With high-tech data encryption and other security technologies, online shopping is one of the most secure forms of commerce available. It can also be a convenient and stress-free way to address your shopping needs.
What follows are 8 tips for maximizing your online shopping experience by enhancing your security — and ultimately your peace of mind. If you follow these 8 tips you will avoid many problems.
Make sure the web browser on your computer is current and you have download the latest version. All major web browsers are capable of secure shopping sessions with full encryption.
A secure web browser will not protect you if you are shopping on a site that is not secure. Reputable sites have security measures in place to protect your online shopping experience and use encryption on their servers to protect you during checkout. Verify the security of your checkout session within the status bar of your browser by looking for the appropriate security icon (often a “locked” padlock). You can click on this icon for important security details about your current shopping checkout session. The absence of this icon (or an “unlocked” padlock) means your checkout session is probably not secure. Never enter your credit card if the checkout session is not secure.
Credit cards generally provide the highest level of legal protection from fraud and liability. All major credit card issuers also have customer service teams to help with dispute resolution and fraud claims should they arise.
While returns are usually not needed and many online stores make this process very easy, it’s still a good idea to review the store’s return policy so there are no surprises should you need to make a return. Please note that returns can alter the minimum order size and result in a removal of free shipping or other discount that had a minimum qualifying order size. Many stores also require a RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) before they will accept a return so be sure to follow their procedures correctly.
Most online shopping carts provide a final review page so you can verify your order before submitting. At this time be sure to check your shipping and billing addresses for accuracy, your items ordered (quantity, size, color, etc.), and any other order details. If you used a coupon code or discount link, then, unless stated otherwise, the appropriate action or discount should be reflected on this page. Your shipping total should be clearly stated here as well. Generally your state’s sales tax, when required, will be itemized as well. If all is correct, be sure to click the submit button (or link in some cases) to authorize the purchase.
After your final review and order submission, you should receive a confirmation and/or receipt (and often a second one via email). It’s a good idea to keep a copy of this page by printing or saving as a pdf document for your records until your order has arrived and you have checked it for accuracy. Be sure to save your order confirmation email also. This confirmation or receipt often contains store policies, shipping information, tracking numbers, customer service contact information and other helpful details. It can also expedite the return process should you need that.
Many online stores will notify you via email when you order has shipped and will provide you with an electronic tracking numbers. This tracking number enables you to track the location of your package as it makes its way to you. (We have links to major shipping companies where you can track your order’s status and estimated arrival date.)
When your order arrives, be sure to carefully check the invoice to see if any items are backordered, canceled or being sent by separate package. Many online stores have multiple warehouses and so ship a single order from many destinations meaning that your order may arrive over a period of a few days and in several different packages. Make sure all items arrived intact and without damage. Does it work? Does it fit? Are all the pieces there? These and other similar questions should be verified quickly so a return request, if needed, can be initiated before it’s too late. Often a return process must be started within 30 days of receipt or the item is no longer eligible for return.
By following these eight tips you can maximize your online shopping experience and avoid most of the problems some people experience. Many who have made these tips part of their standard online shopping procedure feel that online shopping is the most convenient form of shopping.
This post was last updated on July 20, 2023.
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