People are turning to malls rather than going to shops. The reason is obvious – convenience. Another step towards convenience is online shopping. I trust most of us have experienced this. It is really wonderful to visit shopping portals. These portals are like virtual malls. We can say that shopping convenience is at our finger tips and that too in our living room. How wonderful this internet is!
Online shopping has its own merits and threats; I will not use the word demerits, as these are preventable. It is like two sides of a coin. If proper care is exercised, these threats can be kept away.
Know the seller
First and the most important matter is, check the seller. If you are buying from a shopping portal, please check since how long that portal has been running business and what is the general perspective about the portal. Before placing an order, check the feedback about the seller on the portal. There is no better friend than a past customer. At the time of buying from a portal of a company, check the history of the company and not design of the portal.
Ensure secure internet connection and server
The first check is a secure server. It is very simple for a user to check that. A website name that starts with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’ is secure. Https is secure because it is an encrypted form of Http while transmitting sensitive data like bank account details, credit card number etc. Websites may not have a secure server ‘https’ for product selection pages but it should have it while making payment. It is advisable to check popular encryptions for authentication such as VeriSign, Entrust, RSA Security etc.
Password management is an art. Family member’s name or birth date must never get reflected in the password. Passwords for shopping portals, mails and banks must be totally different. There are some good websites for password management, which teach some tricks for making effective passwords.
Get details on product and price
It is better to check the product thoroughly and read all the details given on the product description page. Don’t go by just picture of the product. Don’t forget to read about accessories that are available with product.
Before placing an order, check the price of the same product at different portals. Online shopping often offer attractive discounts. Discounts always attract customers but when the seller is offering an exceptional discount, which is not offered elsewhere, one should be careful. Other costs like shipping charge; service charge etc shall also be checked.
Make safe payment
This is the most crucial phase. This is where money is involved. Best way to pay is credit card because actual payment is deferred here. In case of any dispute or fraud, recourse is available. Fraud insurance cover is not popular in India with credit card but it is very important. I still remember a cousin who bought an item from a well reputed website and the seller turned out to be a fraud. The website was not able to help him but fraud Insurance saved his money.
If proper care is taken in above four matters, this feature of portals may not be required. But it is advisable to check grievance management policy of portals. Grievance includes non-delivery, wrong/damaged product delivered, lapse of warranty etc. Here refund and return are very important.
Sales always happen through sales contract. Placing an online order creates an agreement. Remember that you tick a checkbox ‘I agree’. Check the jurisdiction applicable in that order. It must be India and the company must have an office in India otherwise judicial system will not be able to take any action.
Few websites sell or share information collected from members. Only mandatory information must be provided while creating an account and placing an order. If possible make sure this information is not used anywhere else.
Understand records management
Records must be kept without fail for any future reference. It is advisable to keep the prints of all records from website, esepcially important details such as:
- Description of the product with all features that is ordered
- Sales agreement (copy of an order), other terms and conditions, if there are any
- Confirmation of payment made
- Email of placing an order and making a payment.
- Name, address, and contact details of seller
In case of any dispute keep additional records such as:
- Complaint registered with portal and seller
- Other communications from all parties