What Should I Know About Shopping Online?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2019
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Shopping online can be a great way to locate hard to find items, to use intensive price comparison to get great deals, and it can be as safe as shopping locally. There are some noted pitfalls to shopping online and these include inability to return items immediately, and the lack of “touchability” of items. Shoppers can’t really feel the quality of material in a coat or determine if a toy looks well constructed from an online picture. There are other concerns with Internet shopping and other advantages, though these depend on perspective.

Probably the greatest concern about shopping online is security and privacy. No one wants to have their personal information stolen or used, and there are a few ways to minimize this risk. Be aware that shopping in stores doesn’t completely eliminate risk either. It is just as easy for an employee to steal information like routing and bank account numbers off of checks or take credit card information and use it. This occurs on some very well known Internet sites also. The point is, most people want this matter addressed swiftly if they note unusual activity on bank accounts or credit cards, and more reputable stores will usually act quickly to help.


For the most security, organizations like the American Bar Association recommend using credit cards that will not hold customers responsible for charges they didn’t make. This is considered more secure than paying with a bank account. The ABA also advises people to use secure Internet connections with safety software, to be suspicious of prices that are too low and “too good to be true,” and to use shopping sites that have a proven record of security.

Sometimes personal information isn’t used fraudulently, but it still may be used in various annoying ways. To protect privacy, read the details of each shopping site’s privacy policy. If the site can use a phone number, address or email address and sell them to other advertisers, customers may want to look elsewhere to make their purchases.

Once people feel they’ve found secure and private shopping sites and have a secure payment method, the many benefits of online shopping are sure to appeal. Chief among these is ability to compare prices, but price comparison should always include consideration of a few other things. For instance, most people should check shipping charges at different locations to see if this changes price values.

Another thing to look at is return policy on any new or used items. Since it can be difficult to determine for certain if the thing online is the quality a person wants, vendors that have generous return policies are usually preferred. Moreover, calculate any return shipping costs too; some stores do offer free return shipping.

People may notice that stores sometimes offer bonus codes that will reduce price. It is possible to search these codes in other locations. If shopping online at Sephora® for instance, shoppers can find codes on other websites that can be used with Sephora purchases. Sometimes sites and codes are old and don’t work anymore. Subscribing to the store’s newsletters is another way to get good deals, though it does mean putting up with a certain amount of extra email and possibly snail mail too.

It isn’t necessary to buy anything when shopping online, and those who love the Internet can spend hours “window shopping.” This may perhaps be the most comfortable window shopping experience ever invented, since it can be done from the privacy of home, while people are weary their comfy clothes, even pajamas and slippers. As attractive as the Internet is for shopping, take a break occasionally. Long periods of sitting at a computer can strain the eyes and are usually not good for the back or neck.



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