Buying online is both an extreme convenience, and a rather large risk. For one, you cut out all the trouble, time and expense of going off to shop at a physical location – and most of the time, you get to get access to items you would never find within your city, town, or even country. Online shopping can also help you get access to digital content and save on the storage and inconvenience of physical packaging, especially in movies, video games, and other forms of entertainment.
Online is convenient. It’s simple. It’s also becoming the preferred way to shop, with an expected $1.92 trillion market size by the end of the year according to Statista. Already, over 200 million American shoppers are getting their goods online. And the numbers are rising.
But with that comes some risk. Shopping online isn’t the safest method of commerce, but with a few tips, it can be. The other double-edged element of shopping online is the fact that, as a product’s popularity soars, finding the best deal of it can be very, very tough. But it isn’t impossible. With just seven simple tips, you’ll be finding the best bang for your buck without putting on an overcoat or starting the car.
- Safety First
Safe browsing is important when you’re buying things. For one, online stores are chockfull with ads, and ads can often carry malware. Carefully scan a website and determine what an advertisement is, and what actual content is. Then tread on cautiously.
- Use More than Just Google
Google may be the world’s eminent search engine – by as much as 80 percent, according to Search Engine Land – but when you’re looking for deals, you may want to use other search engines and websites. Although Google’s shopping tab gives you a decent indication of the general price of an object, you’re better off scanning international websites and shopping portals for better deals, or looking for websites with one sale a day like Daily Sale.
- Look for Product Reviews
When you’re trying to find out what phone is best for you, what headphones to go for, what mattress to purchase, then snooping around for a great deal is a good way to find out what your best options would be, price-wise.
But once you know what the market looks like, getting more in-depth information on the quality and history of a product through a shopping portal can be extremely difficult. As such, look for reviews online to find out whether or not the given product is for you.
News websites often write reviews, as well, and they can be quite accurate. Take your pick of a number of different reviews and build your own opinion on the basis of what some common praises or complaints were.
- Snoop Around Social Media
Social media is also a powerful tool for determining whether or not you should get an item. Contact your friends, ask them for advice, query them on what their favorite alternative would be, and look up others online who have something to say about their choice in product.
On a basis of trust, social media reviews would most likely rank the highest, as users would have no financial incentive to give a favorable review.
- Look for the Best Discounts
Cost-comparison websites are an absolute must when you’re shopping, because they’ll give you a better overview of what kind of prices you’ll be looking at when buying a certain item. Some websites and shopping portals may feature a lower price or seasonal discount, which could help you save money on your purchase. Be smart – don’t jump on the first offer you see, unless you’re buying a product in extremely high demand.
- Never Give out Your Credit Card Information Without Proper Security
Another security issue is the questionable legitimacy of some shopping portals. Never give out any personal information – to a shopping website or any other website – without first ensuring that the site you’re on is using SSL certification. You can check whether or not your connection to the website is secure by looking for the padlock item on your address bar, followed by the “https://” in the address bar, as opposed to the regular HTTP.
- Always Check the Shipping Terms
Express, or regular, international or local, free or not – different websites have different shipping terms for items, so perform some rudimentary due diligence before deciding on where to buy your item from. It’s a better idea logistically to buy jewelry locally rather than internationally, for example, due to the extreme costs of luxury taxes in some countries.
Alternatively, electronics may be cheaper abroad than where you are, so buying internationally rather than locally may net you a lower price overall. In the end, it’s the simple little variables that can drastically change an item’s total price, so be careful what you’re clicking.