In today’s time-poor and demand-rich environment, as a consumer we want choice, convenience, and we wanted it yesterday. The online environment is responding to these demands with a plethora of shopping choices from pure play behemoths to international brands offering Australian shipping and the bricks and mortar boutique branching onto the online space for the first time. With such an abundant array of options locally and globally it isn’t always easy to pick the wheat from the chaff. To make sure you get the most out of your online shopping experience and avoid getting burnt by potential scams or shady retailers, here are five tips that will see you through the maze.
1. Pay Securely
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When you reach the checkout, make sure your credit card details are secure by looking for a padlock symbol and https:// instead of http:// before the URL in your browser window. If you really want to make a purchase and aren’t sure if you should trust the site, pay with an online payment service such as PayPal. Using PayPal keeps your credit card details secure on a remote server and enable you to proceed without revealing them to the merchant.
2. Buy Locally
Buying from local merchants means you will be protected by Australian Consumer Law which entitles you to a repair, replacement or refund guarantee from the retailer, manufacturer or importer where the goods received are deemed as faulty or have been sold with a misleading description or under false pretences. These laws protect you as the consumer and weed out any potential online fraudsters in the Australian market.
3. Shop Big and Small
While it’s nearly always a safe bet to shop with a well-known and respected retail department store or chain, don’t discount smaller local merchants. A boutique etailer like Blue Muse selects their product range based on the brands and styles that appeal to their consumer, they pride themselves on excellent customer service and will often provide more personalised advice and assistance in finding that perfect piece. If you’re a bargain shopper, try the sale sections of your favourite boutique sites as they will be less picked-over than the department stores and are often more competitively priced.
4. Use Common Sense
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Feel out the merchant by asking questions, call them and email them to test their customer service before you commit to purchasing. If anything seems suspicious or doesn’t add up, then it will probably be worth coughing up a bit more to shop with a tried and true retailer. Be wary of any merchant that asks for a lot of personal email at the checkout and never email your credit card details to anyone regardless of how well you know them.
5. Check the Exchange Rate
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Found those Prada pumps from last season on sale with an overseas merchant? Most sites will display the purchase price in Australian dollars and charge you in their currency. The exchange rates used to calculate the price on their website can differ from the exchange rate offered by your bank or credit card provider so check their website for the latest exchange rate before you purchase! You also need to factor in international shipping costs via either the merchant or a parcel forwarding service if the merchant doesn’t deliver to Australia.