As an avid online shopper, I have learnt a few lessons here and there, (I have learned the hard way, mind you) and have garnered a few tips and tricks to shopping online. Now, for the purpose of this article I'd like to divide the process of shopping online into 3 stages :
- STAGE 1 - Choosing the right seller or online shop to buy from
- STAGE 2 - The buying stage ( the most interesting and my personal favorite stage)
- STAGE 3 - payment and delivery stage
Choosing the right seller either on E-bay, Instagram or those random online shopping websites is a very important step because you don't want to end up wasting your money on sellers that are not going to deliver you the goods that you have paid.
TIP #1 // If it sounds too good to be true, it's maybe because it is not true. Yes this includes that Naked palette that's selling off for RM50 that you've been eyeing on but deep down inside you know that something is not right. Often when you're shopping online it's really hard to fight the urge to buy things without thinking it through but you want to make sure all the products you buy online are genuine. So trust your instincts!
TIP #2 // Do a quick background check on those websites or sellers you wish to buy from. This includes checking reviews, ratings and feed backs from past customers. For online sellers on Facebook, you can check out the number of likes and also customers' feed backs will usually be on the left side bar underneath the "Notes" section. For website based sellers, do not be a lazy bum and assume the sellers are going to be fine, do a quick google search on them and look for reviews from bloggers, vloggers and past customers. Similarly, if E-bay is more your thing, then check the ratings and reviews and Instagram sellers always re-post customers' feed backs, plus you can always check the comments on their pictures. Be very careful when it comes to choosing which seller you want to buy from, trust me you won't be sorry. With social media it's very easy nowadays to find out dirt about all these online sellers and thus this help consumers to make an informed decision.
TIP #3 // Observe. Notice how the seller or the employees of the company that owns the website treat and interact with consumers online. For example, I found an online shop about a few months back which was selling awesome clothes but for some reason they didn't seem to have a lot of followers, no comments, ratings, nothing. So I decided to ask the seller a question, I even tried placing an order before a thorough checkup because I was so into the clothes that were being sold, it's a shame to say that the seller never replied me until today. Suffice to say that customer service was not only beyond crappy, it was non-existent! So it's no wonder why the company never gained any traction.
Now that you've chosen which seller to buy from it's time to start shopping!
TIP #4 // Product knowledge. Because there's no way you can actually examine the product physically, so the best thing you can do after you've picked out the item you want is to make sure that the sizes and measurements would fit you. The last thing you'd want is get the products after the agonizing wait and not have it fit you.
TIP #5 // Shop smart! If this is your first time buying from that online business, try not to buy products in bulk and try not to buy expensive products from them just yet! Because you have no idea how it's going to turn out to be! Just like when you're investing, when you're not sure of the outcome, you won't invest too much money into it. Likewise, if this is your first time dealing with a particular online business, try to buy really small things first, think of your first purchase as a beta phase or a trial run!
TIP #6 // Payment. Make sure your personal details such as your credit card number or your address are filled in correctly. Be wary of the currencies involved if you're buying from international websites. Furthermore, read up on the shipping policies and special charges before paying. More often than not, it is cheaper to buy things online however, shipping cost might offset that advantage. Therefore, always check on the shipping costs before agreeing to pay for the goods. Some international websites like ASOS and some buyers on E-bay provide free shipping worldwide, so that's awesome!
The last stage comprises of long agonizing days waiting, thinking and fretting about your package! But fret not because once the package is in your hands, it will all be worth it! Plus, there are steps that you could take before and after the package has arrived that can help you become a better and smarter shopper!
TIP #7 // Be proactive . Keep in touch with the seller if you haven't heard from them in a while after payment. Also, ask the status of your goods and for a tracking number for the goods once it has been shipped, if the seller did not provide it in the first place. Do not hesitate to contact the seller if the package did not arrive on the expected date, sometimes there might have been some mishaps at the shipping stage, so keep contacting your seller if you haven't received the goods, it prevents the seller from assuming that everything is fine.
TIP #8 // Buyer's obligations . If you have agreed to buy the goods COD (cash on delivery) or in cases where you have to pick up the delivery, it is best that you do it yourself and not ask someone else to pick up the goods. Once the goods have been received, inspect the packaging as soon as possible and notify the seller the condition of the packaging and the goods within a reasonable period! (2-3 days is still fine, per say)
TIP #9 // Try to provide feed backs and reviews. This step is optional of course but try to put yourself in the shoes of a seller that's trying to grow their name brand, every little feed back counts whether be it positive or negative. Of course if you have something negative to say, provide constructive criticism rather than blatantly screaming at the seller. Some people prefer to communicate their thoughts on the products and service personally, others prefer to write comments/ reviews on the seller's website. Also you can just post a picture on your SNSs of the delivered product and tag the seller that should also be useful. I personally like giving feed backs and reviews publicly because it will help others in making their decisions to choose the right and best seller and make an informed decision. (a vital step in stage 1 tip #2, remember?)
Alright, that's all for this week, folks! I hope that was helpful and don't forget to sign up for my blog or share it if you want to spread the info!!