By Amanda Owusu
Posted on June 21, 20201
Online shopping has become something normal for all of us throughout the years, especially during the pandemic, when many stores were closed. It’s reported that over 28.1 million Canadians (66 per cent of the population) made online purchases in 2019. Although shopping online seems simple enough, there are still some basic things that a buyer should know when making online purchases. This article will provide you with some tips and tricks that will help your online shopping experience run smoother.
Online shopping is when you buy goods and services from merchants through the internet. Instead of going into the store, shoppers can go online from the comfort of their homes and look for the items they hope to purchase. A major advantage of online shopping is convenience. You no longer have to wait in lines, search all over the store for your item, or shop in crowded malls. Online shopping removes all of those things from the process and allows you to shop easier. However, it still comes with some risks. For instance, you don’t get to see and hold the item before purchasing it. Sometimes people find that the item they receive is not what they thought they were buying. Fortunately, there are ways to get your money back in these instances. Also, some buyers sometimes have their payment information stolen and misused after purchasing something online. This does not happen to everyone, and if it does, banks can usually help you resolve these issues.
Online shopping is quickly taking over the commerce industry. As a result, you can get almost anything online, such as clothes, groceries, alcohol, furniture, electronics, books, financial products, and many other products. If you can think of it, it is likely you’ll find it online for sale. You can get new and used items online and even vintage items. If you’re buying used products, do your best to get real and recent pictures and information about the item you plan to purchase.
Here are our top 10 tips to help your online shopping experience run smoother.
1. Make sure your information is secured
When online shopping, it’s important to make sure that the connection, browser, and website you are using are secured. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your information stolen and misused. Make sure that your connection is secure by checking to see if there is a lock sign beside your wifi sign. You can also do this by ensuring that the website begins with https:// and not just http://. The difference between the two is the “s” at the end of “http,” and this confirms that the website is secured. Lastly, if you are about to pay and have reached the payment page, make sure that there is a lock sign beside the website address. This shows that the payment page of the website is secured, and your information is safe. If the retailer’s website does not have these things, find another website to purchase from, so you don’t risk having your information stolen.
2. Look for discounts
One of the best parts about buying online is that there is nearly always a way you can get your item at a discounted price. You can search for discount codes for a variety of sellers through sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCanada and apps like Honey. If you’re grocery shopping, you can use apps like Flipp to find deals. It’s worth doing some research before completing your purchase because you can save money. A lot of online stores also offer you a discount code when you sign up for the email list. By doing this, you can save 10-20 per cent off your purchase.
3. Shop around
There are so many sites that you can choose from when shopping. For this reason, it’s smart to take a look at the different prices and deals that different online retailers are offering. For example, you may often find that one company might be having an online sale while their competitor might not. Don’t miss out on savings because you didn’t shop around before purchasing!
4. Make sure the site is reputable
Shopping with reputable sites when making an online purchase is your best option. Avoid sites that don’t seem reputable. You can determine this by seeing if the site has customer service information and information about returns. You can also take a look at how retailer websites are designed. Don’t make any purchases on websites that are poorly designed and/or riddled with pop-up ads. Do a quick Google search of the company name to see customer reviews and read up on other people’s experiences. Also, make sure that the website is encrypted and using a https:// domain. All of these things can help you figure out whether or not a website is reputable and help you determine if it can be trusted with your money and information.
5. Pay with PayPal or with a credit card
When buying online, you usually have the option to pay with a credit card or Visa debit card. It’s best to use your credit card or PayPal when online shopping. You can register your debit card and credit card with PayPal and make online payments that way. Alternatively, you can use your Visa debit card or credit card directly. It’s best to use these payment methods because PayPal and credit card companies have simple procedures in place to help you get your money back if the item you receive is not what you expected.
6. Look for customer service information, return policy, and shipping information
Before you even think about purchasing from a website, make sure you find and read the company’s return policy, customer service contact information, and shipping policy. If a website does not have this information, you do not want to be shopping there. If they do have it, make sure that you are OK with their terms and agreements. Some companies have items available for preorder; some companies have a restocking fee, and some companies charge you custom and duty fees. Try to figure out exactly what you’re paying for before making a purchase by reading up on their store policies, terms, and agreements. For more on returns and refunds, see this article.
7. Don’t click on untrusted pop-up ads
When you’re shopping on a website, try not to click on any of their pop-up ads. These ads can have viruses, spyware, and other harmful things that could damage your computer. By clicking these ads, you expose yourself to potential risks. Ignore them and close them when you see them. Sometimes, these ads may use fake alerts, mimicking notifications from your computer. Be aware of this, and don’t fall for those schemes.
8. Double-check your banking statements
If you’ve ever made online purchases, you should frequently check your bank statements. Regardless of the payment method you use, Visa debit or credit, take a careful look at your statements. You want to make sure that you are not being double charged for anything and that you don’t have any suspicious and unauthorized charges. Sometimes, websites can be breached, and their information stolen. As a result, some customers may have their banking information stolen and used for fraudulent transactions. By being up to date with your banking information, you can spot anything amiss quickly before the issue gets worse.
9. Don’t overshare information
When online shopping, don’t share more information than is necessary. Typically, retailers only need your payment method information, your name, and a shipping and billing address. Sellers do not need to know your bank account details, social insurance number, or other personal information.
10. Beware of deals that seem too good to be true
If you’re browsing for items online and see something offered at a suspiciously low price, it’s likely a scam trying to lure unsuspecting customers. Low prices are used to draw people in, but usually, these prices are very low for a reason. Don’t be the one to find out why the price is so low, and instead, avoid deals like these altogether.
Now that you know what online shopping is and have reviewed some important tips, you are ready to shop safely online. Keep these tips in mind and protect yourself and your information at all times, so you don’t run into issues when buying online. Happy shopping! You can check out a list of great online retailers below. The Newcomer provides tips here for how to save money when shopping as well as a basic guide to grocery shopping.
Good websites for online shopping:
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca
- Walmart: https://www.walmart.ca/en
- Bestbuy: https://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca
- Etsy: https://www.etsy.com
- Google: https://shopping.google.com/
- Wayfair: http://wayfair.ca
- FashionNova: https://www.fashionnova.com
- InstaCart: https://www.instacart.ca
- Poshmark: https://poshmark.ca
- Ebay: https://www.ebay.ca
- GroupOn: https://www.groupon.com