mentioned the concept of supermarkets, many people threw up their arms in
disgust and swore they’d never take over from the general store.
More people threw
up their arms when petrol station first introduced self service, too.
Then scanning bar
codes instead of manually entering prices into a cash register stirred up some
The largest change
to shopping in recent times has been the introduction of online shopping
options. This is a big step for many people to take, for a number of reasons.
A certain amount of
familiarity with computers and the Internet is required to be able to shop
online. However, it is not a large amount of technical knowledge that is
necessary and much of it can be learned quickly with a bit of trial and error.
Knowing how to enter an internet browser and then key in a url is really the
basis of all online activity.
The following list
of points can be used to assess any given online retailer before choosing to
order goods or give over any information.
unknown site has to be judged on its apparent merits. However, if you can go to
a retailer with a recommendation from a friend or other trusted source, you can
already have some confidence in the site’s credibility.
Links from a
trusted site can also be counted as a recommendation – reputable sites do not
want to be associated with disreputable business practices.
If you use a site
from a recommendation and receive any problems, make sure you pass this back to
whoever recommended to you so they can change their approach in future.
A site that has
nothing to hide will always include the means by which you can directly contact
them. Each site should, as a minimum, provide you with an email address and
phone number; many sites also provide a postal address and fax number as
alternative means of contact.
There are different
types of security processes available to internet sites.
information to a site, be it a retailer or otherwise, it is wise to check their
information; the main clause in web policies is the confidentiality of your
email address and other details. Unless you like to receive many unsolicited
emails, don’t give your email address unless their policy protects it from
online, there are methods of protecting your financial details as well.
Never send credit card details
via email as this is not secure.
Don’t send card details if the
site is not clearly secure
Request postal or fax contact
details for forwarding card details
Use outside parties such as
paymate or clickbank
Request their account details and
do a direct deposit via net banking
guarantees and provisions
guarantees and refund policies the retailer offers.
Due to the nature
of buying without seeing, many online retailers have full refund policies within
certain time frames. Of course, normal standards apply – the product must be as
it was and certain products can’t be returned for health and hygiene reasons.
Check also on back
order and ‘lost in the mail’ policies. Particularly for more expensive items or
orders, it may be worth enquiring about insurance for the order as well – some
sites include or offer this with every order.
Clarity of costs
It is to be
expected that ordering of products online will incur a delivery charge.
Some points on
* Do they use regular mail or a
* Does the package need to be
* Are packaging costs based on a
sliding scale, weight or a set cost per order?
* Are such costs clearly listed and
* Be aware of extra costs – special
delivery costs may only apply in certain circumstances
a site that is easy to navigate and find information from is interested in
providing customer service. They present their stock and their policies openly
to give the purchaser a fair representation of the business.
difference between a clean, well-set out friendly shop and a dingy, crowded
shop. Which would you prefer to buy from? The same principles and reactions
apply to online retailers.
Although it is not
a guarantee by itself, the fact that you easily recognise the site or product
name increases the credibility of the site you are considering. For instance, in
judging between site X and Coles Online purely by name, you would assume that
Coles Online is a reputable site to use whereas site X is unknown and other
factors would be considered.
When you look for a
retailer on a search engine such as Google or yahoo, the top ranked sites will
be listed first.
A high ranking site
is likely to have been around a bit longer than other sites and has a certain
amount of credibility.
Low ranking sites,
however, are not necessarily bad sites in any way.
Tash Hughes is a Mum of two in Melbourne. She is also a writer and owner
of Word Constructions. Tash is available to write articles and profiles for any
business, as well as doing other business documentation projects. You can see
her site and services at www.wordconstructions.com