Christmas rush is coming, and countless online “discounts” are very tempting. Our brains have been trained to open our wallets and jump on every sale in an instant. However, everyone needs to know how to discern certain things when shopping online. Money doesn’t just fall off from trees, and we need to protect our finances, especially now that we’re at the onset of a pandemic, and economic downturns are inevitable.
Let me give you practical tips for a seamless and trustworthy shopping experience, not just for Christmas but for the rest of your life.
1. Check the Online Shop’s Authenticity and Legitimacy
Authenticity and Legitimacy is a critical issue, and it needs to be emphasized. Many people are still not very good at discerning, whether an online shop or a product is authentic or not. As for the products, make sure that you’re ordering from provides a warranty, online invoice, and an official receipt. The gadgets should be sealed too, of course. The best way to find out is to check the online shop’s and product’s reviews. If there are no reviews, then move on to the next.
2. Convenient Payment Options
Paying for your purchases when shopping online is an integral part of choosing whether you have to ditch the mall and have your items delivered directly to your house. If an online shop has a hassle payment system with additional fees, then you’re just wasting your time and better off just buying your gadget elsewhere.
3. Make Sure they have Return Policies and a Responsive (and Friendly) Customer Service
Having a return policy and responsive customer service is another vital part of online shopping! If you’re not satisfied with your purchase or want to return or exchange it, relying on legitimate online stores is vital. You get to test this by how responsive their customer service is. If they’re not that responsive or friendly, it means that there’s a 90% chance that you won’t be able to return or exchange your purchases from them.
4. Refrain from Buying Items in Bulk (more than one big box), especially if there’s little to no difference in the selling price.
This tip is important because something that I never expected happened, even from a top online retailer. Sometimes, even if we have bought many times from a “trusted” online shop, there’s still risk involved. And since we have trusted that shop for a long time, it would be almost impossible for it to betray us. But unfortunately, it happens.
As a seller of Vegan Kimchi, I have trusted one gochugaru (Korean red pepper) seller for months, especially since they are under Lazada, which is known to be a reputable online company. Because of that trust for both Lazada and JMarket, I bought 30kg of gochugaru worth 13,000PHP, only to have only received 1 out of 3 boxes of it.
I used up all my energy and not to mention, load credits in contacting both Lazada’s and JMarket’s customer service centers, but to no avail. The seller would always say that it’s not their fault and that they really sent all the boxes. I didn’t know who to believe.
Months after my constant badgering, Lazada emailed me discreetly that they have no accountability and that I have to resolve it with the seller myself. It took me four months of follow-up until receiving this message from Lazada, indirectly saying that they don’t care. I finally gave up after not hearing from both JMarket and Lazada anymore. Here’s proof of all my chats and their emails to me: LINK.
Lesson: Never order from Lazada and JMarket again. They do not care. We lost almost 8,000PHP because of the two boxes that we never received. Also, refrain from buying in bulk.
5. Say No to Fake Discounts
When it comes to discounts, many of us get excited, and the rational part of our brain just shrinks. I always love window shopping online, and this year, I noticed that many of the popular shopping marketplaces are offering fake discounts. They make us believe that a particular item is 50-90% off for a specific sale period, but the truth is, it’s just the original price.
An example was when I bought my Logitech mouse. I bought it from the mall because I was already there at that time. I almost regretted that I wasn’t able to make it to the big sale of a huge online marketplace, only to have been appeased after checking the price. The price of the same Logitech mouse was higher in the online marketplace than in the mall where I bought it from. I tell you, it said “50% off” in the online marketplace!
Related: Online Shopping 101: Issues and Perks
6. Fair Installment Plans
For a typical Filipino millennial, instead of paying for an expensive gadget by cash, going for installment is a lot easier, especially if there’s something else they are saving up on, like a holiday or another device. Make sure that the plans they offer are fair and without interest, or else, you’re better off paying in full.
7. On-time Delivery at your doorstep
This is one of the main reasons why we go online-shopping. For the guys out there, I notice that many of them rarely enjoy window shopping and would prefer just getting what they need, and off they go. A lot of introverts (and even some extroverts) would rather stay home than shop in crowded malls. For the busy-bees, having items delivered to them is also ideal. Make sure you double-check the estimated time of arrival of a particular product, so you’ll know what to expect.
8. Save time on Research
I’ve mentioned in my last post that I hate it when I get bombarded by salespeople in malls, so I’d rather search for my fave gadgets online. It helps when an online store already has all the info you need for all the devices you’re interested in. Not only can you save time on research, but that also shows that these online retailers know about the benefits of their products and that they chose the product correctly for their customers. It adds up to their trustworthiness. Hence, it’s always better to buy from online stores that have complete information regarding their products. If not, you may seek help from tech vlogs or blogs.
9. Check the Product Availability and Shipment Time
This is one of the important issues, especially in Christmas online shopping. Many online stores have products on a pre-order basis, which means that you have to wait for seven days or more before they would ship out their items to you, and the shipment time is not included. Pre-orders are acceptable, especially if the items still have to be shipped out from another country, but there are times, especially in Christmas online shopping, that we need the items asap.
If you’re in a hurry to get the item, make sure to research more, ‘coz it may be available on-hand in some shops. You may even get it at malls if you have time to go outside. But if there’s no rush, then you may pre-order the product.
Some online sellers also ship out a long time even if the products are already with them. Check out their customer reviews and feedback to see if they ship out the products on time or not.
Thank you for reading through these tips that I have mastered in the more than ten years that I’ve become involved in Online Shopping as both a seller and shopper. It’s still a continuous journey, but there are learnings every time. So please take these tips into heart, and share them with your friends. If you have more questions or if you wanna share your online shopping experiences, comment on them below.