This post is for everyone who needs to know the nitty gritty of how to shop online… Our guest contributor shared some amazing insights on how to have a great online shopping experience. Don’t forget to read and share your thoughts with us via the comment section. Enjoy…
Online shopping is just like taking the lift instead of the stairs; It’s faster, convenient and secure. From second hand sunglasses to plane tickets, I bet you there’s a website that sells exactly what you’re looking for. Online shopping has become so popular in the past decade that it is starting to replace good old ‘actual shopping’.
I have compiled a step to step guide on how to shop online and tips to make your online shopping experience a good one. But before then, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
- Is it safe to shop online?
Yes it is safe to shop online as long as you play by the rules(more about this below)
- How do I know if a website is safe?
The first thing to look out for in a sites URL is the “secure sockets layer” or SSL. Sites that have this layer would appear as ‘https ‘ instead of ‘http’. Never shop on a website that does not have this secure sockets layer! A closed padlock icon should also appear beside the sites URL.
3. Can I shop online with cash?
Yes it is possible to shop online without using your credit or debit card. You simply opt for the ‘pay on delivery ‘ option. But this is different for every website and comes with terms and conditions.
- How long does delivery take?
Delivery is different for every website and it typically depends on whether the retailer is local or international. It ranges as far as 2 days to 2 months. Ensure you check the delivery time on an item before purchasing.
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HOW TO SHOP ONLINE
Step 1: Find Your Product
There are 2 ways to find the product you are looking for
- Google Search:
This is the oldest method in the books. Simply type in the name of your product a search engine like google and click ‘search’. For example if you search the product “washing machine”, google will bring out the sites that have this product for sale. You can then click on whichever site you would like to make the purchase from.
- Go To A Product Specific Website:
It is so much easier to just go to a product specific website like www.slot.ng to find a phone that I’m interested in buying since slot is known for the sale of mobile gadgets. Or better still, you can go to a site that sells a wide variety of products including that which you want to purchase. Simply look for the search icon on the site and input the product you’re looking for eg ‘Samsung tablet’s or ‘HP laptop’ and the site would bring out all the items that are listed with that tag.
Step 2: Examine Your Products
Few months ago, I bought a portable sewing machine from jumia.com. It came at a good discount and got delivered to me in about 5 working days. There was one problem however, it was smaller than I expected. Heck! It was dwarfish! I was dissapointed. So I went back to the website and this time around, I carefully read through the description. Turns out, the dimensions of the machine was listed out and somewhere in the review, a person stated “Smaller than I expected but excellent “. Who else thinks I should have examined my product carefully before making my purchase? You do? Excellent.
After finding your product on the website, click on it to examine it’s features. The features included typically depends on the kind of product it is but would generally include color, size, dimensions and many others. The number of purchases made would also be listed as well as ratings and reviews. If and only if you’re satisfied with the description should you proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Place the product in your shopping cart
Thanks to the ‘shopping cart fairy’, most online shopping websites magically hand you a shopping cart once you’re on the site. When you select your item, you would see an option that reads “add to shopping cart”. Once you click on it, your item would be added to the e-cart. Now, if you want to make other purchases, return back to the home page and repeat the same process for the other items. If that is the only product you would like to purchase then move to step 4
Step 4: Proceed to Checkout
This is the internet version of “the counter”. But instead of handing out cash or cards to over-zealous cashiers, you would be handing out information. Most websites would allow you check out as a ‘guest’ but would also request that you create an account. It is advisable to create an account so you’d have your information stored in case of subsequent purchases, making it easier and faster. Isn’t that the whole point of online shopping?
They would like to know where to ship your product to, ensure you enter the correct address. Next, they would like to know your preferred method of payment .(Most Nigerian sites offer a “pay on delivery ” service but is typically for purchases above a certain price limit). Otherwise, you could pay with a debit or credit card.
You would be given a chance to review your product before the final transaction. This is to ensure that it is exactly what you want. Thereafter, input your card details and follow any other instructions carefully.
Step 5: Confirmation
You should receive a confirmation email from the website immediately after your purchase and another email when your product is shipped. After your product has been shipped, you would be contacted by the delivery agency and a date for your ‘pickup’ would be scheduled
Tips for a happy online shopping experience
- Use Familiar Websites
This is perhaps the most important tip in avoiding a scam. Stick to the familiar websites when purchasing items online because you’re guaranteed that it’s not a scam. Come on, Amazon is not about to raid your bank account!
- Never Give Too Much Information
Wouldn’t it be weird if Jumia.com started requesting for your date of birth and the name of your favorite relative? When shopping online, be sure the information you’re giving out is strictly related to the business transaction; most times you will be asked to provide the number on your debit card and it’s expiration date. Any more details should raise a red flag.
- Trust Your Gut
Recently my friend clicked on a website that promised free iPhones. Anything “free” should raise a red flag so huge, it might as well be China.
While narrating the incident to me, she said “my mind was telling me that it was a scam but I still gave all the details they asked for”. Long story short, she had to render that account obsolete. If your ‘mind is telling you’ that a certain deal is too good to be true, it’s most likely right. My rule is, if I have to question whether the deal is real or fake, I won’t buy it.
- Create Strong passwords.
I can’t emphasize this enough. As you shop online, you would be asked to create new accounts. It is important to create uncrackable passwords for the safety of your account. Strong passwords usually contain uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters and even with that, “Ada.1995” is not exactly a strong password.
- Use your own device.
Don’t go online shopping in a cyber cafe if you can help it. And if you can’t, ensure that you log out completely after the transaction. It’s best you use your own laptop or smart phone and even at that, protect vital information especially when in public. It’s like using an ATM, you definitely don’t want the whole queue staring at your password and account balance; guard your online shopping details with the same alacrity.
- Sign Up For Newsletters.
I know I know. It can be frustrating when sites ask you to create an account or sign up for newsletters but that 30 seconds is so worth it! In creating an account and signing up for newsletters, you would get regular emails from the website and would be among the first to know of a promo or discount sale. It’s a great way to save money while shopping online.
- Use The App
Nothing beats convenience like a good app on your phone. If you have a trusted website where you regularly do your shopping, simply download the application on your phone. That way, you don’t have to surf the net everytime you want to purchase something, you simply log in through the application. You’re welcome.
Have you ever engaged in online shopping? Tell me about your experience in the comments below. If you’ve never tried it before, would you be willing to give it a try?