To some people like me, online shopping is the most wonderful thing that the internet has made possible. For those who are either extremely choosey or have no time or love to explore all options before buying, online shopping is a life-saver.
But of course, there are pros and cons to everything. There are many issues people face with regard to quality/size of products, fraudulent websites, bad customer service or simple distrust for the entire concept of buying off the internet.
So I have compiled a list of tips and tricks that will help you shop online more intelligently, gaining optimum benefit off the deal. Rest assured, I am a very experienced virtual customer – I have barely bought anything off the rack in past couple of years!
Here’s my list of do’s and don’ts
- Do not trust a website with a botched up user-interface. My general advice is that you buy stuff off of standard websites that have created a good reputation for themselves. But sometimes, it so happens that you find that rare brand of clothes/shoes/accessories/supplements, etc on an obscure website that you have never heard of. In such a case, judge using the user-interface. If it is sophisticated and well-designed, it is unlikely to be a fraud scheme (creating such sites requires much investment, hardly fitting the MO of cheats). To be on the safer side still, bill your order to Cash-on-Delivery.
- Always look for coupon codes before ordering. Most frequent users subscribe to newsletters with shopping portals, but sometimes, even despite that, you may miss out on some discount schemes. However, there are some websites which are exclusive directories recording all schemes/coupon codes that are presently active on a site. Just do a Google search before ordering typing “<website name> coupon code <month, year>” to get a list of active deals on different websites. A few pennies saved are a few purchases more!
- Order two sizes when in doubt. For those who are always paranoid about sizes and fitting, order two sizes of the same product, be it shoes, clothes, lingerie or something else. When delivered, try on both sizes and keep whatever fits better. You will have to go through the process of returning the product which is slightly tedious, but next is tip will make that easier too.
- Take precautions for returning purposes. Most people find the process of returning bought items extremely putting off. It requires too much effort and time. Well, here are some things you can do. When opening your package, cut at the original seams so even the outermost packaging isn’t destroyed. You will then no need to repack the product, just re-seal it instead for postage. Also, keep a template mail in your drafts to use for all returns so you don’t have to write a new one each time. Just add in Order numbers and some specific details for every return.
- Make online payments whenever possible. This is because you will avoid many hassles. One, you’ll not have to respond to any confirmation call (pre-orders are instantly confirmed). Also, when the package arrives, you can get someone else to receive it (such as a neighbour, house-help, etc) if you are not around, since no cash needs be exchanged. You will also forgo the invariable scrounge for exact change which ensues when the delivery boy arrives. And most importantly, in case of a return request, your money will be credited into your bank account. With Cash-on-Delivery orders, the money gets converted into store credit, which necessitates another purchase for the site.
- Always refer to specific size charts. Every site and seller provides sizing information. Most people simply assume that the size they usually wear for standard brands will work. However, when shopping online, be doubly careful by re-checking the size chart provided with each specific item. Also, follow the chart always; if you usually wear a Small, but this chart measurement suggests Medium, go for the latter.
- Do not hesitate to return. As mentioned before, many people find the return procedure bothersome. Often that results in them keeping ill-fitting or dissatisfactory products and later holding the websites/virtual shopping responsible for their bad experience. Do not do this; make the extra effort to return within the prescribed time, and you will realize how convenient the service is.
If you keep these things in mind, you will eventually be able to shop online like a pro. And keep at it, after all, practice makes perfect. Best part is, shopping is something you won’t mind practising at all!