The world is currently shifting to the so-called “new normal” due to the pandemic. Physical distancing is being normalized and people are obliged to stay at home most of the time.
Consequently, we should learn how to get and buy our necessities without leaving our houses. Hence, we must know a thing or two about practical and safe online shopping to safeguard ourselves and families.
Why should practical and safe online shopping be your concern?
We should accept the reality that while we still don’t have the vaccine for COVID-19, we have to stay home as much as possible. To get all your necessities without risking exposure to the Sars-CoV-2 virus, you have to familiarize yourself with online shopping. For sure, you’ll resort to this mode of purchase anytime soon.
7 Practical and Safe Online Shopping Tips
This article tackles general information and tips on practical and safe online shopping. It is not limited to a specific online shopping app or platform. More so, this will mention my overall online shopping experiences in various shopping websites I’ve tried in the past and I’m currently using.
So, without further ado, here they are:
Check online shop ratings
Post-transaction (after sale) feedback on online shops enable consumers to give their honest take on the products they bought. They come in graphic representations (e.g. star ratings or, sometimes, thumbs up ratings), showing their customers’ level of satisfaction.
Always find time to read these ratings. Most often than not, these customers leave feedback on their overall shopping experience with a particular online shop or seller.
Online shop ratings, may be considered either as a “badge” or “red flag” of an online shop. This is the section on their website or online platform where you can see their online reputation.
Personally, I don’t buy from online shops with below 4.7 stars/ratings. I know this standard could be quite high for your liking. However, I think, setting standards is the only way to safeguard your hard-earned money.
After all, we are all for safe online shopping, isn’t it?
Exhaust Your Shopping Options
Have you ever experienced a situation when you thought you got the best deal just to find out later that other stores or product lines offer better options than that you got?
Good news — it also happens when you shop online.
So what are you going to do?
Do as you would when shopping in physical stores — find more deals before selecting the best one.
The beauty about online shopping is that shops are just a swipe away! Find the best deals or products they want without getting tired from hopping from one physical shop to another. Make use of this time and convenience to look for the best thing that you could ever spent your money on.
Yes, we are after safe online shopping, but it won’t hurt to combine safety with practicality.
Like, stop, breathe, and don’t checkout just yet
Whenever I shop for something online, let’s say totes or pre-loved designer bags, I normally bookmark (or mark as “favorite”) the item I like or would most probably buy. Even though the item looks affordable, I won’t put it in my cart right away. Then, I’ll swipe for more products and repeat this process.
Later, when I already have a list of favorites or likes, I narrow down my choices to those to that which I think will work for me and my budget. This way, I get to scrutinize each deal prior to checking out. I also send the online seller a personal message if I have questions.
Meanwhile, I keep my other choices intact. I don’t de-list or erase them from my saved items. Who knows when are they going to come in handy?
Send inquiries; beware of scammers for a safe online shopping experience
When you already have a list of your first or best choices, do not hesitate to ask the seller should you have any question or concern. If the online shops you’re eyeing on post items without product descriptions, you have all the right to ask for more product or item details.
On the other hand, you may still want to ask the seller more details despite the fact that its posting already includes detailed product descriptions. There might be some product specifications that you might need more information on.
To illustrate, whenever I buy a pre-loved designer bag, I always ask about the bag’s specific dimensions even though the seller had already signified that the bag is “big enough to carry books and laptop”. Of course, I don’t know how long or how big the books and laptop she is talking about. Hence, I had to ask for the bag’s length, width, and height so I can somehow approximate the bag’s actual size.
By the way, don’t feel ashamed whenever you ask sellers for more product information. Since you don’t get to see the item in person, you, as consumer, have the inviolable right to ask additional details about your prospective purchase (Oops, pardon my legalese-speaking self. Lol.). Sellers should realize too that this is also another way of getting their customers’ trust and confidence, and fostering for them a safe online shopping experience.
Ask for more on-hand or in-stock product photos
Sadly, a handful of online sellers post unrealistic or, worse, snatched photos from the worldwide web. Sure, these photos look beautiful and enticing, but they don’t approximately describe the product’s facade or actual condition.
This is particularly important when you are buying pre-loved items because, chances are, you might get duped with regard to the product’s actual or real condition. In situations like this, however, I ensure to ask the seller politely for additional product photos.
In keeping with good business practice, sellers have the correlative obligation to educate you about his or her own goods in order to allow you or other customers to make informed choices. If they don’t give the product information or additional photos you need, delist them from your choices and move on to another seller or shop. It’s their loss, not yours, my friend.
Meanwhile, I applaud those sellers who really take the time to upload photos of the products they have on-hand, as well as those who are honest enough to share any flaw or issue their goods may have. I do believe this is the kind of online selling integrity that draws more customers to online shops, rather than having fancy or affordable products on hand.
Re-verify your choices before hitting the “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button
After getting all the product information that you need, you may now decide which of your choices suits your ultimate preferences and budget. You may want to factor in as well the costs of delivery or shipping of goods most especially if you are purchasing from overseas.
Don’t push through with the sale when your gut feel tells you otherwise
Practical and safe online shopping is somehow like writing and checking an essay — if it doesn’t look or sound right chances are there’s something wrong about it. You would know if there’s something eerie about the transaction if the seller seems to be either too hesitant to provide you with the simple information you need (something that is within their capacity as online sellers to know or that which they are ought to know) or too evasive when asked about certain details.
If that’s the case, always trust your intuition and do not push through with the sale. Make practical and safe online shopping always your priority!
Other reminders for a practical and safe online shopping experience
In communicating with online sellers, be courteous always. Thank them for whatever information you got from them. Do so even though you feel like the info is a bit lacking.
There’s no compelling reason behind this. This is just basic courtesy every human being is expected to exhibit.
Share this article to those who might need help on practical and safe online shopping
In writing this post, I had in mind my old self. Back then, I was clueless and hesitant to make online purchases. However, through research, I had overcome my apprehensions.
Now, I shop online for almost anything — from bags and cosmetic products to books and undergarments
May these tips help you have a good online shopping experience. If you find this article useful, feel free to share this via your social media platforms.
Stay home and stay safe, everyone!