Online shopping is a big part of our lives.
In fact, even if you haven’t gone all digital, you’re likely making purchases online more often than you’d like. And you’re surrounded by people doing the same.
According to researches, more than 50% of Americans prefer to shop online, while 80% have bought something on the Web in the last month.
Now almost every item or service you can imagine is a click away. With such ease of access it’s normal that the competition is tough too. Ecommerce giants are fighting for your attention with every marketing channel known to man, and they don’t give up until they give you the best user experience and make you want to come back to their platform again.
They’ve come to your favorite social media channels to make it even easier for you, and more tempting, to buy stuff that you seem interested in based on your activity in the same network.
That makes it harder for us to do online shopping the smart way.
In order not to make irrational buying decisions and end up in a bad financial situation in the future, we should take control of this aspect of our lifestyle and become a better online shopper.
Here are some resources that can help you out when trying to choose the best product, find a legitimate seller (almost always that would be one of the Ecommerce giants out there), or compare prices and features:
1. Use a product review site.
Product review sites are quite helpful. They are created to give you in-depth information about different types of products, that you can go through before making the decision to buy.
One such site is Brand Ballot, where you can browse different categories and brands and see for yourself which ones seem best for your needs.
With product review sites you can save a ton of time by seeing all the features of a product laid out in front of you, together with some possible issues you might not have considered.
2. Do it safely.
With so much money being spent online, there comes the problem with security.
Many scam sites show up when a new hot market has evolved. Then, there are the fake reviews, the lack of a secure payment system, the data credentials you share that can be used for other purposes, and more.
Even if your device is secure and you’re being careful with your credit card details, there are still some new online shopping habits and practices you can develop to make sure nothing goes wrong.
For a start, use sites you know. Your own research should always come first.
Luckily, more than 72% of millennials check what else is there online before making a purchase, even if it’s in a real store. That’s a positive factor as it means we’re slowly becoming more conscious of what we give money for.
If you’re going to buy from someone on the Internet, though, check if they’re using an SSL certificate on their site first. That simply means having https in the url, instead of just http. It’s a step the owner has taken to ensure that all the data you share during your transaction remains private.
Don’t give excess information when it’s optional. It’s also better if you don’t save passwords and have made them strong enough.
To make it even easier, you can use a password manager tool.
3. Compare prices.
Another thing you can use to become a better online shopper is a tool that compares prices.
For a start, InvisibleHand is one such software that notifies you of a cheaper version of whatever it is you’re viewing online, even if it’s on another platform.
PriceBlink does a similar job.
A browser extension you might like is Honey, which works with coupon codes and saves you the hassle of looking for one by simply putting it in the right field for you.
4. Stand up for your consumer rights
Yes, we live in an age of entitlement, and it’s not always pretty or justified. But in many cases, it’s tied to a sense of fairness and of lost humanity.
Our corporate landscape is run on such cold and ultra-rational terms that it can be easy to feel that you don’t have a voice when you’ve been wronged on the high street or online. Andnd it’s not surprising, when many of those who do stand up for themselves do so to no avail: 89% of us have moved on to a different company after a customer service nightmare, while 289 million social media complaints go unanswered every year.
But the problem isn’t the complaint: it’s how people are complaining.
And the first thing to do is to shed that vague feeling of entitlement, and get down to the brass tacks of your rights – and how they’ve been wronged.
So begin by making sure you do in fact have a case, and that you’re not just feeling red-faced because you’ve made a mistake.
Take a breath, and think about how the case looks from the company’s perspective. Then start compiling evidence and putting together your argument. The important thing is to know the ideal outcome you want, and the level of compromise you’re prepared to accept – otherwise, you’re just letting off hot air.
Next, target your complaint. Find the right person, in the right department, and the preferred mode of contact.
You’ll be talking to various other people along the way. So make sure to take their names and keep a record of the calls you’ve made, the time you made them, and how long you were kept waiting. If the first person you talk to can’t or won’t help you, ask to speak to a supervisor. If necessary, this pattern can continue to the top.
But that’s not to say you should go in all guns blazing. You are likely to a get a more favorable outcome if you are friendly and reasonable.
Most of the people you speak to will be getting paid by the hour. They just want to process things as smoothly as possible and get on with their lives. They’re probably not to blame for whatever you’re complaining about. But they can make things more difficult for you if you don’t treat them with respect.
Making a rational yet human approach like this should help you get results. But if you find you’re banging your head against a wall, you might want to try some of the next-level ideas in this new visual guide to complaining, from NetCredit.
Online shopping can make your life much more comfortable and easier. But you need to do it the smart way.
Make sure you think every purchase through, form good buying habits, and make use of helpful resources to see who and what is the best on the market right now.