Everyone loves the convenience, and in a fast-paced world, Online shopping is a much-needed privilege. Buying things online has now become easier, cheaper and quicker than the thought of before, yet it has its own pitfalls that buyers should be aware of.

‘Caveat emptor’

‘Caveat emptor’ is a Latin phrase that simply means ‘buyers beware.’ It becomes your responsibility to check the credentials of a company that sells products online. Protecting your personal and financial data is necessary to prevent fraudulent sites from making a quick buck at your expense. From fashion apparel, smartphones, appliances to furniture, everything is now available at the click of your mouse.

A number of popular e-commerce companies have captured retail sales at an unbelievable speed. Buyers should take a certain number of precautions to ensure that they get genuine products at the best prices. This also implies that e-commerce companies should take strict measures to ensure they do not sell fake products to unsuspecting people. The reputation of a company is completely dependent on how it conducts its online business with ethics and values.

Precautions to be taken for online buying

  • Reputation of the seller: Online shopping is hassle-free, but so is setting up an online shop. Anyone with the right amount of know-how can now set up an online shop to sell goods. Know your seller before you order anything! Check the reputation of the seller, and if they actually have any physical address to return the goods to, in case, there is a problem.
  • Shipping charges: Do check the shipping charges before you order a product. It may just turn out that the shipping charges are costlier than the product itself! Some e-commerce companies like Amazon, do offer free shipping for a certain shopping amount. This helps you to club certain products that allow you the benefit of getting free delivery on all of them!
  • Delivery dates: Before you order, check the delivery dates. Shipping charges may be different for quick deliveries. So if you are buying a birthday gift for someone, it obviously has to reach in time, or it is likely to become a belated birthday gift!
  • Returns policy: This brings us to another issue of returns. It is the obligation of the seller to provide information about the returns procedure. However, buyers also need to check if the seller has any specific requirements for returns. If you are not satisfied with the product, then check who bears the return charges for shipping and any other fees involved. In short, read the fine print!
  • Don’t click on sudden popups: On some websites, you will find sudden colorful popups promising you cheaper products. These are likely to be fraudulent websites. It is best not to order from a random seller. Do not give any financial or personal information through emails, calls or chats. Do not divulge information like card details or bank details.
  • Product condition: Not all products that are sold online are brand new. They could come under a category called ‘new,’ ‘refurbished,’ ‘used,’ ‘vintage,’ ‘replica,’ or even a ‘scale model.’ It is necessary that you understand what you are paying for or what you are buying.
  • Total cost, cancellations, and refund: The total cost is what you pay for including shipping and other charges if any. This is the final amount that you will be paying. Make sure you have checked all the details before you buy. If you do need to cancel an order, find out how you can do so, before you quickly place the order and pay for it. If you have canceled an order, you must get a refund for the same. Check the refund policy of the seller!
  • Compare: A buyer always has the option of comparing products available on another website. Before you place an order, check with other reputed websites that sell the product or similar products because you may get them at reasonable prices. There is nothing wrong in doing some homework before you immediately purchase something, only to discover later that it was much cheaper elsewhere. So don’t be shy about giving some proper time to research, however, cheap does not mean fake products. So don’t be gullible and buy a product just because it is cheaper elsewhere. Even e-commerce websites have different sellers who may not offer the same quality. Check the reputation or feedback of this seller too and also their returns policy.
  • Sales, discounts, offers, and festivals: There are always sales for festivals and other special offers for product launches. If you are interested to buy something that is expensive, look for great offers from reputed sellers. There are many discounts, lightning deals and festival offers for products. Watch out for these, if you are really not in a hurry to buy something. You can always get good offers and save a lot of money in the process. For example, the Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale last year in September 2017, the Snapdeal Republic Day Sale this year in 2018, etc., were a huge hit with Online buyers.
  • Paying by card or cash: If you are paying online by card, it is safer to make use of the OTP (One Time Password) option instead of typing out your payment password. If you are paying by card at home, please do not ask the courier person to enter your ATM, Debit or Credit card pin number. Never disclose your card's PIN number to anyone. It shouldn’t be difficult to memorize it since it’s just a four digit number! If you can remember your phone number, you can remember your PIN number too!

Online shopping is super easy, just don’t make it super easy for someone to cheat you out of your hard-earned money!