Nine useful tips to amp-up your online shopping game

Nine useful tips to amp-up your online shopping game
  • Try not to shop for what you may need and only purchase what you definitely need. There will always be a sale later.
  • While most large online outlets offer your money back on returns, few don’t, so always read the terms and conditions.
  • In the urge to buy something unique or cheap from international sites, you may end up paying a stupid amount on import duty.

There was a time not so long ago when shopping was an ‘event’ for an ‘event’ - a wedding in the family, a religious festival, a birthday and a few other special occasions. But now, it is something that is indulged in almost every other day or week. And while some find the experience of going to a mall thrilling, that insatiable need to shop⁠ ⁠or to find great discounts and deals is more or less limited to a phone or a computer because of the current COVID-19 situation.

While it may be tough to ignore the plethora of sale notifications from companies like Amazon and Flipkart telling us about the fabulous deals they have in store, it is crucial to be mindful of the points below before investing our hard-earned money.

1. Make a wishlist: It is easy to jump into a rabbit hole of online shopping and buy everything cheap just because you may need it later or may fit into it later. Try not to shop for the ‘mays’ and only purchase what you need now. There will always be a sale later.

2. Take time to scour the internet: Just like you don’t walk into a shop and buy the first thing you see, don’t just buy the first thing you see online that meets your requirement. While it may be tempting just to click ‘buy now’ when you see something exciting, and on sale online, it is advisable to do your research and check out a bunch of sites before you hone-in on a product. It’s common to stumble upon an identical item cheaper on another site.

3. Buy good quality out-of-season articles and save them for later: While buying for the upcoming season may seem like the sensible thing to do, what would be more prudent is to invest in premium quality products end-of-season. They are often dirt-cheap, and you may never be able to purchase it full price anyway. It may be a bummer to wait for months before you can wear your new purchase, but it will undoubtedly be rewarding when you do sift it out months later.

In fact, it’s best not to buy these when the company is offering a sale, instead, look out for these items when the sale is not on, some sites have a permanent sale section for things that are low in stock, or they want to get rid of inventory since the season is gone.

4. Measure up:
It is always best to take a tape measure and measure yourself or the space in which the item you wish to buy will go. However, some size charts can be quite deceptive. So, it may be a good idea to check out the sizes of your already-existing items and buy from the same brand or same size. Also, don’t buy something by just seeing the picture. There are hilarious memes out there when people have bought items thinking it’s of standard size and they turn out to be miniatures.

5. Make a note of the delivery time and delivery charges: No one wants to pay extra for delivery nor wait forever to receive an item. Some sites have an option wherein you can check the delivery time to your location by typing in your pin code, and some websites also have options of items that are ‘ready to be dispatched’ that will take a shorter period to arrive. There are instances where the site claims there is no delivery charge, but you will notice the same product in another site will cost you less even after paying the delivery charges. Another point to note is whether you will have to bear any cost if you have to return or exchange the product.

6. Go through the fine print, particularly the return/exchange policy: A big advantage to shopping online is the fact that you can ‘usually’ return a product and get your money back. However, while most large online outlets offer your money back, few don’t. They only offer exchange or store credit, and sometimes not even that. It would be wise to read the ‘shipping and returns’ terms and conditions or call the customer care and check with them.

7. If you are unhappy with the product, complain: It’s always smart to let the seller know if you faced any issues with the product. However, be kind and patient, a random rant by an irate customer is often ignored. Call, mail, chat, whatever floats your boat. If your problem is genuine, an enterprising seller may offer you a voucher to make up for a bad experience.

8. Be very careful while ordering from international websites: In the urge to buy something unique or cheap, you may end up paying a stupid amount in import duty. Also remember, once purchased, it will be close to impossible to return the item if dissatisfied.

9. Always read the user feedback: This feature may be unavailable in most sites, but some, like Amazon, Myntra, Marks & Spencer etc., have a feature where users can leave images and feedback on the product. Now, interpreting the feedback is also crucial.

Beware of the always-disgruntled shopper who will buy a ₹100 headphone but expect Marshall-quality audio or disingenuous extra positive feedback probably written by the seller’s kin. Then, there is a genuine lot whose opinion is resonated by most, which is usually the best indicator of whether the product is worth buying. Also, go with your gut. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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