Understanding the Ins and Outs of Online Shopping

While online shopping offers many advantages to consumers, those same people should keep in mind some precautions to make sure their shopping experience and the products purchased meet their expectations.  Generally, online shopping is not risky but there are some things to be aware of.  I will discuss here some specific areas for consumers to be aware of, ensuring that you are not making a mistake while shopping online.  These areas include product descriptions, payment options and return policies.

Shopping Online(82493)Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=721

Check Product Descriptions Carefully

One of the most important parts of a site to the online shopping is the product description.  This is because an online shopper cannot physically examine a product as she can at a traditional brick and mortar store.  So the available product description helps the shopper to make the all-important decision regarding a purchase of the item.  Often times similar products are available and can be mistaken for the intended item for purchase since subtle differences can be overlooked.  This is where paying attention to the product description is important to avoid buying the wrong thing.  If the product descriptions do not answer all of the shopper’s questions, then it would be worth it to call the online retailer’s customer service line for clarification about the item.

Understand Payment Options

Consumers should also check out the payment options available on a site before purchasing an item from it.  This includes not only the forms of payment accepted but also the total purchase price including taxes and shipping.  The worst surprise about online shopping is finding out that the price you planned on for a product is higher than what you anticipated.  First, the shopper should check the forms of payment accepted by the online retailer.  Most websites will take credit cards and debit cards although sometimes the credit cards accepted may be limited.

When it comes to gift cards, shoppers should also check on the policies regarding the use of them at the intended site.  Some online retailers will limit the number of cards that can be used on single purchase or the value of the cards to be applied to an online purchase.  This more often applies to the use of coupons and promotional codes.  Restrictions on discounts often revolve around the times in which they can be used or whether the discount codes or gift cards can be used on sale items or in combination with other promotional codes.

Understand Return Policies

Making a return can be stressful at traditional stores and sometimes even more so for websites.  Although sometimes the return situation can be simple, sometimes there are complications.  To avoid complications altogether, shoppers are wise to read an online retailer’s return policies carefully before making a purchase.  This does not eliminate a complicated return procedure but it does eliminate potential surprises connected with trying to return an item.

The hardest situation connected to returning a product purchased online is when the consumer has to bear the full cost of returning the item to online retailer.  Small and relatively inexpensive items may be easy and cheap to send back but oversized or heavy items can get pricey in terms of shipping costs.  Also keep in mind that expensive items can require the purchase of mailing insurance.

Method of Payment for Online Shopping(82495)Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2680

Making sure that you know a product well before ordering, being aware of a website's payment options and return policies--these are all important steps in making an online purchase responsibly.  Educating yourself this way before ordering online will help you to make sure that you have no problems with the transaction or the actual product.