The internet has changed our buying habits. Many people have found the convenience of online shopping to be a great experience. You can easily click and see the product. You have a fun time shopping, browsing, reading and getting informed about products. And you don’t have to take time out from your busy schedule to fight traffic, crowds and lines to buy the perfect gift for your recipient.
No wonder Internet business generated $301 billion in revenue last year, by a University of Texas estimate.
If you compare shopping online to offline you would think as far as security goes, it would favor offline shopping, right? Not really.
In the years past, shoppers were more reluctant to do their shopping online – now things have changed greatly. And that confidence in consumers directly reflects the enormous growth of online sales.
I have a friend who took his wife out for a romantic evening to a local restaurant. The last place you would expect credit card fraud to happen. By the time he noticed they had charged him double the amount for their dinner, it was too late to go back to the restaurant. He rang me and we concluded that it must be a mistake. It was later that we found out that the restaurant owner’s reputation was a bit shaky. Apparently he frequently overcharged customers in the hope they wouldn’t notice.
I don’t know. It’s a funny world we live in.
Does this mean the internet is safe? Relatively yes, but don’t forget, the Internet is an open field and there are some bad elements out there.
We have been shopping online for years. We never had a problem with credit card fraud on the Internet. But then again, we always take precautions. From this point forward, you will see 10 checkpoints online merchants have to pass to secure our business…
Will your credit card details be safe?
Reputable companies online know that one of the things preventing customers from placing orders with them is customers not been sure whether their credit card details will be safe. Responsible companies have taken this concern onboard and have set up their systems to provide the customer with maximum security.
How would you know if you are entering your payment details on a secure page?
You should see a picture of a lock on the bottom right hand side of your screen. This lock will appear on the page that you fill in when ordering and ensures that your name, address and credit card information is being sent to the online store through encrypted code. This encrypted code means that a hacker will not be able to steal your credit card information.
Does the online store value your privacy and confidentiality?
Prior to the internet days, when I used to order something from a mail order company, mysteriously I would be sent advertising from companies that I hadn’t done business with. Back then I didn’t know that companies sold your personal information for advertising purposes to other companies.
Receiving junk mail was annoying but because of the cost involved, it didn’t happen constantly. Imagine now if you do business online with a company that doesn’t respect your privacy and sells your email address.
Next time you open your email software, you are bombarded with emails ranging from a dozen to hundreds. Now that’s not annoying – it’s intolerable.
So moral of the story here, make sure your email address won’t be sold. Ensure the online store has a privacy statement which would state they will maintain your personal details in the strictest privacy and confidentiality.
Does the online store have contact details?
You may think, of course an online store would display their contact details on their website. You would be surprised. I was. No email address, nothing. This is a sure red flag.
Reputable companies will have contact details.
Do they have a refund policy?
Offline stores have a refund policy and you go into the store, physically select the product and are then allowed to return it for whatever reason. If a refund policy is important in offline stores, it’s twice as important for online stores.
The internet in convenience surpasses the offline world when it comes to shopping – but one thing it can’t match is that offline you can physically touch the product. Therefore a refund policy of 30 days is great, more is better. No refund policy and I would stay away.
Do they send you some sort of confirmation when you place your order?
When you place your order what you need is something to tell you they have receive it, a receipt if you like.
A reputable company will either issue you one via email or display a new page of their website where they thank you and tell you the order went through okay and your product is on its way.
When do they deliver?