Online Shopping: Questions To Ask Before You Buy



Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can now buy almost anything online: televisions, holidays, clothes…even food! The ability to do this from your own home and skip those pesky waiting lines is one of the main reasons that so many of us are choosing to do all of our shopping on the web!

But, while online shopping is incredibly convenient, it is also not without its downfalls. Most of us have probably had at least one online shopping disaster. Maybe the product that arrived wasn’t what you ordered? Maybe it was the wrong size, or maybe it didn’t arrive at all? When you’re not familiar with the website you’re buying from, the thought of parting with your money can leave you feeling uneasy. We want your online shopping experience to be a seamless one which is why we’ve put together a list of questions that we think you should ask yourself before you buy!

Is the website secure?

First and foremost, it is very important to check that the website that you want to buy from is a secure site. This will greatly reduce the risk of fraud and help to put your mind at ease if you haven’t purchased anything from that particular site before.To check if a site is secure, look for a tiny padlock icon located on the top left of the browser’s URL bar. Another thing to be aware of is the site URL itself. Secure sites begin with https:// while non secure websites begin with http://.

Is it the right product for your needs?

Consider what you need the product for. Are you planning on using the product for work reasons or personal use? Perhaps you travel a lot and need the product to be compact? All of these factors can have an influence on the type of product that is right for you.

Is the product compatible with what you want to use it with?

Make sure that the item that you are buying is the one that you need. For example, the Kenu Stance is a portable tripod for your phone that is sold in both Android and iPhone versions.

Do you know what you’re buying?

Be clear about what you are getting for your money. For example, you may be wondering if a specific cable or accessory is included in the purchase price. If it is not clearly stated in the product’s description, contact the retailer! Most online retailers have contact details listed on the website specifically for dealing with customer-related queries. Unlike regular shopping, online shopping doesn’t give you the opportunity to view the product before buying. Check to see if the seller has included any images alongside the product’s listing. This will help to ensure that there are no unwanted surprises once the product arrives.

Is the brand reliable?

Research the brand and the product. See what other customers are saying about the quality and durability of the item. Many online retailers now include customer reviews alongside each product. Real-life experiences from people who have already purchased the product can help you to decide whether or not you really want to buy the product.

Does the product seem “too good to be true”?

A rule of thumb for online shopping is that if the price of an item seems too good to be true, the chances are it probably is. Trust your extincts. If a website is advertising Apple watches for €100 when they normally retail for €500 then you know it’s most likely not a legitimate offer. Again, check customer reviews to see what others are saying about the website!

Does your order need to be signed for?

Perhaps one of the most inconvenient aspects of online shopping is waiting for your product to be delivered. If your product needs to be signed for, you may want to check if tracking is available on your order so you have a rough idea of when your item will be delivered. This helps to ensure that someone is available to sign for your order when the courier comes knocking.  If there is rarely someone at home, it might be worth considering an alternative delivery address for your order, such as your work address or a family member’s address.

Does the product include a warranty?

It’s good practice to check a product’s warranty information before choosing to buy. It might also be worthwhile contacting the seller before you make your purchase to clarify warranty cover and also to confirm the seller’s returns policy should any issues arise with the product after purchase.

What payment options are available?

Deciding on what payment option to use can be a daunting aspect of online shopping. Most websites offer various options including credit card, debit card,  Paypal and more. Where possible, try to use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have spending limits whereas debit cards do not. It is also easier to dispute fraudulent charges on a credit card then on a debit card. With credit cards you can also dispute a fraudulent charge without being out-of-pocket for the amount disputed. Third party payment processors like Paypal and Stripe are also a safer option. Paypal and Stripe handle the payment for you, helping to minimise the risk of fraud.

The next time you want to buy something online, ask yourself, ‘can I answer these questions?’, if the answer’s ‘yes’, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!

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