Safe Online Shopping: 10 Tips to Avoid Getting Burned

You need to buy gifts for the holidays and you need to purchase them quickly. You can either brave the madness of shopping at your local mall or kick back at home and buy all your gifts online. Doing your holiday shopping online can be a great way to save time while you find the right gifts at the best price. You’ll skip the parking lot wars, avoid getting the flu from your fellow shoppers, and stay out of pick-pockets’ crosshairs. But though it may be easy and convenient to shop in your pajamas, you still need to take precautions to make sure your electronic ‘purse strings’ are safe and secure. Here are some simple tips for safe online shopping:

Secure your computer. Make sure your home computer has updated security software installed, and run regular system check to keep hackers’ keylogging viruses away.

ONLY shop from home. Don’t do your online shopping from the local café, the airport or other public places. These open networks are easier targets for identity thieves to hack into your computer. Only shop from your secured home network.

Click carefully. Your favorite store just sent you a great coupon! But wait! Before you click on email links, be sure of where they lead. Scam emails can look just like the real ones from your favorite stores, with links that appear to take you to legitimate sites. But hover over the link and you may see a different web address – this could be a fake site, designed to gather your credit card information for fraud. Your safest bet is to manually navigate to your favorite retailer’s website.

Know thy merchant. One of best parts of online shopping is easily comparing prices to find a great deal. You may find the gift you want for half the price – but make sure the merchant is reputable and trustworthy. If you haven’t done business with a merchant before, look for online reviews. Using aggregators like Amazon.com and Yahoo Shopping is another good way to make sure your merchant doesn’t take you for a fraudulent sleigh ride.

Lock down your site. When you visit a retailer’s website, look for “https” at the beginning of the URL. This “s” – along with a small gold lock in the lower-right corner of your browser – indicates an extra level of security for your online shopping.

Log out. Always logout securely when leaving a website.

Check if your payment details are stored. Some online shopping sites ask if you want to store your payment details for future purchases. It’s always handy to have your information stored, especially if you use that site often. But, watch out for this on lesser-known websites.

Compare ‘real’ prices. Make sure you know how much you will be charged for shipping, and if there are any taxes or fees that will be added to your online purchase. These ‘extras’ can add up quickly, so be sure you include them when comparison shopping. Many retailers offer free shipping around the holidays, and others allow free in-store pick-up of your online purchases – easy ways to add extra savings to your holiday shopping.

Know the Return Policy. Read the merchant’s return policy before making your purchase. One of the downsides of online shopping is the inability to ‘try it on’ or see the item before purchasing, so make sure your merchant offers you an easy way to return/refund your purchase if it’s not what you expected.

Choose Credit – not Debit. If possible, use a credit card to pay for online purchases. Federal law limits your liability to $50 in the event of fraud. Better yet, many credit card companies will waive this liability, and offer advanced fraud protection and detection programs to keep you safe.

Keep an eye out. If you are doing a lot of online shopping, make sure to check your account and credit card statements regularly to verify all charges. If you have questions about a transaction or suspect fraud, call your financial institution immediately.

Save your Receipts! Just as with in-store shopping, you’ll want to save all your receipts from online shopping. You may choose to save emailed receipts on your computer, or print them out and file with other receipts.

The bottom line! You can take advantage of the Internet’s great shopping opportunities and still have peace of mind!

The Pros and Cons of Online Shopping

Online shopping is becoming more and more popular each year as people embrace the convenience, selection, and low prices available when shopping online. In this article I speak to some of the pros and cons of online shopping.

There is something to be said for walking into a physical store and being able to see, touch, and easily ask questions about a product. One could argue that brick and mortar shopping is a more engaging experience, often filled with background music of some sort, along with the sights and sounds of other customers and clerks available to provide assistance when needed. Different products can be compared side by side with very little effort. One benefit of brick and mortar shopping is its organization, which allows one to locate the right department and the right shelf pretty easily. Everything the store offers is made available via a layout of straight-forward, logical departments. Online sites provide an organizational layout and text search capability, but this different way of locating a product of interest is one online shopping difference that takes some getting used to. Other benefits of brick front shopping is being able to get out of the house, exercise a bit, breathe some outdoor air and avoid cabin fever (this type of activity was quite important in the winter when I lived in Chicago).

People that are cautious in nature might find certain features of online shopping a bit hard to get used to, such as getting acclimated to what would be the equivalent of searching for merchandise with tunnel blinders that only permit a very narrow view of what is directly ahead of one’s eyes. Brick and mortar stores are physically arranged to make it more probable that certain items will be seen more than others. Online stores also provide focus on certain products over others. Most websites contain product descriptions, but the descriptions can be either too general or too detailed, making it difficult to compare two or more products on their features. If the shopper has a question that is appropriate for a human being such as a clerk in a store, where does the online customer go to ask the question? There is something lost in not having an informed person available to provide an immediate answer. Many popular online shopping sites now provide customer reviews-independent reviews provided by customers that have bought each product. These reviews go a long way toward providing enough detailed information about a product so one can determine whether or not to purchase it.

In the USA online shopping malls and websites address the limitations found in the online shopping process by offering near enough to a no-questions-asked return policy to ensure the happiness of the online customer. Even so, one downside of online shopping is having to wait to obtain the product, depending on whatever mode of shipping is selected. If a product needs to be refunded or returned for whatever reason, there’s the inconvenience of returning the product. This often involves a phone call and trip to the local post office, after which one waits again to either receive a replacement or refund. Compare this to just running the item and receipt back to a local brick front store and having either a refund or an exchanged product in hand within a few minutes.

Let’s talk about security. In a physical store, cash can be used, and if a debit or credit card is used the shopper gets to see who processes his or her card. Also, one is usually not required to provide personal information such as a name and physical address. Not so with online shopping, as the item must be addressed and delivered to a person at an address. Cash cannot be used online, so what entity processes the card and captures the personal information over the web? And how well is the personal information protected? One way to greatly reduce risk when shopping online is to use virtual credit card numbers. These numbers are provided by credit card issuers such as Citi and Discover, and can be used only once, so even if the credit card information is captured by some other entity during the transaction, it cannot be used to complete a second purchase. I use virtual credit card numbers when I shop online, and I highly recommend this practice.

Let us look at the benefits of shopping online. If the four-wheeled vehicle in one’s driveway is expensive to gas up, then it’s an obvious plus to be able to shop the virtual market and save transportation costs. It is also a “greener” arrangement-computers emit little or no carbon even when powered. For those who find it tiring to deal with crowds, there are none in cyberspace, and no lines to wait in during checkout. The magical online domain has no weather to hinder one, either-all shopping is done within a sheltered environment, safe from inclement weather. And there’s no need to worry about keeping one’s children together and in sight when online shopping. But perhaps the best feature of all is the cost savings that can be realized online. Online items can more often that not be purchased and shipped for substantially less, because the price doesn’t include any overhead costs associated with having a physical brick and mortar store. In most cases there is also no sales tax either, unless the merchant maintains some type of physical presence in the state where the item is purchased. For example, Amazon.com only charges sales tax on orders that are shipped to Kansas, North Dakota, New York or Washington, and Overstock.com only charges sales tax on orders that are shipped to Utah. To sweeten the deal, many merchants offer special online coupons, coupon codes and promotional codes that provide additional discounts.

As an example of the money that can be saved when shopping online, I bought a “Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus” food processor and used the online comparison shopping engine at Shopzilla.com to find the best deal, which was at Etronics.com for $172 with no sales tax and free shipping. A local Sears store had it listed at $199.99 and would have charged about $16 in sales tax for a total of $216. In this particular case I saved $44 (20%) shopping online and using Shopzilla to put online stores in competition for my business. And it only took me about 10 minutes of effort. With the advent of cheaper computing and increasing levels of online competition, people are generally becoming used to accessing the world through the eyes of cyberspace. So it is the coming thing, and a tide that is not likely to be turned. We as a society have adapted to other significant changes over time, such as the advent and convenience of air travel, trains and automobiles over horses, and online shopping is yet another paradigm shift we will adapt to.

In summary, when looking at the pros and cons of online shopping, the pros outweigh the cons, especially for items that are widely available and for which the best price is being sought. Shoppers save time and money buying what they need online and virtual store owners can run their businesses on far less overhead. The fact that the pros outweigh the cons is evident when one looks at the sharp increases in online shopping that have occurred on a global basis over the past few years.

Is Online Shopping Better Than Actually Going to the Malls?

In the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in online shopping. Despite difficult economic times, online shopping is thriving. There are a number of reasons why online shopping has become more popular than going to traditional ‘brick and mortar’ shopping malls.

Below are a number of reasons why online shopping is better than actually going to the malls:

1. Going to a traditional shopping mall requires getting ready, getting the proper clothing, doing your hair and make up, making sure you have your money, and getting in your vehicle and driving there. When you shop online, you just switch on the computer, connect to the internet, and start shopping. It is easy, convenient, and it does not matter what are wearing and what you look like.

2. Transportation can be a hassle when you shop at a traditional mall. You have to spend money on fuel, fight the traffic, locate a parking spot, and carry all your purchased items to the car. With online shopping, you don’t have to worry about transportation hassles and often your packages are delivered right to the door. If you don’t have a car, taking a bus can be a real hassle when going to a mall.

3. Shopping malls are well-known for the crowds. It can be frustrating trying to get the items you want to purchase. With online shopping, there are no pushy crowds and you can relax and enjoy your online shopping experience.

4. Shopping online is better for the environment. Most online retailers keep their items at a central distribution centre so there is less energy being used which is better for the planet. Retail stores have such energy consuming things as lights and heating and cooling units. As well, shipping from online stores is better on the environment. According to the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, “shipping two 20 pound packages by overnight air – the most energy-intensive delivery mode – still uses 40 percent less fuel than driving 20 miles round-trip to the mall or store.”

5. Online shopping is a definite time saver. Most people shop on the weekends. Many shopping experiences at a traditional mall can take an entire day. Online shopping saves time so you can enjoy the rest of your weekend. Or, you may have the weekend free if you online shop during the weekday. You can shop any time of the day or night.

6. You can save a lot of money when you online shop. There are many deals on the internet just waiting to be scooped up. As well, most online shops offer free shipping on a certain amount purchased. You are also paying a cheaper price because online stores have less overhead.

7. Shopping online gives access to millions of different products. When you go to a shopping at a shopping mall, you only have access to what the stores have in stock so you end up going from store to store trying to find what you are looking for. Sometimes, it is not always available. When shopping online, you almost always find what you are looking for. You can also comparison shop to find the deals.

Online shopping is continuing to grow at astounding rates. With improvements in secure payment processing, the online shopping industry shows no signs of slowing down. More consumers are discovering that it is a great way to find exactly what you are looking for at a low price.

How Does The Existing Economical Situation Influence Online Shopping?

Now is the time for businesses to make a decision to get online. Factors such as the decrease in the number of customers, rise in cost of fuel, growth in the number of people who shop online, oblige companies to shape their online presence.

Consumers are also driven to shop online as it is less expensive to buy your goods online than spending money on the gas and driving to the stores.

In an article from April 2011 it is mentioned that UK consumers prefer to make use of e-commerce websites when they take pleasure in shopping as gasoline prices are rising gradually. A study carried out by the Institute of Grocery Distribution determined that 52% of consumers in UK will cut down their shopping journeys if the prices of gas keep on going up.

Rather than driving to the shopping malls, people will choose to take advantage of the neighborhood shops or buy their groceries and luxuries by means of online shopping. 33% of the respondents to the study declared that online shopping would be their alternative in resisting the high costs of gas.

Derived from these results, plenty of sites are currently presenting to people opportunities of shopping online. An example is qpons-r-us.com which is an online coupon website that wishes to supply people with pleasant shopping experience. An additional example is My Shopping Genie that hands over various places where you can locate what you are looking for and also presents you the results according to the price. My Shopping Genie is a free application that works from your computer and it does the price comparison for you. It assists you with finding the best deals online.

Study illustrates that with the costs of living increasing, more people are searching for online coupon websites to obtain the extra discount off their acquisition. As a result more websites similar to qpons-r-us.com appear. For that reason My Shopping Genie advises companies to offer coupons via the application to the consumers of the genie. With the growth in the number of people who are choosing now shopping online, companies have huge benefits by having their existence online and offering coupons to their clients.

Online shopping presents benefits for customers too: time saving, money saving, broad variety of products and brands to choose from, shop from home, etc.

Online shopping turns out to be more and more popular. An editorial from April 2011 illustrates that UK online shoppers spend £ 5.1 billion in March this year which is £ 82 per person. The first quarter of 2011 faced an 18% increase compared with the same period last year.

Ideal Shopping Direct, the independent TV and online shopping company, testified that its total sales expanded by 13.5% in the last year. What is fascinating is that the main proportion of its increase comes from online selling, which increased by 70%.

Mintel, the market research company, forecasts that UK online clothing sales will increase 60% by 2015. They discovered that in 2010, 34% of UK shoppers bought cloths online compared to only 25% in 2009.

These results demonstrate that companies would profit from offering to their customers options to shop online. Consequently companies should invest in the newest online technology and integrate e-commerce into their marketing strategy.

There are by now a large number of retailers that are turning to smaller stores or online presence. Some examples are Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Office Depot. Due to the consumer shift to online shopping, Best Buy is concentrating on their online sales, while reducing the size of their stores. Online shopping is going to be a benefit for the company itself but also for its clients as the lower cost structure permits online retailers to present lower prices.

The possessors of big shopping malls or other companies should not be frightened by this revolution but instead should take advantage of online shopping and integrate it into their marketing strategy. Benefit from sites such as My Shopping Genie and be open for market changes.

Reasons of Attraction for Online Shopping

In the competitive world all of us are running to save our precious time. The mass number of people do prefer online as the source of purchase as it is too convenient. The act of buying products is referred the word shopping. Sometimes this is done for a pleasurable activity and sometimes to get fulfill for your basic requirements like, food and cloth. We can see the outcome of this explosion all around us. The majority of the consumers preferred to shop online.

An individual can purchase almost everything based upon their choice and needs. Just on a single click all your essentials get delivered at your doorstep. Shopping through online is such an user friendly that you need not require to stand in a long queue to make your payment. Most of the people love online shopping because it makes things much easier and smoother. The business organizations preferred this channel as a scope to access into a worldwide network. The demands are increasing day by day.

The three important factors for every commercial organizations are acquisition, retention and enhancement can easily maintain. It helps out to reduce the pressure, save your energy while buying, and you can easily check and compare the value with other. The shoppers can shop more frequently through online portals. One can get almost everything in one place at a cheaper cost. A consumer living in any country of the world can consume their deserving product. The customers are also accepting it as a channel to give a gift that would be of superior quality, and also reasonable in price. The buying and selling through online plays an important role in many people’s lives. Online shoppers can select any time of the day or night to shop in a free mind, even you can do it from home or from your workplace. A person just needs to log onto the Internet, visit the preferred website to shop online and select the items based on their desires and easily get the delivery at the mentioned time. They can purchase a variety of things from shopping online.

Online Shopping has a numerous advantage. It is the shopping destination of the internet users across the country. E-commerce provides a way out of smarter shopping. It is designed with the modern technology for the development of internet. Shopping online permitted you to buy things without distracting your daily schedule. The English entrepreneur Michael Aldrich invented online shopping in the year of 1979. It is a strategy used to learn more about the customers need in order to make a stronger relationship with them. It’s an option to create lifetime customers by delivering on promises consistently. The market has already created its impact and has proven its uniqueness on the eye of the customer.

Some exclusive features make it more popular like you can get free shipping delivery as well as cash on delivery. The expectations of all the customers are different according to each of their age, gender, experience and culture. You want to purchase an item that are not available in your hometown area you can easily order it through online shopping. Lots of people considered it as a perfect way of shopping for getting the attractive offers at discount rate. The goodwill of online shopping helps to enhance the business. Growth and development of the industry indicate the development of the economy. It is one of the easiest technique to focus on the customer needs so that it’s in a position to provide total customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty. It fulfills all of your needs for every occasion.