Online shopping used to be an option of convenience. But today, as we adapt to social distancing and other precautionary measures, it has become the safer option as well.
Unfortunately, it’s not as safe as you might think. Although it reduces the spread of COVID-19, there are many ways in which online shopping puts your finances and your personal information at risk.
But don’t worry. We’ve written you a guide to help you avoid the dangers of online shopping.
Here, we describe the most common mistakes online shoppers make. And, more importantly, we’ll tell you what you can do differently. For a safer online shopping experience, read and follow these tips.
For years, we’ve been conditioned to do all our shopping in one store, or as few stores as possible. It’s easier plus it saves time and gas. These factors make one-stop-shopping worth it, even if you end up paying a little more on your grocery bill.
Online shopping, however, is completely different. It takes little time to compare prices on different websites. And you don’t have to worry about gas at all.
What you should worry about is getting the best deal (from a trustworthy vendor). And yet, many of us still heed our conditioned impulse to one-stop-shop.
For example, if your go-to brick-and-mortar store is Walmart, you’re probably inclined to do your online shopping at Walmart.com. Then, just as you accept their in-store prices without comparison, you buy the items you need from Walmart.com without checking elsewhere.
Truly, though, it’s very quick and easy to compare prices online. And, if you don’t, you might end up paying an inflated price for no reason.
2. Letting Online Stores Remember Your Information
As we said, most of us have increased our online shopping activity. Thus, we know what a pain it is to re-enter your information every time you check out. That’s especially true when you do most of your online shopping at only one or two different sites, right?
Actually, this type of thinking is very wrong. First and foremost, accounts get hacked all the time.
In fact, it’s happened to most of us at least once. And one time is all it takes for a perpetrator to obtain any and all information you have saved in that account. Plus, the more accounts you have, and the more info you give them, the more you put yourself at risk.
It’s Not That Convenient, Anyway
It may seem convenient to keep your payment info on file with your preferred vendors. But having your identity stolen and your credit card used fraudulently would be rather inconvenient, wouldn’t you say?
Besides, you’re already saving time by not driving to the store and not waiting in the checkout line. So, spending 30 seconds to type in your credit card number every time you check out is not that big of a deal.
We strongly suggest removing your information from your online store accounts and even deleting accounts you don’t need. If you need help, you can find tutorials, like this guide: How to Delete Amazon Account – Setapp.
3. Paying Full Price
With online coupons, there’s no clipping involved and no impatient customers behind you, glaring at you as you hold up the line. Thus, there’s absolutely no reason not to use online coupons.
Every time you check out, take a few moments to search for online coupon codes at one of those coupon websites. It may take a few tries since some of the codes could be invalid.
But, most of the time, you’ll find one that works within a couple of minutes. It’s definitely worth it to spend two minutes to save two or three dollars off of every online purchase you make.
4. Shipping Tricks
When comparing deals, always take the shipping cost into account. The site with the lower price may have a higher shipping cost.
In this situation, it might actually be worth it to do one-stop shopping. That is, most online stores offer free shipping if the order is large enough.
But beware. This incentive can save you money when it nixes the shipping cost on items you were already planning to buy. On the other hand, it could also tempt you into buying items you don’t need, just to qualify for free shipping.
The best way to avoid either of these mistakes is by shopping sporadically. Plan your online shopping ahead of time, just as you’d plan a trip to a physical store.
Wait to shop until you have a large list of items that you need. That way, you should qualify for free shipping no matter where you shop.
5. Being Oblivious to the Return Policy
Most of us are used to stores being very lenient about returns. It’s become a hallmark of good customer service.
This idea doesn’t necessarily apply to online shopping. By definition, brick-and-mortar vs online stores are vastly different, even if they belong to the same company.
From start to finish, the way you shop, pay, and receive items online is totally different than how you do it in-store. So, obviously, returns won’t be handled the same way, either.
Besides that, COVID-19 has radically changed the policies of every company. In particular, most stores have greatly restricted their return policies.
So, while it’s easier than ever to buy online, it’s more difficult to return your purchases. Always check out the return policy before you get stuck with unwanted items.
6. Ordering From Questionable Websites
Lastly, never order from a site you don’t know. We know it’s important to support small businesses rather than giving the top brands an unfair advantage. But, sadly, you just can’t trust online vendors you’ve never heard of.
It’s much easier to scam customers from an online store than from a physical location. Thus, you’re safer shopping with brands you know.
Still, there are ways to support small online businesses while staying safe. The easiest is to shop the official sites of small businesses in your local area. Or, you can check online reviews, scam-busting sites, and the Better Business Bureau before you buy.
Avoid These Online Shopping Mistakes
Knowledge is power. So, now that you’re in the know, you don’t have to fall for these online shopping pitfalls anymore. Use the tips in this guide to avoid these common mistakes.
These tips aren’t the only way to be careful with your money. We have lots of other financial advice that can help you out, too. Check out our Finance blog for additional tips on shopping, saving money, organizing bills, and more.