I have a confession to make: I don’t remember the last time I actually shopped inside a mall.
I’ve gone to the mall to meet up with friends for lunch/dinner or to hit the grocery for essentials, sure, but I haven’t really browsed the shops for quite some time now. Why? It’s all thanks to something called online shopping.
It’s a godsend for introverts like me. Online shopping means I don’t have to get up and get dressed, find a parking space in the mall, and spend hours and hours browsing clothing racks or shoe racks while evading an overzealous salesperson. I especially love how I don’t need to look around much to find whatever it is I need or want. I simply type in a set of specific keywords into a search engine or e-commerce website, and voila! A few more keystrokes, and the item is on its way to my front door.
So, why haven’t more Filipinos been partaking of this kind of retail therapy? Well, for starters, we tend to be wary of getting scammed online and many of us aren’t too keen on purchasing something we haven’t actually tried on for size.
Now, online shopping isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s still a great alternative to traditional shopping and there are tips and tricks you can abide by to avoid its pitfalls and make the most out of it, such as:
1. Choose only accredited retail sites and/or legitimate online sellers.
How can you tell if it’s safe to shop on a website? Try looking for the following signs:
A physical address and a contact number.
Means for accepting credit card payments.
A privacy statement.
Actual reviews/photos of actual orders and shipping waybills.
Reputable businesses running a legitimate operation have no trouble posting an office address and/or contact number. You can also try calling the contact number for good measure.
Take note, reasonable means you can understand why a certain item is selling for a certain amount (e.g., a silk blazer would cost more than a cotton one, etc.). If the prices on a website are too good to be true (e.g., expensive-looking dresses listed as costing less than AU$10 or Php500 apiece), that probably means you’ll receive something that looks very different from the photo on the website, if you receive anything at all.
To be able to accept credit card payments, companies need to apply to leading card-issuing companies for approval, so having a PayPal terminal or something similar is a good sign. Do check that the site is encrypted for online safety (look for a padlock or unbroken key icon on the website) before you give out your credit card numbers, however.
Honest-to-goodness e-commerce sites feature privacy statements about protecting your credit card data and your private information, so be sure to look for this one.
If you opt to buy from online sellers on Facebook or Instagram, check if they have photos of orders they’ve actually shipped as well as feedback from previous customers. Trustworthy online sellers often post these as proof of ongoing business negotiations, thus boosting their credibility.
2. Know your measurements.
Most websites have size charts to guide customers in picking out the right size for their clothes.
Even if you know for sure that you’re a size S or M, it helps to know your key measurements, such as your bust/chest, waist line, and the length from your shoulder to your hip/knee/ankle. Sometimes, a certain brand might have different measurements for their sizes, so knowing what numbers to look for can save you from a lot of heartache.
The same goes for shoes. Take note of the length and width of your feet and the EU and US equivalents of your shoe size in local stores.
3. Browse the photos.
Certain details, such as buttons and stitches, can only be seen when you zoom in. Fortunately, many e-commerce websites have zoom-in functions and product photos taken from multiple angles. These allow you to scrutinize every inch of the garment or item you’ve been eyeing so that you have a very good idea of what it would look like in reality.
4. Sign up for deal alerts and time your shopping sprees.
Seeing all those incessant promo notifications in your inbox can be annoying, but they can help save you a wad of cash, especially if you frequent a particular website or two.
Certain holidays, such as Christmas or Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving), for example, are typically the season for promos, so you may want to hold off on any big-ticket purchases until then.
5. If undecided, keep items in your cart rather than checking out right away.
There are some companies that send you discount codes to get you to go ahead with buying all the stuff you’ve placed in your cart.
6. Pick your payment methods wisely.
Some local websites offer COD (cash on delivery) as a payment option, and that’s great if you want to cut down on your credit card bill or if it’s your first time to buy something online.
However, it can sometimes be more convenient to swipe your credit card, such as when the item you’re buying is rather expensive and your issuing bank currently has promos that allow you to pay off the item in 0% intrest installments over a period of several months.
So, you see, there aren’t really a lot of reasons for anyone to miss out on the benefits of online shopping. Take it from me; once you’ve done it successfully, the only real risk is in getting addicted to it.