I never buy anything unless I really, really need it. Most recently that's meant biking gloves and a rake. But my wife was recently in need of maternity pants, and hit the web in search of a deal.
Here are her 7 tips for online shopping, which originally appeared on her wonderful new blog.
- Make sure you’re on a legit site. This is an obvious one. If you’ve never heard of that company before, do some looking around first. Also, keep in mind that some vendors have different US and Canadian sites. This could change some of the inventory and shipping costs.
- Find out the shipping options and costs. If the vendor is local, you might even be able to pick it up yourself to save on shipping costs. Also, consider the shipping couriers they use, e.g., Canada Post, UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc. If duty and handling charges are involved, these prices may vary depending on the courier.
- Find out the exchange/return policy and costs. There are some sites that offer free exchanges and returns, i.e., you don’t have to pay for shipping costs. There are also some that allow these transactions at stores so you don’t have to go through mail. Just make sure you don’t get stuck paying to return something. Most of the time, the initial shipping costs aren’t refundable so why would want to pay twice?
- Look for coupon/promo codes. RetailMeNot is a good site to check. Retailers also use social media to push promo codes, so check their Twitter feeds or Facebook pages.
- For clothing or shoes, try it on in a store first before purchasing online if possible. If you can’t, look for reviews. They will tell you if things fit small/large, the quality of the item, etc.
- Pay with a PayPal account. It’s free and it offers a good purchase protection for buyers.
- Check your payment account regularly, e.g. credit card statements or PayPal. Thankfully, my account has not been compromised with all the online shopping I’ve done, but it’s always good to check. Also, it’s good to verify the purchase charges.
Happy and safe shopping!