Ecommerce Information

Shopping Online: What You Should Know

For some people, shopping online is as normal as driving a car. It's become part of the norm. For others, the prospect of making internet purchases is a scary one. Here are a few tips to make your online shopping experience more rewarding.

Research the company or business that is selling to you:

- Look for a phone number and address; all legitimate businesses will have one.

- Understand the return policies, in case you're not happy with the product you receive.

- Ask questions. If the company has quality service, they'll have the answers for you.

Research the product or service you are buying:

- When shopping online, you don't get the benefit of picking it up the product and taking a good look at it. You may want to just use the internet for your research and later see if you can find it in a local store . But the internet also allows you to search for the best deals. So, in this sense, you may choose to use the local store to put you at ease about the product, and purchase it online to get the best price.

- Look for reviews of the product. Get unbiased opinions from consumers or consumer advocates who have experience with the product.

- Beware added taxes, fees, shipping, and handling costs. Sure, you may have found a great price, but make sure you're still getting one when all is said and done. Buying out of state or province could save you in taxes, but it might cost you in shipping. Check it out first.

- Allow for adequate delivery time, especially if you're buying a gift or purchasing around the holidays.

Look for a secure website when purchasing:

- Secure sites will have a URL that starts with "https" instead of "http". This means your confidential information (like your credit card number) will be protected with a security certificate.

- Look for a little yellow lock on the status bar at the bottom of your web browser. Double-click it to get information about the certificate that is protecting the site.

Be prepared:

- Keep a record of your purchase. Get an order number, confirmation number, or receipt and keep it handy, even after you receive the item. Treat it the same as an in-store purchase.

- If you run into a problem, don't give up. Contact the online merchant. Most reputable companies will want to make sure you are a happy customer.

For more help with shopping online and choosing gifts, visit

A Heath is a gift researcher for

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