How to Shop online-Online shopping tips


online shopping

If you don’t know an online retailer by its brand or reputation, these tips can help you determine whether they’re operating a secure and trustworthy Web site before you enter your credit card number or personal information.

Before you select a store

Does a background check? Look for a physical address (not a Post Office box), request a catalog by mail or call and talk to a company representative.

Companies can put these seals on their sites if they abide by a set of rigorous standards—such as how complaints and disputes will be resolved and how personal information can be used. If you don’t readily see these seals on the site, look in the privacy policy or “Terms & Conditions” which should be clearly posted on the site.

Tip: If you do see the seals above, click them to make sure they link to the organization that created them. Some unscrupulous merchants will put these logos on their sites without permission, and they’re less likely to get caught if they don’t link back to the site.

• Find out what other shoppers have to say about an online store on comparison sites such as Epinions or Bizrate. These sites have customer evaluations built into their design with a number of smiley faces or stars.

• Review their shipping methods and policies to determine what carriers they use, their shipping rates, and if they provide tracking and insurance. Also find out where they ship from—goods are sometimes sent from international locations, which require customs and extra time.

Research a Specific Product

Now that you know specific makes and models you might like to buy, it’s good to get feedback on what other consumers thought when they purchased the product.

1. Return to to ShopWiki.

2. Type the name of the specific make and model of product you’d like to research into the Search field.

3. Click Search.

4. Click on the specific item you’d like to read up on.

5. Click on the “Product Reviews” tab to read reviews from Amazon.com, Target, Epinions.com, and other resources, all compiled into one page.

• Other great sources for product reviews are:

Product reviews for all topics: Consumer Reports – please note that Consumer Reports is a subscription service, so full product reviews may not be available.

Comparison Shop

In the days before the Internet, if you wanted to compare prices at different shops, you actually had to walk or drive from store to store. The following websites allow you to compare prices across hundreds of Internet sites at the click of a mouse.

• Important tips to keep in mind:

1. Always check the price of shipping! If Shop A has a higher price but offers free shipping, it’s better than Shop B’s low price + high shipping.

2. For big-ticket items, you may feel more comfortable using a trusted retailer. In that case, check these sites to see what the average price sale price is for your item; that way you know what price range to expect from your favorite store.

3. Check the return policy; the peace of mind you get with a clear return policy may be worth a few extra dollars.