Shopping for goods and services online allows consumers to compare prices, quality and availability quickly and easily. Other advantages of online shopping include:
Access To In-depth Product And Service Information
When shopping online, consumers can take their time to learn all about the goods and services they want to purchase. From reading product descriptions to marketing and journalist-written reviews, consumer reviews and testimonials, consumers can learn a lot before making their final decisions.
Access to product and service information also allows consumers to shop with confidence, knowing they will find the best price and quality. Online discounts and other promotions provide something extra to entice consumers to shop online instead of visiting retail locations.
Retailers and business owners can easily update their websites to showcase the latest goods and services. This means that consumers won’t have to wait for retail locations to stock or re-stock items.
Large Selection To Choose From
Because retailers have much more space to display their goods online than in brick and mortar locations, retailers can offer more merchandise and promote services any time they want. Consumers have many more choices to suit their wants and needs.
This is another reason why consumers should take their time to comparison shop when searching for goods and services online. A competitive online marketplace can provide lots of savings for consumers throughout the year.
The Downside of Online Shopping – And Ways to Shop with Confidence
But even though online shopping provides a convenient way to purchase goods, schedule appointments and obtain online price quotes, consumers should remain cautious when surfing the web.
Unfortunately, fraud, price gauging, hidden fees and unsavory return and exchange policies can sometimes turn a seemingly good purchase into a major hassle.
Here are three ways consumers can protect themselves when purchasing goods and services online:
Verify Websites Before Buying
Many search engines, web browsers and virus protection services attach trust seals to websites to reassure consumers of website legitimacy.
Some web browsers and virus protection services also alert consumers when they visit websites that seem suspicious.
Before purchasing items from a website, scroll down to the bottom of the page to learn more about the company or business that operates the site. Most businesses provide contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers and street or P.O. Box addresses.
Review websites carefully. If product descriptions, web headlines and other content contain a lot of misspellings and incorrect information or if the product images don’t match the product descriptions, consumers should shop elsewhere because even though these websites may be legitimate, poorly managed sites usually indicate poorly run businesses.
Make Online Purchases Using Credit Cards instead Of Debit Cards
These days, most credit card companies provide fraud protection for online purchases. And while some banks offer fraud protection for debit cards, filing a claim and getting the money returned can take much longer than filing a claim with a credit card company.
If identity theft occurs, credit card companies can pause accounts and issue new cards quickly to minimize the damage. Banks typically freeze checking and savings accounts while they sort out the issue.
In the meantime, frozen bank accounts can make bill paying difficult, often resulting in missed or late payments, fees and other issues.
Read The Fine Print
Before clicking ‘Place My Order,’ consumers should review return/exchange and service cancellation policies to ensure they can return items or cancel services they no longer want.
Legitimate businesses provide this information on product and order pages. Return/exchange/cancellation policies should clearly explain how long customers have to return/exchange items, whether businesses charge return/exchange fees, how to cancel services and how long it will take to reimburse customers.
If return/exchange or service cancellation policies seem unclear, consumers should contact customer service before completing their order or consider finding another retailer.