Today I’m going to show you 14 very effective steps for safe online shopping.
In fact, I personally follow these online shopping safety tips. You too can follow these simple but worth considering measures to ensure your online safety.
Online shopping evolution is a boon for shopaholics. Nowadays, majority of us prefer online shopping than in-store shopping due to lack of time and freedom to choose from millions of products. Online shopping stores let you browse their sites or apps as long as you want and if you don’t find a product of your choice then simply exit, no need to feel embarrass.
Embarrass? Many a times, it happens to me when I visit a physical store and I don’t find anything good then I feel embarrass to leave the store and sometimes reluctantly I buy something (not all the time just when I spend more time at a store).
Therefore, I always prefer online shopping. Though, online shopping is convenient but everything pertaining to it is not good. For instance everything you buy online is not authentic, some cunning sellers (you might already know eCommerce stores don’t sell products themselves, these just sell products through local and international sellers) deliver you fake or first copy products in the name of prominent brands.
Also, it’s not safe to share personal and financial information on some online stores.
While shopping online, there are some certain steps you’re supposed to take to have a safe and secure online shopping experience.
Here I’m illustrating them with the help of an image. Though, these are not rules that you must follow, however, you should follow them.
But if you’re well aware and know how to stay safe when shopping online then there’s no need to worry.
Next, I’ll take you through some common online shopping mistakes people make and you should avoid them for a safe online shopping experience.
Read: Top 10 Online Shopping Sites in India for Clothes
Common mistakes you must avoid for safe online shopping
New, refurbished, or first copy
As of now, there are numerous online shopping stores exist and many of them fraud their customers by sending them refurbished (these are not bad but seller should mention it) or first copy products. These stores besmirch the name of online shopping.
Therefore, always buy your product from a renowned store and always read product description section. Find whether the product is brand new, refurbished, or first copy.
If the product you’re buying is a first copy product then don’t buy it whether you’re getting it for free (Okay, if it’s free then get it). There is no thing like first copy, it is just a new name for fake products.
If your product is refurbished and you’re getting it on significant discount along with manufacturer warranty then you can think of it. But only buy with manufacturer warranty not seller warranty.
For you knowledge, refurbished products are the products (usually electronics) that have been returned to the manufacturer for various reasons for example got damaged while in transit, and manufacturer repairs them, test them and send them back for resale with refurbished tag.
Usually, you get huge discount but limited warranty on such products.
For more information, read, “What refurbished products are and benefits of buying such products?”
Brand new products are always good to buy. Therefore, always prefer to buy a brand new product.
Tip: All sellers mention these things so you cannot blame them. When a product, especially electronic, is on sale then make sure to check whether it’s new, refurbished, or first copy. No seller mentions product is fake, follow concerned brand’s guidelines to check authenticity.
Purchase your product from reputed seller
Popular international online shopping stores like Amazon, Ebay and the like, have a large network of sellers and almost all are not good. But few of them sell fake, faulty, or not as described products and in return they get negative reviews from their buyers.
Many buyers don’t see seller’s rating which is a good way to determine whether seller is reliable or not. This is a very common online shopping mistake that people make and then they suffer.
So here one simple rule of thumb for you for safe online shopping, always see seller rating and feedback. If these are not good then buy your product from another seller.
Product ratings and reviews
Another good way to find whether the product is worth buying or not. All online shopping websites have product rating section where customers share their shopping experience and product related information.
If the product you’re buying has good ratings and feedback then this is a positive signal that you’ll get an authentic product.
Here I would like to mention that some sellers deliberately create positive reviews to make their rating good therefore to ensure read more and more reviews.
Give more importance to verified buyers who actually have purchased the product. You can read ‘verified buyer’ next to the name the reviewer.
Warranty type and time
Usually, online products come with manufacturer warranty or seller warranty. Manufacturer warranty means original manufacturer will repair the product if it gets damaged and that damage is covered by the warranty.
On the other hand, in seller warranty, it’s seller’s responsibility to repair the product which means if your product gets damaged then you will have to approach the seller for repair; you cannot visit brand’s service center.
Online shopping sites give huge discount on products to beat their competitors and sometimes at the purchase price; just to advertise. Some sellers on these stores change warranty type from manufacturer to seller to make some profit.
So, for safe online shopping experience, you should see warranty type.
If warranty type is ‘Manufacturer Warranty’ then close your eyes and buy the product. In other scenario, if warranty type is ‘Seller Warranty’ then I don’t recommend you to buy the product. However, choice is yours.
Some people see only warranty type but they ignore warranty time; they just assume it would be minimum for one year. For your information, some sellers offer less warranty than others therefore check warranty period.
Note: Some products do not come with warranty like microphones.
Return and cancellation policy
Another common online shopping mistake that most of us make. While buying online, some of us ignore to read refund policy and some of us just assume that it would be returnable.
For your information, each product you find on an online store may have different refund policy. Therefore, before buying a product online read its refund policy.
Usually, online products have three types of refund policies: exchange only, refund only, both exchange and refund. If the product has exchange only policy then you can only exchange your product if it’s faulty, damaged, or not as described.
You cannot get refund if product has exchange only policy.
On the other hand, some sellers have only refund policy which means if you want to exchange the product due to size or color related issues then seller is not going help you get the desired size.
In that scenario, you’ll have to request for refund and then you can order again to get desired size or color.
If the product has both exchange and return policy then you can choose exchange or refund within the specified period say 10 days, 30 days, or more.
As of now, no seller has return policy for online electronics products; even you don’t have this option if you buy the same from a physical store. But if you receive a damaged or faulty product then you’re entitled to get refund or replacement.
For safe online shopping, always see refund policy of the product.
Note: Some products like personal care, consumable products, footwear accessories, innerware, microphones, some auto accessories, baby care, cleaning products, bath and spa etc products are not eligible for returns.
However, they can be exchanged under some conditions.
Read: List of top online electronics shopping sites in India
Don’t just see the price
Yes, we’ve the right to save some money and discount is our birthright (just kidding!) but don’t just see the price, pay attention to all the points those I’m mentioning here.
If discount on a product is unreasonable then this is a warning sign of fake product. But if a reputed seller is selling the product then he might be doing this for just promotion.
In that case, become an early bird and steal the deal!
Beware of suspicious sites
There’re some spammers out there who just show you products on unbelievable charm prices say $0.5, or $1 to collect your financial information or cheat you. They are not going to send you the product.
Therefore, for safe online shopping, always see URL of the website.
It’d always be start with ‘https’ (not http).
It shows that your connection is encrypted and whatever personal or financial information you share on the website cannot be accessed by third party or spammers.
Also, avoid buying from unknown websites. To know more about a website, simply Google the name of the website preceded by review for example Amazon review. This way you’d find customers’, who have used your searched website in the past, reviews and you can read their experiences.
Read reviews from reliable websites. If you pay for online shopping using internet banking service then you should follow certain steps for safe online banking.
For safe online shopping, we cannot afford to ignore this online shopping safety tip. In fact, it should be your first step when you land on a website. If website URL does not start with ‘https’ then refrain from it.
Your personal and financial information are not safe when you visit such websites.
Always compare price of the product you’re buying. As mentioned above, there’re numerous online shopping stores which is a good thing for buyers but bad for online stores; because their competition has been increased.
There are a lot of probabilities that if you’re getting 40 percent discount on a store then you would get 50 percent from another. So take advantage of it.
Check price of the product on 3-4 online stores and then order it from a store that is offering at lowest price (don’t forget new, refurbished, or first copy concept).
This would be worst online shopping mistake one could make because he/she is simply ignoring an opportunity to safe money. Remember, money saved is money earned.
Before ordering online, visit a physical store and try your product. This way you can see which size would fit on you. Also, check your product’s offline price. Offline sellers also trying hard to beat online stores by giving huge discount.
If a physical store is offering you a product cheaper or equal to online price then there’s no sense in buying online.
This online shopping mistake is not punishable but very effective to save your precious time; which you would be wasting in exchanging or returning products.
Don’t get lured by spam emails
Getting trapped in phishing emails is a very common online shopping security mistake that most of newbie make. After receiving a promotional email offering unbelievable discount, most people click to steal the deal. But they don’t release it’s not they who are stealing the deal, it’s the phisher.
Often, spammers send lucrative discount offer emails in the name some renowned brands. Don’t get lured! Always check email addresses. If they are not from real brands or stores (for example if you have subscribed Amazon newsletter then their email’s last characters should be @amazon.com or country specific like Amazon.in) then don’t click on any link or don’t download any file, if attached.
No matter how compelling offer is if it’s not from the genuine sender then simply trash it.
For the sake of safe online shopping and your financial information, trash such emails without reading them. In our recent post, “Gmail tips and tricks to handle emails like a pro” we have discussed how you can trash these emails automatically
Don’t invite thefts by using public WiFi connections
Never enter your personal or financial details when you’re on a public WiFi connection. These type of connections are vulnerable to hacks and your personal data can be compromised. This is also a very common online shopping mistake that people make and then they suffer.
They don’t hesitate to enter their confidential information while using public WiFi which is only suitable for normal web-browsing (some experts also suggest not to use such connections for any purpose).
So, a simple thumb of rule for safe online shopping, never use public WiFi or internet connection to enter confidential information.
Don’t save financial information
All online shopping sites save your personal information such as your physical address, email, phone number etc on your consent. This information is vulnerable to theft. If Facebook’s data can be stolen then others’ can also be.
Similarly, at the time of payment, these sites gives you the option to save cards or bank details for quick payments in the future and our laziness encourages us to do so. But, for your information, it’s too risky.
Again, these sites do their best to save your data but as always these are not responsible just in case.
So here simple rule of thumb for safe online shopping experience, delete your addresses (if possible) and don’t save your cards or financial for future orders.
Don’t unbox (only for electronics those require installation)
It’s a very common online shopping mistake. Here most people become impatient. They just open the box as soon as they receive it. But for your information, warranty will be applicable if only an authorized service/delivery person opens the packaging.
Site or brand will contact you and facilitate installation and demo at time of your convenience. So, don’t open the packaging. Note: This is applicable on only products that require installation.
Do you know if you don’t make unboxing video of your purchased product then seller can simply reject your claim? Yes, many a time, buyers get empty boxes, different items, damaged items, or not as mentioned but sellers reject to honor their refund or exchange request.
Do you know why? Because buyers fail to prove that they’ve actually received empty boxes, different items, damaged items, or not as mentioned product. Some good companies also mention on the box that ‘No claim will be honored without unboxing video’.
Recently, I ordered whey protein for myself and got such an instruction, sharing photo with you.
Therefore, whatever you buy make a habit of making unboxing video. Who knows it will help you someday?
Monitor you bank account regularly
If you own a credit card or debit card then you would definitely make online purchases with it.
Your bank always sends you SMS notifications whenever a transaction happens. This way you can keep track of your bank account and safeguard your money. If you’ve not subscribed for SMS alerts then I suggest you avail this facility ASAP.
If you inform your bank withing specified time limit say 3 days about an unauthorized transaction then, as per banking guidelines, it’s your bank’s duty to reimburse the loss. If you fails to do so then your bank is not responsible.
Above online shopping safety tips would certainly help you stay safe when buying online.
Was this post, “Steps for safe online shopping’ helpful? I’m curious to know your feedback and must share if you’ve some more tips for our readers.