It can be a little daunting purchasing online for the first time, given that you need to provide some sort of payment details, have the uncertainty of knowing whether or not they are reputable or what postage costs are applicable.
Here's my Top 11 Tips to give you confidence when purchasing online.
- Make sure you check the online stores Terms & Conditions page. This may also come under the headings of Purchasing, Frequently Asked Questions or Ordering, Postage & Payment details. Here you should find all the information in relation to refunds & exchanges and their payment details.
- Are they easy to contact? Do they have a phone number you can call them on or an email which includes the companies domain ie firstname.lastname@example.org. Where are they located?
- Do they have an 'about' or 'profile' page? This is usually a brief outline about the business owner and when the business started operation.
- Postage costs. Sometimes when purchasing online, especially from overseas, you need to weigh up if the cost of the postage makes the goods too expensive. Is the item registered or insured or do you need to select these as additional options and cost.
- How long is delivery expected to take? Do you need it for a special occasion, will you receive it on time. What is the expected turnaround time of orders being dispatched? Does it need to be custom made.
- Privacy - make sure your details will not be forwarded onto any 3rd parties.
- While online shopping can be fabulously convenient, you can't physically touch the products. Monitors are all different so you may end up with a product which is not what you quite hoped for. I believe matching co-ordinating fabrics is one of the hardest things to do online. Product photo's and descriptions are crucial. Are the photo's clear in natural light? Do they show the product at different angles, back & front? Does it tell you the size & weight?
- Testimonials & Feedback - OK, this one is a little bit more tricky. I personally don't have a review or testimonial page even though all business coaches say you must have one - I'm still swaying back and forth on this one. You are only going to publish the good right? The testimonials are usually edited and really they can be written by anyone. I'm not saying you should dismiss them, sometimes they are the only thing you have to go off. On sites like Etsy & Madeit, feedback comments are a great way to tell the integrity of a seller.
- Are they social? By that I mean are they on Facebook and Twitter. Now just because someone isn't on these sites, does not in any way mean they are a shady character and not to be trusted! It can be a great indication of whether that site has a following and often followers of this page will leave comments regarding service they have received without it being cut & edited by the store owner.
- Word of Mouth is an online stores best friend. Who are your friends buying from? What was the service like?
- Payment options. Paypal is a safe and easy way to do online purchasing. They have safe guards for the buyer and they act as a third person to intervene if there is a dispute. I've been is this position and in both cases the matter was resolved in my favour. If I trust the site, I will use my credit card. Direct deposit is a safe way to purchase however you have no third party to dispute matters. I am a little weary of sites that only offer direct deposit - again it comes down to trusting the site.
Often your gut feeling is the right one. When you click onto a store and it appears current, updated & profesional with many of the above boxes ticked you can feel secure in spending your money there.
What things give you the confidence when purchasing from an online store?