? It’s not conscious deception of the buyer, just pictures for the catalog make professional photographers, they adjust the light, color, focus, and other things to make the thing looked more beautiful than it really is.
You have to be especially careful with the clothes. Have you seen photos a la “expectation and reality”? To avoid such blunders, be honest with yourself and don’t buy things that don’t fit.
Online shoppers often have problems with clothing sizes. The difficulty is that sizes can vary not only from country to country, but also from brand to brand. So be sure to use size charts. All major online stores have them. Keep a tailor’s tape handy. It will help you determine your size correctly. Finally, read the comments of other users. They write that the thing is “smaller then described”? Take a size larger.
Step 4: Ordering
The typical fear of an online shopping pioneer: “I don’t know anything about this, I’ll click the wrong thing again”.
In fact, all online stores have roughly the same interface: on the product card there are “Buy” and “Put in cart” buttons. In the first case you go straight to the window with your bank card details and simply enter them and click “Pay”. In the second case you are redirected to a window with a list of desired products, which you can see again and if you want to reject them.
Fill out the order form in the language of the seller. Provide a valid phone number and email so that the store manager can contact you if necessary. Do not ignore the checkbox, if there is one.Include your special requests, such as: “Double layer of bubble wrap, please.
When entering your personal information, make sure that the address of the site in the browser bar is the same (for example, “nike.com” if you buy Nike and not some other, not “nike.co” or “nyke.com”). Also make sure that you are on a secure page (should be in the browser line “https” word or a special icon “clicked lock”). This is one of the basic rules of security when shopping online.
Step 5: Paying
Typical fear of the online shopping pioneer: “They’re asking for my card number. No way!”.
It’s actually not that easy to charge your card without your knowledge. You have to repeatedly confirm your intentions by entering your billing information, CVV, SMS code and other data that only you know. Without these, the debit operation is not possible.
If you are worried about your data getting into the wrong hands, it is safer to link the bank card to a top electronic payment system like PayPal. It gives extra security guarantees: payments are made through a secure connection, and the user doesn’t enter card details on third-party sites. When buying on eBay, the money is credited to the seller’s account only after confirmation of delivery or after the time for opening a dispute has expired. There are other ways to protect money on your card when paying online. For example, you can activate SMS-banking and quickly track the movement of funds.
What to do if the card has been charged with extra money? You may get your money back. Yes, perhaps not immediately, the security service may need time to sort everything out.
The main thing is not to panic, and as soon as possible contact the online store. Perhaps there was an error on the website, the wrong price for the goods due to exchange rate fluctuations, or there was a double charging. Such cases happen, but they are very rare. And all the top stores always go out of their way to refund customers.
Step 6: Choosing delivery and reseller
A typical fear of the online shopping pioneer: “If shipping here is free, where’s the guarantee that I’ll get my order safely?”.
Here’s what we advise you. When you get to the “shipping” section, make the following points:
- Does the seller send goods to your country/city?
- What shipping methods does the online store provide and what are their costs?
- Is it possible to indicate a third party as the recipient?
If the answer to the first question is no, contact a reseller. Online shopping resellers are companies that provide shipping addresses in the U.S. and Europe and forward purchases to their owners. They will charge you for their services, but you won’t have to worry about anything.
Resellers will not only forward your order, but may also help with the customs declaration. But attention: do not underestimate the value of the goods for the customs, because if something happens with them, it will be very difficult to get the money back.
Direct delivery can be made by mail, transportation companies, courier services or by pickup. The first and last method are usually the most budget-friendly. Thus, in most Asian online stores regular postal delivery is free, which can not be said about EMS, UPS, DHL, FedEx and other express services. Also, delivery usually does not cost anything if the store in your city has a collection point.
For some retailers it is essential that the data of the payer and the recipient coincide. Check this point in the FAQ before buying if you plan, for example, to make a gift and order something in someone else’s name and address.
Step 7: Tracking and receiving the parcel
A typical fear of an online shopping pioneer: “My package will be lost!”.
If the delivery is made by your country’s regular post office, you can monitor the movement of the cherished box on its official website. In other cases, it is convenient to use aggregators: sites or applications. They collect tracking information from various resources and notify about changes.
The tracking number is important not only to know when you receive your order. According to the rules of many countries, if a postal item has no tracking code, its weight does not exceed 2 kg (a so-called small package), and its dimensions allow you to drop it into the mailbox, a notice is not written out for it: the order will simply be placed in your box, as an ordinary letter or newspaper.
When you receive a notice, do not rush to happily grab the package at the post office and run home. Make sure that there is nothing wrong with it: no dents or signs of opening. If there are, the parcel should be opened on the spot.
It’s worse if your package hasn’t arrived at all. In this case, you must go to the post office and write an application for the search of the package. The written application must be accompanied by a receipt, which, in turn, must be requested from the seller, because he was the sender of the parcel.
In order not to be unsubstantiated when disputes arise (incomplete order, goods do not match the description, and so on), take a picture of the opening of the parcel on your cell phone.
In addition, remember the law on the protection of consumer rights:
- The consumer has the right to return the goods of improper quality, to demand a replacement or to receive monetary compensation;
- The consumer has the right to refuse goods of proper quality within seven days of receipt, and if written information about the procedure and terms of return was not provided upon delivery – within three months from the date of transfer of the goods. Provided that the product’s trade dress and consumer properties are preserved.