2017 Nov 10
Online shopping can seem like ultimate instant gratification. While the ability to buy pretty much anything you want from the comfort of your own home presents incredible benefits, it can also get out of hand pretty quickly. Overspending and draining your bank account is one of the more common pitfalls – but it might not even be the worst, particularly when you consider how shopping online can jeopardize your identity.
Generally, you should feel comfortable purchasing items online. However, that doesn’t mean you should click “buy” before adequately educating yourself. As long as you’re aware of the most prevalent mistakes made by online shoppers and how to best avoid them, there shouldn’t be any problem hunting down that perfect item and scoring the best price. After all, Sri Lankans can never , resist a good bargain or sale.
So here is a list of pointers for you to keep in mind the next time you shop online, armed with your credit card and lack of a strong will.
1. Getting sucked in by a sale
”Buy One Dress, Get One Half Off!” It’s easy to browse mindlessly for things you hadn’t planned on buying. Sure, that pair of shoes might be half off, but do you really need them? Buying something just because it’s on sale is a pitfall that many consumers fall into. “Spaving” is a term that has been used to describe these types of irrational purchases where you spend money unnecessarily in order to save money. A good way to avoid this type of pitfall is to clearly define your needs versus your wants. You might want the shoes that are on sale, but do you need them? If you buy them, are you likely to use them? If you were in the mall specifically looking for shoes, then this might be a wise shopping decision. However, if you just found them while casually perusing the stores, then there’s a chance that buying this sale item might simply be emotional, or impulse spending, which can ultimately lead to debt.
2. It’s all about free shipping
Always take advantage of free Shipping! Many online merchants offer free shipping on orders that have reached a certain dollar value. Merchants like Amazon.com offer this incentive, and because the required value of your order isn’t generally that high, you really only have to purchase a couple of items in order to qualify. Though you definitely shouldn’t purchase items you don’t need, simply to meet the quota, there could be occasions where opting to pay the shipping charge might actually push the total price of your order above the minimum amount you’d have to spend on merchandise in order to qualify for free shipping. Furthermore, when you buy online, you’re saving money on gas since you don’t have to drive around from store to store, further adding to your savings. In these circumstances, it might be best to order your mum’s birthday present at the same time so that you’re eligible for the discount. Just be careful to read the fine print so you know the terms and conditions of the offer, especially for international orders.
3. Failing to search for promo codes and discounts
Why pay full price when you could get free shipping or a certain percent off your order? Before you check out, do a quick search for discount codes. Many online stores have discount codes which you may not be aware of. After all, you aren’t truly Sri Lankan if you say no to free or discounted items!
4. Not checking return policies
Shopping online is convenient, but not if you need to return an item. This can create a scenario where you keep something you don’t want simply to avoid the hassle and expense of returning it. Read the return policy before you buy online. This is especially important if you’re buying clothing, because sizes can vary and it’s sometimes challenging to find the right fit without trying something on first.
5. Taking a Chance on Unknown Retailers or sites that are not secure
If you don’t buy from a well-known company, or one with which you’ve already done business, take some precautions to ensure you can be confident of a reliable transaction. Be sure the company lists an address and phone number, and try calling the customer service number to get answers to any questions that may concern you, such as how the company handles returns, refunds and consumer complaints. Don’t get scammed!
6. Skipping Reviews
Hell hath no fury like a consumer scorned, so when one has a bad experience, the Internet can be a very useful sounding board. By the same token, it’s also the ultimate forum for people to gush with praise over their favourite products and stores, giving you the best of both worlds. Always read reviews on the item you’re purchasing, as well as the store you’re purchasing it from. This can give you a better sense of product quality, user experience, and overall security.
There are a lot of opinions out there, and wading through them all can be overwhelming. My trick is to read the three-star reviews. Since they’re middle-of-the-road, they tend to offer more pros and cons. Five-star reviews can be inflated, while one-star reviews may be coming from consumers who are never happy.
7. Buying Counterfeit Items
From fake Rolex watches, to designer handbags, medications, artwork, shoes and athletic gear, there’s tons of fake stuff online. Given the exorbitant costs associated with some luxury brands, it’s not surprising that some people have chosen to purchase counterfeit items to keep up with the trends. However, saving some cash on these goods might come with unwanted consequences. First off, counterfeit items are usually of inferior quality. Additionally, there is no way of knowing that these items are actually safe. Counterfeit medications or cosmetic products might contain harmful chemicals, or counterfeit purses, shoes and clothing may have been coloured with harmful or toxic dyes. So if you want to avoid a busted lip from a bad reaction to the chemicals in a counterfeit Kylie lip kit, be careful
The Bottom Line
Almost everyone makes poor purchasing decisions from time to time. However, the magnitude of these poor decisions can have a direct impact on your financial situation. Purchasing sale items that you’re not likely to use is silly, but on the other hand, it’s also silly not to take advantage of good bargains like coupons or free shipping when these perks are available. Ask yourself if you really need the item you’re buying. If you’re unsure that you really need the item you’re considering, try sleeping on it. If you still want that great pair of shoes the next day, there’s a good chance you’ll end up making good use of them. If you’ve forgotten about them, then you did the right thing by walking away. Online shopping can mean a world of discounts, infinite selection, and an easy purchasing experience, but it can also be dangerous. By all means, find deals and use discounts to get the best item for the best price, but make sure you’re doing so safely. Happy Shopping!