Be a Savvy Ecommerce Shopper

This article does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my opinion.

Before Ecommerce, everyone is used to face-to-face offline retail purchase. Ecommerce is all about trust. Have you met Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos? Clearly not. Buyers and sellers are two involved parties who probably have never met each other before. However, Ecommerce totaled 840 Billion USD in 2014 and a trillion USD by 2016 and has brought convenience, cost saving and easy access to goods to billions of people worldwide.

Without the continued trust and support from buyers, it is impossible to keep this up. Here is a short list of Ecommerce hacks that you can adopt and make your online experience valuable and wonderful:

Photo by Vudie

Hack #1: Trust The Right Seller

When doing online shopping, be on the lookout for contact information on the page so that you know you can reach out if there is a problem. If you are extremely cautious, reach out to them to test if the response is fast and accurate. Remember to social proof the site through their Facebook and Twitter profiles to see what other users are talking about the site. Also, there are 3rd party online review communities such as TrustedCompany and Trustpilot where you can look at reviews on Ecommerce sites. On the checkout page, make sure there is no hidden cost. The pricing should be clear with breakdown. Hidden costs at the last moment shows the site is dishonest and post-sale experience wouldn’t be that far off.

When in doubt, always go for well known sites such as Amazon, Rakuten and eBay.

Hack #2: Delivery and Return Policies

Delivery Policy is the formulated rules of delivery as agreed between the buyer and seller for goods/services purchased for a date in the future. You should know what the basic shipping time is and when do you need the item. For overseas shipping, go for affordable speed upgrade to reduce wait time and do not forget tracking information and delivery signature.

So what happens after the good is delivered and you don’t like it? It is a test — the moment when customer tries to do returns which effectively means that sales transaction didn’t happen before. This could be due to multiple reasons such as you finding something better, a lower price or realizing the mismatch. As the returns has been increasingly growing, many retailers have shortened the time period. You should look out for the return policy especially on return window and its conditions (eg. sale items normally can’t be returned).

Hack #3: Confidential Financial Information

Given the creativity of the frauders now, you have to been careful on who you disclose your information to especially so on payment. Not all sites are equal, do some due diligence to confirm its authenticity and security.

Or use a third-party payment processor instead of giving your payment information directly to the online site via its form. Most accept payment from trusted third-party processors, such as PayPal or Google Wallet. This limits the risk of your payment details getting into the wrong hands, because the confidential data such as card number do not go through the merchant.

In addition, look out and check for security seal such as Norton Secured on the site. If you are expecting to fill up some confidential information, do make sure the site is providing secured channel (https) and valid ssl certificate.

Hack #4: Coupons, Rebates and Vouchers

Coupon code is used to get discount off the purchase and make your cart cheaper. Discount sites such as Slickdeals and Dealmoon in US are abundant everywhere, you just have to find the ones that suit your purchase needs. At times, merchants embed these codes in their regular newsletters/loyalty program out to consumers so don’t forget to subscribe.

Voucher can be sold by other retailers or merchant itself as a “pre-paid” value to products/services and is normally sold cheaper than the original value. In contrast to coupon, these have to been purchased by consumers.

Rebates is a partial refund of the purchase and takes place post-sale. Merchant might provide store only rebate value as part of promotional campaign or undelivering their promises. Alternatively, Affiliate networks such as Ebates and Shopback are given commission to refer you to shop on their site. Instead of keeping all the commission, they will share part of it as rebates to you.

Hack #5: Be Rewarded Through Engagement

Follow the brands on the social media and look out for their announcements and marketing campaigns on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or any related platforms. Brands could be quite generous to throw on some discounts codes to attract more followers.

Social-media-powered Flash sales have been become a trend especially during festive occasions. You can expect exclusive access to new products and huge discounts/freebies within the specific time frame.

Congratulations, you have just finished the online shopping 101 course! If you also happen to be an online merchant, you now know that we live in a world that is well-informed and customers are spoilt for choices who will switch to other others in no time. The future belongs to the merchants who engage them by providing value, thereby earning their trust.

Article has also been republished in the following:

Product Manager, Ex-PayPal, Ex- Google. Mentor in ONL, SBC. TechCrunch Contributor

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