Try These Essential Tips for Smart and Safe Online Shopping

Last updated on : January 14 2021

Credit card in front of PC

Make Your Online Shopping Secure And Smart

This article explains how to stay safe when shopping online and how to get the best deals.

Long gone are the days when you had to endure long queues to buy something. Today, with just a click or voice command, your shopping will magically arrive at your doorstep.

In research done on online shopping, 69% (two-thirds) of Americans admit to having shopped online, with most shoppers buying clothing items. Americans are, however, not the only ones shopping online. People around the world are now aware of the benefits that come with online shopping.

Shopping online is an excellent way to avoid crowds, compare prices, and get great deals. You can do it any day, anytime, and from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. 

Online shopping is growing fast. Experts predict that, by 2023, eCommerce retail purchases will increase from 14.1% to 22%. 

Since this is inevitable, it is good to learn some tips and tricks to make online shopping something pleasant, both security- and budget-wise.

1. Security Tips when Shopping Online

The popularity of online shopping has brought with it several risks, as more people try to steal your money, login credentials, and personal data. Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure a secure and safe online shopping experience. Let's look at some of them.

A. Shop From Reputable Brands

While many retailers are now offering online shopping, you're better off shopping from brands you already know. If you have to buy from a store you don't know, do some research. Better Business Bureau is a great place to start. Also, check to ensure the site has a physical address listed, and not only a post office. 

Lastly, check to see if the product exhibit seals from consumer protection companies such as TRUSTe and the Better Business Bureau.

However, you should note that having these images alone doesn't prove anything as they can easily be copied and attached to a web page. To check, click on the image to see if it takes you to a website that verifies the site as BBB or TRUSTe certified.

You can also perform a quick Google search to see what other shoppers say about a particular merchant. Do this by entering the retailer's name, followed with a keyword such as "scam." You may be surprised at how much information you'll be able to dig from this.

B. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Free public wi-fi networks available at coffee shops, restaurants, and airports are a lifesaver when you are on the go, but hackers love them too. 

Since these networks aren't secured, any data you enter on free hotspots is at risk of being picked. 

Therefore, avoid logging into banking platforms or payment sites such as Paypal when on a public network. If you have to use free public wi-fi, ensure you do so using a VPN.

C. Only Shop From Secure Sites

Before entering any financial or personal data, ensure the website you are on is secure and legitimate. 

Reputable sites use sites like Secure Socket Layer (SSL) that encode data during transmission. 

The easiest way to know if a website uses this technology is to check if it has "HTTPS" at the start of the site's address bar and not just "HTTP."

Another way of telling if the technology is in use is when there is a lock symbol in the web browser window.  

D. Use Credit Cards To Make Payments

When shopping online, it's advisable to use credit cards or other payment methods like Paypal and not debit cards. 

Debit cards have a direct connection to your bank account, and using them will put you at a higher risk of being hacked if someone was to get a hold of your information. 

Credit cards provide more security and less liability in case your card number gets stolen. 

The Fair Credit Billing Act protects all credit card transactions, allowing you to dispute charges under particular circumstances and temporarily hold back payment while you do your investigations. 

When you report a fraudulent transaction, credit card companies usually reverse the amount immediately and conduct an investigation, which banks do not easily do with their debit cards. 

Banks will not give you back your money until they complete their investigation, which could take some weeks or even months.

E. Do Not Give More Information Than Needed 

Most online stores will ask you for some information to start a wish list or finalize your purchase. 

Only give the mandatory information. If certain information such as phone number or address is optional, then don't hesitate to skip those fields. Remember, the more information you give online, the more vulnerable you become to the bad guys. 

Also, take time to read the privacy policy of the website you are visiting to know precisely how and where your data will be shared and used.

F. Be Careful With Shopping Apps 

While apps make things a lot easier, they also contribute to stealing your private information. 

So, ensure you only download your shopping apps from reputable sources such as the Android Market or Apple App Store. 

Be careful with the permissions you accord the apps, too. If the app asks for something fishy, for instance, access to contacts, be sure to deny that.

You can also check out app reviews and comments before downloading it to ensure it doesn't have any suspicious activity. 

2. Tips For Getting Better Deals Shopping Online 

Girl shopping online on bed

Now let's talk about some tips and tricks that will give you better deals when shopping online. 

A. Check Shipping Costs

Shipping charges, especially when it comes to next day delivery, could lead to a larger total purchase price than what you would typically pay at a retail store. 

You'll find that some sites offer free shipping as a means to attract customers, but be sure to do your calculation as free shipping doesn't necessarily make the total purchase a great deal. 

Be sure to compare the total cost with other retailers before clicking checkout. 

B. Check Your Location

You should already know that online retailers use whatever information they have on you to charge you a price, which includes your location, browsing history, and previous shopping habits. 

Beware that you might end up paying more if you live in an affluent zip code because the retailer thinks you can afford it.  

To avoid this profiling, always use a VPN when shopping online. 

One of the functions of VPNs is to conceal your IP address and give you a new location. This function confuses online advertisers and other parties that want to profile you according to your area. 

C. Use Coupons

Unlike what some people think, couponing doesn't make you cheap; instead, it makes you smart. 

Always search for discount coupons before buying anything online. Most online retailers offer discounts as a marketing strategy, and you'll see this on their blogs, social media platforms, and affiliate channels.  

If the store allows you to merge different promo codes and coupons at the checkout, ensure you use them appropriately. 

For instance, if your promo code has a 10% discount and the coupon has one for 5%, apply the 10% promo code first. This ordering will deduct 10% from the total price, and after that, you can get more savings with your 5% discount coupon. 

D. Run Smart Comparison Checks

Now, to get the absolute best deals online and avoid overpaying, install the PriceBlink browser add-on (accessible on Mozilla, Chrome, and Safari). 

This plug-in will save you plenty of time by automatically picking prices for the same stuff from several sellers and arranging them for you in a chart. 

It will even notify you whenever there are any coupons available. 

You can also try the Pricegrabber app that has the same functionality. It can also scan barcodes and give "bottom line prices," including shipping, taxes, and other added expenses.  

E. Try Price Matching 

If you didn't know this, stores like Walmart, Target, and Kohl's engage in price-matching with their rivals. 

A simple search will tell you the price of a particular product in different stores to make an informed buying decision. 

Let's say you have gone to Target to buy that cookware set you have been eyeing for the longest time. You quickly search on your phone and realize that the same cookware set is cheaper at Walmart just across town. 

It would be best if you let the people at Target know by showing them proof, and they will be able to equal the lower price. 

Try this sometime. It works.

3. Conclusion

Thank you for shopping online

Online shopping offers numerous advantages to the modern-day shopper.

Today, more than any other time, we have seen the convenience that shopping through the internet can bring, especially when forced to stay indoors due to a pandemic. 

Online shopping is bound to keep growing as people adapt to the way of doing things. Therefore, we have to look for ways to make our online shopping experience affordable and risk-free. 

The above tips will help you stay safe while online shopping and also get you the best deals. 

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The Kewl Shop

The Kewl Shop is a blog. We write about all things lifestyle with a strong focus on relationships, self-love, beauty, fitness, and health. Important stuff that every modern woman or man needs to know.

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Editor: Charles Fitzgerald


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