The advent of new emerging technologies has enabled customers to reach their shopping experience from anywhere. Thanks to digitalization that has taken over even in small villages today, the e-commerce giants have entered into these huge and untapped markets. These e-commerce tech giants have helped connect the buyer and seller, thereby protecting some of the most ancient and even dying arts / tradition and products. All you need as a customer is a smart phone and glance through your various choices and once the choice is made, the online shopping helps you connect direct with the seller. Like any system, e-buying is a great experience after a careful scrutiny of some of the factors that have been synopsized for buying products of your choice.
What do you need?
Identifying your need determines the platform to visit as each one of them may be specializing in their own strengths due to bulk discounts. Hence,the product prices differ from one site to another. While buying a book, it’s always good to opt for Kindle or paperback in order to save as the price becomes half.
Know your seller
Do not buy from an unknown seller. This is the most important note. Do a check on the agency that is selling the product and once proven to be authentic, then you may choose to proceed. In cases where even if there is slight doubt, it is key to check again and again before buyouts.
Compare & verify
Always compare the prices to retail. Too high prices or too low prices may have some hidden agenda. Either the prices have not been corrected at the backend when the prices tend to soar or could be the product has some catch eg the model is out of production. In some cases, the product shows a different pricing as you move to cart and the same does not reflect as you make the payment towards the same. It is key to check the price at the time of your payments in all online purchases.
If you are not sure of the condition of the product try using “Open box option” in front of the delivery boy so that you can check before accepting the parcel.
Reach, Convenience & Cost
In case of a known and genuine ongoing discount, it may be a good idea to do your shopping that time. For any heavy products, ensure they are delivered to your doorsteps. Be watchful of the authenticity of the sale. Do not get lured by any fake or unverified advertisements.
Product information & details
Compare the products from various sellers and then decide. This is the best option available online. Online products offer more product information and a detailed catalogue to read. Compare and contrast the customer reviews given and if need be, you are even allowed to contact for more information. Unless you are completely satisfied, it is good to seek more information.
Image, color, and design
It is a good idea to read the disclaimers given online, stating that the product could be slightly different in color, image etc. In such cases, ask for more information like product catalogue. If possible, visit the store nearby to check the color, size or any other dimension details. It may be a good idea to check the price in the store as compared to online in few cases. This is, of course, subject to the availability of time and provided we do not shop in the last minute.
Credibility, voice of the customer, market speak
It is key to understand the customer service facility through timely delivery from not only the speed perspective but also a diligent service. Read the happenings of the online buy periodically to understand the financial worthiness and the customer focus they have to service their customers’ pipeline including their turnover, the big bang sale and the customer service during this time, the quantum of technology intervention that was planned and delivered for seamless customer delight. Are there basic facilities like chat, call centres etc in case of any queries.
When buying expensive items it is wise to read the customer review in their portal and understand information that may be useful in your decision-making process. Read the customer complaints zone carefully before you come to a decision. If unsure, always ask for “Cash on Delivery” option and never go in for any other mode of payment.
Platform & technology
Innovative and unique trading tools offer various e-pay channels including tie-up with various banks. In all payment gateways, it may be wise to enable pay through credit cards / Paytm than internet banking or debit card services. Thereby preventing the loss of cash resource liquidity. Here you must ask few questions to yourself: -
1. Do the online services give you the benefits of product tracking mechanism support and how effective is it?
2. Is the product info right wrt pricing updated real time?
3. Technology like Beacons enables a lot of customers’ preferences post the previous shopping experiences. Is the technology supporting your preferences? Is it able to meet your need?
4. Facial recognition technology helps to protect your personal data and also analyses your spend in various online shopping experiences. Both the banks as well as few applications enable this. Establish a strong data-based analysis on where and how much you spend periodically. You may want to see where your money spent is being utilized maximum.
5. Chatbots help you navigate to your interests. Wherever chatbots are available make use of them to ensure your buy is the best or if they have any other offering for you.
6. Smart mirrors are being enabled in many super speciality stores in the West. While few tech giants in e-commerce are identifying ways to bring this up in the virtual platform too, this is yet another boon. Through this feature, you can literally bring in a virtual changing room experience and check the clothes, accessories etc without changing. These enable you to share your images with your friends either on social media or on WhatsApp where your loved ones can give you their preferences and even before you make your decision to buy.
Gateway security factors
Most of the scams occur during the payment gateway zones. While it may show the images of the online buying brand, if you carefully examine the URL it may be different leading you to an illegal payment zone. Always keep watching your link on the bar… “Secure:https://……..” This indicates that the gateway is authentic. Never share personal information in the portal or over phone. Do not look at any advertisements that appear “Only for you 99% discount”. If you are not sure of any advertisements, do not click on them and move the emails to the spam folder. Phishing is another fraud done with malicious intent.
Keep checking for affiliate marketing gateways so that you can get a small portion as price back. These gateways get commissions from the e-commerce organizations and in turn share with their customers.
Service post sale
In case of refunds, check with the processing guideline in detail as to how the process would be initiated in case of product returns. Look at refunds. If you do not wish the possession, there must be a way in which the product could be either replaced or refunded completely. Check this. The recent heartburn in one of the online purchase that I had done was I only accumulated points that could be utilized for my future buy in the same portal thereby compelling me for future purchases from them. This was never stated anywhere at the time of my pay. Never add cash wallet unless it is paytm and not for any other reasons unless you have perpetual discounts or other benefits.
Take time to think
In case of deep desire to buy something expensive or even otherwise, it may be a wise idea to park that curiosity for a while. Any decision making at the high or low end of the emotions may not be correct and always true. There is an option. Keep it in the cart for a while. Keep saving for “Wish List”. Keep checking if the price is constant or if the price is dropping. Check if the product is offering any coupon discount or any bid. If you are not in calm mind, ask yourself if you should park the decision. There is yet another option to ask for notification. Ask for not only product notification upon their availability but also for notifications that fetch data pertaining to the price drop.
It is your hard earned money and has every right to make your choice perfect. During your next time, you wish to go online buy, maybe think of some of the above points.