Are you a little concerned about your holiday spending habits? Do you dread trekking your way through the crowded stores and queuing up at the register? Well, there is a solution for that. I would love to show you why, where and what you can shop for online and how to avoid common pitfalls.
Why would you want to shop online when there are so many stores to visit?
For starters, online shopping means that all that extra money you’d be putting towards gas is now in your pocket.
But let’s say that there are plenty of stores on your way back from work or on any another route that you regularly take. You don’t need to detour and you are not going to spend any more on gas than you usually do. First of all - lucky you! But are you certain you are getting the best price in the stores on your way home? Or perhaps they are just conveniently located and possibly overpriced establishments? Shopping online removes that doubt. With only a few clicks you can find out which retailers has the exact item you want and how much they are charging for it.
The fact is, there are nearly an unlimited amount of choices of products and opportunities to learn about other customers’ experiences with the vast majority of them. Simply put, if you are looking to buy a crockpot, going to a store means you can only access the specific items this store sells. Shopping online means you can find a selection of crockpots meeting your various criteria and budget too.
Where to start?
If you are not very familiar with online shopping, it might seem overwhelming. There are so many places to shop and so many things to watch out for. Yes, I admit, it’s a little scary. But let’s bring it down to the basics. If you are not sure where to start, just type in your search engine what you would like to buy. It could be as vague or as specific as you want. Once you type what you are looking for (you can follow it up with the word “online”) you will see a list of retailers selling the specific product you are looking for. Now it’s time to dive in and compare the products, prices, availability and decide whether you want to make a purchase.
Remember that online shopping doesn’t have to mean online buying. After doing your research on the web, you can still decide to buy in person in a store near you if that’s the best deal you have found.
What to buy?
Well, what would you like to buy? In the midst of the internet you can find the newest technology products, vintage items, collectibles, accessories, food, plants, pets… you name it.
Although retailers seem to sell pretty much anything online these days, I do believe that online shopping has its limitations for everyone. For me personally, perishables, clothes and shoes are off limits. They either spoil way too fast, look way too tight or hurt my feet, all in this order. Everything else goes in that virtual cart of mine. Meaning most of my electronics, furniture, linens, books, board games, kitchenware, even cosmetics or chewing gums are bought (or at least researched) online. This saves me a lot of money and disappointment. For once I only look at the items I know I can afford and I only look at the ones previously reviewed so I know exactly what to expect of them, and that’s what I recommend to you.
Having said all the above, your list of items you would NOT buy online can be completely different than mine. You might include shoes but exclude art. You might shop online solely for electronics. It’s all about your preferences and willingness to search the web.
How to avoid common pitfalls?
With online shopping you can make as many mistakes as with your regular shopping. Try to adhere to the following practices and you should have a very pleasant experience.
1. Don’t take a chance on unknown retailers
Try to use well-known and established companies and if you are not familiar with a retailer, take some precautions. Check that the site lists its full address and phone numbers, whether it has a satisfying returns and refunds policy, and that the payments are protected by a secure connection (such as HTTPS etc.) Better yet, you can look for reviews of each of the retailers by typing their names and the words such as “reviews”, “scam” etc. Check for ratings on sites likewww.trustpilot.com.
For more information about how to spot fake websites readthis.
2. Check the shipping costs and taxes
Can’t stress that enough. The unbeatable price might double when you add shipping costs and taxes.
3. Don’t save your payment information
This one is so tempting because it means you only input your information on the site once instead of every single time when you want to purchase something. But beware that data breaches, although far less likely, can affect even reputable, established retailers. Should this happen, your financial information might become available to fraudsters.
4. Use your credit, not debit card
Although you can shop online using your debit card too, it’s always safer to use a credit card for online purchases because it doesn’t take the money directly from your account. Should anything happens (see 3) with a credit card, the money in your account is not affected.
What are your experiences with online shopping? What are your recommendations and tips? Let us know!Anita Tomczak works in the HTFFFCU marketing department and she is responsible for social media, market research and a lot of promotional blitz. She loves reading, eating and cycling (in this order) and constantly tries to broaden her horizons, both at work and in her personal life.