With the Covid-19 pandemic keeping us from going out as much as we used to, many of us have turned to online shopping to buy what we need. But have you ever ordered something online only to find the product wasn’t what you expected when you opened the box? So, here are our eight tips for online shopping to make sure you’re not a disappointed buyer!
- Read all the specifications: Online sellers usually give detailed specifications of the products they’re selling. One important detail you should look out for is the size of the product – You don’t want to order what you think is a full-size toy kitchen for your kid only to get a miniature set! Some of us can also get distracted by the low price of an item and forget to read the rest of the information given by the seller before clicking ‘buy now’. So, take the time to read every single piece of information on the product so you know exactly what you’re buying.
- Try contacting the seller: If you don’t find the product information you’re looking for, try contacting the seller to ask for more details. Getting in touch with the seller can also be a good test to see how responsive the seller is. This way, you can avoid buying from someone who might take too long to post your order or worse, a seller who’s not helpful if you need to return what you bought or get a refund – which brings us to point 3.
- Look for trusted sellers: Because you can’t physically see or inspect what you’re buying, you might get the wrong item or something that’s not working properly. Although this could be caused by simple human error, there are also irresponsible sellers who are trying to cheat you by not fully giving you what you paid for.
Luckily, some online platforms have a waiting period where they hold your funds until you confirm that you’ve received your order as expected, before releasing the money to the seller. However, not all platforms do this, so it’s important that you do your research on the seller and the product before adding it to your shopping cart. Move on to point 4 to find out how to identify trusted sellers and finding good quality products!
- Check the ratings and reviews: The product review section is a great way to see if the product you’re looking at is exactly what you want. Checking the ratings and reading the reviews help you make sure you don’t waste your money buying the wrong thing or getting something that’s low quality. The reviews will also include feedback on the seller and photos of the products, so be sure to look out for this when you’re looking for a trusted seller. You should also be able to see the seller’s ratings on their seller page.
Another tip is to stay away from unknown sellers or products which don’t have any ratings or reviews at all, because you don’t know what you’ll end up getting (and you don’t want to be the first one to find out that you didn’t order from a trusted seller!).
- Check the returns policy: Most online platforms have a formal returns/refund policy that lets you easily return your product or get a refund if it meets certain conditions, so make sure you read all the fine print about returns and refunds! But the process for returns/refunds at other online sellers might not be as clear. If you’re not sure, try getting in touch with the seller to confirm their returns/refund policy before you place your order. If you still feel you can’t trust the seller, don’t buy from them!
- Use discount codes: Discount codes are a great way to save money. If you’re using an online platform or shopping app, you’ll usually get discount codes as rewards for buying something previously, or they might give away discount codes as part of promotions. Don’t forget to check what codes you have and use them at checkout!
- Do your research: Apart from reading up on the seller and their reviews, have a look at other online sellers to find the best prices for what you want to buy. You should also do your own research of the product by looking at what other sellers and websites might say about it.
- Don’t overspend: Because shopping online can be much quicker than physical shopping, you might get carried away with adding things to your shopping cart. On top of that, shopping platforms might try to attract you with all kinds of deals and promotions so that you’ll spend more. Always have a budget and follow it closely so you don’t spend more than you can afford. You can read our guide on planning and budgeting to learn more.
We know, online shopping is fast and can help you find savings compared to buying in a physical store. But, the speed and low prices can distract you from making the best use of your money. So, be sure to follow our tips to make sure you spend wisely when buying online! You can also read our other blogs on managing your money during the pandemic to help you stay in control of your finances.
And if you ever get burned by an online seller, you can make complaints here:
National Consumer Complaints Centre
Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association