Can Online Stores Really be Trusted?
A lot of us use online shopping a few times a month; some of us couldn’t imagine life withoute-commerce! But don’t let this obscure the fact that there are still many out there who have never used online shopping. And this isn’t just limited to those who don’t use the Internet at all. It’s still an unattractive prospect to a lot of people. If you’re concerned, or know someone else who is, then this quick guide is for you.
It’s not as widespread as you think
A lot of people would probably make the claim that pretty much everyone is shopping online these days. Not only are these people overestimating the reach of online shopping – they’re overestimating the reach of the Internet. We’re talking about something to which the majority of people in the world don’t even have access.
When it comes to online shopping, precise statistics are pretty hard to come by. But various sources have given estimated figures that lie in the 15-20% range when it comes to people who use the Internet but avoid shopping. This, of course, isn’t a negligible amount of people. That means there are millions of people who use the Internet who don’t use it shop. So much for “pretty much everyone shops online”, right?
So why do so many people avoid shopping online? It could be argued that quite a lot of people actually live in remote areas that don’t get served by a lot of online delivery services, but this argument doesn’t actually hold a lot of water. A lot of people simply avoid online shopping because of an inherent distrust of technology in general.
The complete abstraction of the shopping experience from tangible, brick-and-mortar stores certainly doesn’t help. There’s a strong feeling of security when you’re in a real store, looking at real items, completing transactions with real people. Of course, there are real stores, items, and people behind e-commerce, but it’s more difficult to see that!
Let’s face it: shopping online comes with a bunch of risks. People talk often about payment information and other personal information being shared across unsecure servers, meaning that cyber criminals can gain access to that information if they’re good enough at hacking. The risk of fraud is something that a lot of people think about when it comes to the topic of online shopping.
And, of course, there’s the quality of the product and the service to concern yourself with. How do you know that you’re actually going to receive the item you’re purchasing? What if the item you want to purchase turns out to be a counterfeit? These are real concerns for a lot of people, and it’s precisely why they prefer to do what so many others think is antiquated – they go to an actual store and purchase the item there instead!
What to look for
Make no mistake: online shopping can be extremely safe if you know what you’re doing. The key is to keep an eye out for several telling features of an e-commerce website. The first thing to look out for is the green padlock in the URL bar. This is an indication that the website you’re visiting is secure and has been SSL certified. Sometimes, this may not appear until the actual transaction page. In any case, online stores that don’t feature this padlock during the checkout process should be avoided at all costs.
Another thing to look out for is any indication of the service you’re actually going to get from this company. Check out the delivery times. Do they have a same day fulfillment service? Or are they a bit more vague about when your item may arrive? It should be precise and fast – otherwise, it leaves too much room for changes and obscurities. Check independent online reviews of the website to make sure others have used the service and have had a good experience.
Know your rights!
Here’s something else that keeps people safe when they’re shopping online: consumer rights. A lot of people only seem to associate these rights with physical stores, as though being sold a defective product online is just something you have to take on the chin because the seller is allowed to do that. But, just as with the purchases you make it real stores, you have right that need to be respected.
The same laws that protect customers in brick-and-mortar stores need to be complied with by businesses selling products over the Internet. If not, they risk being sued and having their business shut down completely. Remember that your consumer rights translate to the online sphere.