Online Shopping: The Good, The Bad

Hello out there in internet world, are you busy? Not right now, but in general. You probably are – everybody else is – and this is leading to unfortunate malfunctions in the wardrobe department: namely that we do not have enough time to keep up with fashion and actually go shopping.

Fortunately, the internet has helped in this respect, we no longer need to find the time to get to the town centres, walk around the shops, picking things up and trying them on, then standing in queue, paying for our goods, and then driving back home again (- what a palaver, it was hard enough just writing it, let alone actually do it!). Yes, luckily we no longer have to do that, because the internet is a 24/7 365 shopping centre, where it takes a fraction of the time to find what we are searching for.

Aside from the convenience factor, there are loads of reasons for shopping online, for example:

• Time saving: it takes a fraction of the time to shop online than it does to shop in the real world. There are no queues, no annoying cashiers having an ultra-slow day, and no shoppers getting in the way (- oh, and stealing the last item that you had your heart set on buying).

• You can narrow down your search and look for exactly what you want. For instance, if you need high heeled shoes in a size 6 made by a specific brand, you simply enter these search terms and press enter. This returns a list of exactly the shoes that you want. You cannot do this in the real world shoe shops; that is for sure!

• Price: as we said already, online prices are much cheaper, but this is not the only area in which you will save money. If you drive to your shopping centre, then you can save on petrol and parking; if you take the bus, then you can save on bus fare.

• No more painful feet: you can sit on your sofa and browse a whole collection of clothing and shoes. If you go to the shopping centre, you can walk up to three miles in one shopping trip, round and round and round and round! Of course, that is a long shopping trip, but it does happen (speaking from experience).

There are a few problems though, but these are easy to overcome:

• Sizing: you cannot, yet, try on your clothes or shoes online (although if they invent a special printer that can print clothes from protons, neutrons and electrons, we may be able to one day!). For this reason, you can face problems when the clothes arrive. When you find a shop you like, you can check review sites to find out if their sizing is accurate or if they are larger or smaller than standard, then buy accordingly. If the clothes arrive and they do not fit, it is no problem; you simply return them and buy the next size up or down. This is a little annoying, but is relatively rare.

• You cannot know whether a style suits you before the clothes arrive, because you cannot try them on. In shoe shops in the real world, you can wear the shoes and actually see how they fit, whether they suit you and if they look good. Again, this is easy to resolve by returning the goods and getting a refund.

The vast majority of online shops offer returns policies for such eventualities, so this should be no problem.

Save Your Time and Energy Through Online Shopping

With the advent of the internet, human life has become much easier. People use the internet to pay their monthly bills, to book travel tickets and for shopping. You can save a lot of time and energy by shopping through online. In online you can purchase anything you want by just sitting at home. You need not waste time for travelling to the shop or for any shopping mall. You get a different and interesting shopping experience through online shopping. All the leading brands have their own website, where they provide all the relevant details about their products and services. Online shopping is the right choice for purchasing any electronic items.

Computers are the most common electronic goods sold through online. You can purchase different brands of laptops and desktops from an online store. To make an online purchase, you need to place the order in the respective website. Once you select the model of the computer you wanted to buy, you can pay for it by using your credit card. After you are done with the payment, the product will be delivered to your home within a few weeks. If the computer is readily available, it will be delivered immediately and you can get it within a week at the maximum. If you have ordered for a computer with many specifications, it may take more time to be delivered.

Before proceeding with online shopping, you must decide the model and the brand you want to buy. This in turn depends on your usage and the purpose of buying a computer. If you want to check mails and prepare documents, you can simply opt for a basic model with minimum features. If you are looking for a computer for official purpose or for gaming, you have to select a system with many features. There are numerous brands of computer and each brand will have different features. So, according to your needs and preferences, you can choose the brand and the model.

You need to be very cautious and careful while buying from an online store, as you are dealing with costly products. You must ensure that online transactions are done in a secure way. So, it is always better to choose well-known websites for online shopping. You can take suggestions from your friends and peers to know about the most reliable website for online shopping. Before choosing any new website, you must read reviews about the website to know about its authenticity. Only if you are well convinced about the website, you should go ahead with the online shopping. There are many famous websites which mainly deal with online shopping. When you purchase through these websites, you need not worry about the security aspects. A website can be considered to be authentic and secure if it has ‘s’ after the protocol code (https://). By using this technique you can find out the authenticity of any website before you make an online payment on their website.

Make sure that you read the policies and norms of the website before buying computer from online stores. A few online stores will mention their guarantee and money back details on their website. You need to be aware of these details before you purchase a computer from them.

Online Shopping a Common Scenario

Online Shopping

I will never, ever buy anything over the Internet! Have you ever said this? I have heard this statement from a number of people. The first question I ask them is; Why? When I ask them this question I get a range of answers but the most popular responses are: ‘I don’t know who I’m giving my information to, how can I trust them’, or ‘The internet is not secure enough’, or ‘There are thieves everywhere on the internet.’

Let go through a little scenario.

You take your family out for a nice supper at a local restaurant, and have an enjoyable meal. The waiter/waitress brings the bill, you check to make sure it right and then hand over your credit card, they walk away to process the transaction. The server brings you the bill and the slip, you sign the slip and hand it back, the server should check to make sure that your signature is correct and hands back your credit card. This sounds like a normal transaction that happens countless times everyday around the world.

Now let’s look at what really happened here. When you handed over your credit card to this individual you gave them a wealth of information whether you realize it or not. The server has now walked away with your card and an unscrupulous person might take advantage of this. The information available to them to copy at their leisure is your credit card account number, the expiration date, the security number on the back of the card and a copy of your signature. This is more than enough information for a thief to use to purchase goods on your card.

We don’t normally think about this because using our credit cards at the local restaurant or store is a normal part of life for most of us. We have a face and usually a name to the person that we are dealing with and that gives us a certain level of comfort, an perhaps instills a certain amount of trust in the individual and the business we are dealing with, but do we really know the person we are dealing with, in most cases probably not. So what we work on is the perception of trust.

Now this is a pessimistic scenario, most people are honest, and law abiding and the overall stats around credit theft in this manner is extremely low, so I don’t want to alarm anyone but instead wanted to use this example to make my point. Doing business over the internet can be no more risky than handing your credit card over to the complete stranger serving you in the restaurant.

So now let’s look to see what happens when you purchase goods on the Internet.

You surf to a site where you find something that you either really want or need. You go through the process to order the goods and come to the screen where the company is now asking you to enter your credit card number, this generally causes the customer to pause to contemplate whether or not taking the next step is the right thing to do. This is the right reaction, you are about to enter some sensitive information on a form where this information will be sent electronically over the internet to the company that you want to deal with. So to make you more comfortable in placing an order there are a few things that you should look out for.

Making your Shopping Experience Comfortable.

When dealing with the store down the street you know how to find them if there are any problems with the products you purchase. You have an address, a phone number and most likely the name of the person that you are dealing with, so if you have any problem you know where to go and who to talk to in order to get any issues resolved.

Since the business you are dealing with is online finding them shouldn’t be a problem, but the company should also provide other means of contacting them in case you have a problem with the product.

Check to see if they offer a phone number and hours of business. If you are at all uncomfortable with dealing with a particular company, call them, you may find that a simple phone call will set your mind at ease. Suddenly you have a name and voice to go with the company.

Look for a physical address, a street address is always more viable than just a PO box. Either way this gives you another method of communicating with the company, and if your issue could lead to legal action sending a registered letter to the offending party can be very useful.

If you have questions about how a company operates, call them or send and e-mail. You’ll be able get a sense about a company, in the way they respond and how prompt they are at responding at customer requests. If they don’t respond in a professional manner then perhaps you shouldn’t deal with them, or if it takes them a long time to respond to your request then you would have to wonder if this is the same service you would receive after the sale.
Technical Queues to Look for.

There are also other technical queues to look for as well. You are going to be sending sensitive personal and financial information over the internet so you have to make sure that the company that you’re dealing with is looking after your interests as well.

Encryption:

The web page where you enter your personal and financial information should be protected by encryption. The form of encryption is called SSL (Secure Socket Layer) this is the industry standard for making secure transactions over the internet.

To verify that your information will be encrypted you should look for a visual clue that the web browser makers have built into the browser. For Internet Explorer users a small pad lock will appear at lower right hand corner of the browser window. If you see this you know that your information is being protected. For Firefox users a key will appear at the bottom right hand side of the screen to indicate that the information entered on the web page will be encrypted.

Depending on where you are in the world there are two commonly used levels for SSL encryption, 40-bit or 128-bit encryption, 128-bit being the stronger of the two types of encryption. In North America the two browsers mentioned offer 128-bit encryption.

The latest versions of the most popular web browsers, Internet Explorer and Firefox offer 128-bit encryption.
You can download the latest versions of these browsers from the following links.

Firefox:

http://www.getfirefox.com

Microsoft Internet Explorer:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx

Most companies doing business online also present a logo for the company that they use to provide the encryption, you might see logos like these. Insert logos for thawte and verisign . To make you more comfortable investigate these companies, the two mentioned here in this article are very well known and reputable sources for SSL encryption.

The link tells a story too.

When you surf to a web page that you believe to be secure or feel that should be secure you can also look at the link a the top of the page. The first charactersof the URL (Universal Resource Locator) determine what kind of information will be displayed on the screen. For example a normal web page will start with http://, this tells the web browser to expect a web page.

When a web page is supposed to be encrypted the URL will start with https://, the additional ‘s’ tells the browser that the information collected and sent from the this web page will be encrypted.

So http: //www.mystore.com/buyhere.html is not an encrypted web page where https: //www.mystore.com/buyhere.html is encrypted. Just because the URL starts with https doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look for the visual clue at the bottom of your browser, look at them both.
Making Payments over the Internet.
When most people think of shopping online they assume that they will have to use their credit card to make purchases. This, in my experience, can make people very nervous, especially when dealing with a company that they are not familiar with.

There are a number of things that you can do to limit the risk even further when dealing with a company that you are not 100% familiar with.

So you don’t want to use your platinum credit card with the huge limit on it, because you don’t want to risk that much credit on an unfamiliar company. Your credit card vendor should be able to provide you with another card with a smaller limit, somewhere around the $500 to $1000 mark, something that you feel comfortable with. So even if by chance you run into someone who is out there to be malicious your risk has been reduced by not offering them a card number that will give them access to thousands of dollars.

Another increasingly popular way to make payments online is through a payment processing company, here you place the amount of money you need to make the purchase in an internet account with the payment company and then the payment company will in turn pay the vendor you are purchasing from.

This form of payment is secure for both the purchaser and the online business. The company you are purchasing from never sees your personal financial information and your financial information is only available to the payment company. This way you are not sharing your credit card information with a bunch of businesses you only have to deal with one. In addition you are reducing your risk not only because you are only sharing your financial information with one company, this companies main purpose is to provide these services, it is their livelihood they are in that business to make it work not only for themselves but also for their customers, which include both the businesses that sign up to use their services but also for the consumer. Additionally youdecide how much money to place in this account, so instead of potentially risking more than the purchase price you can simply put in exactly the amount required to make the purchase, you control it, it’s your account.

The downside to payment processing company is that not all online businesses are subscribers to their services. If you feel more comfortable making purchases over the internet in this manner call or write to the company that you want to deal with to see if perhaps this is an option. If enough people do it the company may decide to make it a payment option for their customers.

If you’re not comfortable with providing any financial information over the internet contact the company they might be able to provide you with COD service, or take your order over the phone. Call the company most will be more than happy to accommodate your needs.
I hope that this has helped you to understand some of the issues and clear up some of the misconceptions about making purchases over the internet. In review here are the few things that you should look for.

1. Does the company provide multiple ways to contact them if there is an issue?

2. Is your personal information going to be encrypted when it is sent to the company?

3. Does the business offer different payment options?

4. Are you comfortable with the company you are dealing with?

5. How quickly do they respond to customer requests?

Here are a few things to look for once you have purchased from the company.

1. A confirmation that the transaction has been processed should appear on the screen as well it should be delivered in the form of an e-mail. This information should be the same as a receipt and contain information indicating when the order was received, an invoice number, an indication of when the order will be shipped and contact information incase there is a problem with the order. I would suggesting printing the web page containing the transaction information and when the e-mail arrives print it as well, for your records of the purchase. This is just incase the e-mail gets delete by accident.

2. Once the order has been shipped, you should receive another e-mail indicating the tracking number and the web link you can use to track your package.

If there are any issues with shipping your order the company should be prompt in sending a message to let you know what the issues are and when you can expect to seeyour delivery arrive. The company should also give you the option to cancel the order and get a full refund. Shopping online is not to be feared, it is the next step in commerce. Much like the advent of the catalogue and making purchases over the phone, shopping over the internet is simply the next logical step. The catalogue is now electronic and has the capability to reach millions of potential buyers, and instead of calling in your order the consumer simply enters some information and presses a few buttons on the screen. The advent of SSL and other technologies to make commerce online safe and secure has pushed this new avenue for businesses further than ever expected and there is no end to the growth in site. Every day there are more and more vendors embracing the internet as a source to reach new markets and open the world to new products. Just as the internet has made the world a smaller place to live electronic commerce is bringing people closer to the products that otherwise would never have been available to them.

If you have any additional questions that this article has not addressed or would like some clarification on any of the points made here, please feel free to send an e-mail to questions@new2technology.com, or visit www.new2technology.com we are here to help.

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