The trend of online shopping seems to be latest in thing right now. Various online stores offer amazing products and services at very competitive prices, and those who have a soft corner for shopping just cannot resist the temptation of buying the products with a click. The trend of online shopping is also favored by individuals, entrepreneurs and organizations, who do not have time to follow the traditional routes of buying and selling.
Well, as far as online shopping is concerned, safety comes first and as an online shopper you must ascertain various criteria before trusting the online store with the highly personalized details. Because little mistake has the potential of causing you harm, perhaps something like sharing your Credit Card Number and etc.
1. Make sure the online store is safe for shopping
Only share your secret information if you find oline store extremely safe. It is often exhibited in “https” of the website’s URL. An extra “s” means a safe route. Besides, the website may also display a closed padlock at the bottom of the page or an unbroken key to suggest the same.
2. Research about the company
Do not trade with the unfamiliar websites just because they are cheap. Look for their details, like a phone number or a local address and only trade with familiar websites.
3. Read the privacy policies
Every trustworthy website will inform you about the privacy policies, and how exactly the data, that you share with them, will be further utilized. Go through it before sharing the sensitive data.
4. Be guarded against behavioral marketing and cookies
It is a clever way of online merchants to track down your online shopping pattern and advertise the related services for you. While it may be beneficial in some cases. For instance, if you are a cricket enthusiast, watches cricket videos on YouTube, look for cricket clubs in your locality and have just ordered for a Cricket Kit online, the next time you surf the Internet for any purpose other than shopping, you may be greeted with advertisements related to cricket or when you go to Amazon, there could be a suggestion to Sachin Tendulkar’s biography or ball signed by Flintoff, etc.
The problem comes when this information is used against your advantage like your employer may getting know about the ailment you are suffering from, after your search for the disease, its cure and buying medicines online was made available to them by the cookies. To check the same, you can choose the option of “do not track” wherein your information will not be saved.
5. Be guarded against discrimination pricing
The problem of cookies doesn’t end just there, but many online merchants can track down how much you have previously paid for various products and display customized rates to you. So it may happen that you end up paying more for the same product for which your friend may have paid less. Sites like Amazon etc have been exposed to practice price discrimination. You can play a little smart in order to check this. Log in from different browsers like IE, Chrome, Mozilla etc and remove all the cookies before you do so and prefer those sites which compares the prices not only of different products but also the prices offered by different online vendors.
6. Credit cards are the safest bet, so shop with them
Amongst the various options of paying online with credit cards, debit cards and etc, Credit cards are the safest mode of payment, and if anything goes wrong, you will be protected under the Fair credit Billing Act.
7. Never reveal your social security number
Never reveal your social security number because as against the popular beliefs, it is not a prerequisite to place your order online.
8. Keep your password a secret
Many online stores require you to create a user name and password before placing the order. So, do not trust anybody with your password.
9. Understand the sales tax and other such issues
Though online shopping is often not charged under tax but you may have to pay the tax, if the online store from where you are buying, physically exists in the same state as yours, then you are required to pay the tax.
10. Provide only the specific information
While performing transactions with the online store, it is mandatory for you to provide some of the basic information like your name, address, telephone number and etc. However the clever online merchants may try to know your behavior pattern by asking questions about how you spend your free time, and other similar details. It is done to push other products towards you and you may receive spam mails, junk mails or even telephone calls. If a store is demanding certain information which you think is not necessary, leave it and shop somewhere else.
11. Check if you are accessing the legitimate website
Check if the name of the company appears in the URL or the Union Resource Locater of the website. Do not click on any suspicious links from the e-mail, instead type the URL in the browser window and start with a new session. In case you are being redirected to some other website, it sure is a warning bell.
12. Never entertain phony emails soliciting your personal information
You may receive emails claiming that the intimate information that you provided has been lost or compromised due to one reason or the other and that you are required to fill in the information again. Don’t be swayed by such emails and do not trust the people sending such emails, as it may be possible that they are just identity thieves who will exploit the information that you provide. Know it as a fact that any reputed firm will not ask such important information over the emails. You will receive a call from the concerned person. Anyhow even if you are too sure about the sender of the email, call the company before divulging any personal details.
13. Maintain a record of your orders
Once you place an order, you are directed to an order confirmation page. Save that page as a soft copy or the print out. The record must have the name, physical address and contact details of the website. You must keep it as a copy with you until the guarantee or warranty period is over. Mostly you will also receive a confirmation email from the online merchant, do not forgot to save a copy of that.
14. Be aware of the merchant’s Return Policies
No matter how much satisfied you are with online shopping, at times you may have to cancel the order to return the merchandise that you just bought. Thus read the return and cancellation policies of the online store. Also wisely check the following:
Who incurs the shipping cost?
- Is the order cancellation or return is subjected to some time period?
- Will you be charged any restocking charge in case you cancel or return?
- Will you be charged any store credits or will the entire amount be refunded to you in your credit card account.
- Will the merchant take the complaints through phone calls or e-mails?
- What is the total number of experience of the company?
- Do they offer any after sale communication or grievance handling?
- Can you get the repair or service work done through any of their local allies?
- What is the warranty or guarantee of the product?
Do not expect any less of customer service just because the company you are dealing with is placed on the Internet.
15. Believe your instincts
As a shopper we all have our instincts. If the store you are trading with appears too good to be true, then perhaps it is too good to be true. If you stumble upon any one of the following inhibitions, then perhaps the best idea will be abandon the current store, and look for something else. Check for the following clues:
Are there claims to glorious to be met?
- Are their prices ridiculously low?
- Does the merchant appears to be less of a professional and more of an amateur?
- Entire website gives an unprofessional with grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes?
- Does the phone of the company gets unanswered each time you call?
- If the online merchant has not disclosed the physical address and etc, stay off it.
Those were the inputs for the online shoppers to protect themselves against any sort of online exploitation or harassment. However if you are an online store owner, understand your additional responsibility to not only provide high quality products at nominal prices, but also work with up most integrity and honestly with your store. While unfair means may appear a lucrative option to become a millionaire in a short while, but one cannot win in life with cheating.
Respect your customers as individuals who have families to support and bills to pay and not as easy means of acquiring money. Make your online store safe and protected, and display that your store is safe on your website. Win the trust of your customers by providing full details about your physical location and provide them with contact details. Display any certificate of authentication which you may have acquired and provide the customers with good quality customer service.
For long term success, value your customers and provide them with superior quality products and services. Customer retention is perhaps the only to ascertain long term success in any business venture. Happy online shopping!