Shopping is our birthright. We can never get enough of it. And the fact that now we can shop online for all the coveted brands/products has only fuelled our addiction. I was totally fine with shopping at the local malls and markets until I saw what the internet has to offer, although nothing and I mean nothing beats the joy of shopping with girlfriends, bargaining and bickering all the way. And even though I’m an active shopper online I had my share of worries and doubts(still do), so I thought I’ll put my experiences together to come up with a guide to shopping online. I’m not affiliated to any of these websites and the opinions shared here are solely my own.
What You Need for Online Shopping
A secure internet connection, which is a must for any e-commerce website and a credit/debit card. But I would strongly advice on using PayPal or Google Checkout. These are the two most popular payment gateways available.
“A payment gateway is an e-commerce application service provider service that authorizes payments for e-businesses, online retailers. It is the equivalent of a physical point of sale terminal located in most retail outlets. Payment gateways protect credit card details by encrypting sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, to ensure that information is passed securely between the customer and the merchant and also between merchant and the payment processor.” – From Wikipedia
A payment gateway acts as an intermediately between the buyer and the seller and thus safeguards your personal and financial identity. You can even directly connect your bank account with your PayPal account if you do not have a credit card. Although you can create an account at PayPal free of cost, they do have a few hidden charges in terms of bank commission and currency conversion which you must check.
Conduct an exhaustive research on the website. Might seem a tad tiresome but all you have to do is go to you tube and type the name of the website and ‘haul’. You will get to know everything about the website and the wares they sell, along with the shopper’s experience. You could alternatively do the same thing on Google as well.
Next check the Terms and Conditions and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages along with their Shipping and Return Policy on the website. These will cover everything else. Also ensure they have working telephone numbers and emails.
The most important concern while shopping online is fraud and misuse of your financial data. Check whether the website has authentication and digital security certificates. These certificates are issued by various certified authorities and the presence of one is always a good sign.
If you’re shopping for cosmetics, always search for swatches and reviews on Google and never rely on the swatches provided by the website. Most often these are misleading. Do a comparative analysis of prices, discounts and shipping rates before settling for a particular website.
Some Do’s and Don’ts for Online Shopping
• Only buy those brands and/or products which are not available except online.
• Keep a budget before filling up the shopping cart like a shopping crazed maniac. It also helps if you make a list of stuff you want before hand and sticking to the list.
• Contact customer care to get a feel of the customer service. Tell them you are interested in shopping at their website and were wondering how flexible their return policy was, or when will they restock products etc.
• Hunt for Promo Codes, Discount Coupon Codes and Ambassador Codes on Google to avail great discounts.
• Sign up for their newsletter to know about new launches, discounts and other news.
• Avoid ordering Shoes and Clothes online if you’re not sure about the international size units. Most websites have size charts but it can be a bit tricky figuring them out. If you do end up with a shoe too big then returning it becomes a big hassle not to mention expensive.
• Avoid using debit cards/bank transfers.
Pros of Shopping Online
• Variety of brands and products
• Colour Selection
• Frequent Discounts
Cons of Shopping Online
• Shipping rates
• Useless swatches
• Availability of sizes
• Fraud and Credit Card Theft
• Indian Postal Service(which every time bangs up my packages)
• Difficulty in returning goods
My Favourites Online Shopping Websites
They have the best customer service ever. My package was in a very bad shape when it arrived and even though it was mostly the fault of the Indian Post, they replaced everything and reimbursed the shipping and gave me a discount coupon. They have a huge selection of products and brands and a great clearance section. Plus they are having free world wide shipping these days without any minimum spend.
Best place to shop if you’re a makeup junkie. They have a decent variety of brands ranging from the drug store to the higher end ones. They have regular discounts and have a prompt customer service.
The it destination for jewellery shopping. You get everything from celebrity inspired to vintage jewellery and the prices are great. Shipping starts at $10 and they have a flexible return policy.
I recently discovered this amazing Indian website which brings a variety of brands at awesome discounts. They have daily deals on clothing, shoes, jewellery, accessories, home decor and more with a flat shipping rate of Rs100 within India. They also ship internationally. Right now they are offering great discounts on Lakme Fashion Week Designer Wear, all the more reason to head over.
A hotspot for everything under the sun. You can find everything old or new here. EBay is not a single entity but comprises of a number of sellers and retailers all over the world who come together under one roof, which means a gold mine for any shopper.
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