Get a Better Shopping Experience by Being a Better Customer – 5 Online Shopping Tips

Want a better shopping experience online? Become a better customer! The speed, accuracy, and security of ecommerce websites are improving with each passing year, but they’re not always perfect, and they’re never going to be. What you may not realize is that many of the most common online shopping complaints aren’t the retailer’s fault at all. Yes, sometimes the blame is yours. You can avoid these problems by following these five online shopping tips that will make your shopping experience better and ensure that you get the best customer service every time you click that “add to cart” button.

PS: Although these tips are intended for online shoppers, many of the same rules apply to good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores as well. Keep them in mind the next time you head out to the mall!

Tip 1: Ask Yourself, “Is the Customer Always Right?”

We’ve been hearing it for over a century and seeing it in countless advertisements: “The customer is always right.” If you’ve ever owned a business or worked in retail, then you’ve likely heard this line more than a few times in your experience. Many of us have even dropped this one a few times ourselves when we’ve been frustrated over a misunderstanding or a bad purchase. It’s the mantra of disgruntled customers everywhere; the ultimate slogan designed to crush any disagreement and to get you what you want, on your terms.

But is it true? Is the customer always right? Deep down we all know the answer is absolutely not. Any transaction is a two-way street, and the customer is just as capable of being mistaken or wrong as the person on the other side of the counter (or the person at the other end of the website). While it is true that every customer should be treated with respect, sometimes what you want simply isn’t possible.

• It is more effective to always keep an open mind than to always be right.

What does this have to do with improving your shopping experience? When you go into a transaction with the mindset that you are always right no matter what, you’re completely shutting yourself off to the other half of the conversation. Remember, a good retailer wants your business and is going to try to find a solution to your problem whether you demand to be right or not. Taking a combative stance the moment something goes wrong with your purchase or order increases the chance you’ll miss out on a perfectly good solution or compromise. Instead of coming to a fair agreement, you’re left with nothing — and chances are the person you talked to is now just as irritated as you.

But what if it turns out that you actually are right and the business you’re working with is at fault? You can still help fix the issue faster and easier by keeping an open mind and practicing common courtesy.

John Depane, a human resources and business consultant, describes this mindset simply, “Always be nice, until it’s time not to be. Instead of viewing the problem as a fight you must win, treat it as a challenge to be solved with a common goal: your satisfaction. A willingness to listen can take you a long way.”

• A confrontational attitude can make it harder to get what you want.

In fact, not listening only makes it more difficult for the retailer to get you what you want. Cathy Ward, owner of ecommerce wedding accessories company, explains, “We’d be out of business if we didn’t strive to make our customers happy, but sometimes when a customer refuses to listen it can be hard to figure out what he or she really needs.” She adds, “Making everyone happy is easier when people take responsibility for their own behavior and actions, on both sides of the equation.”

Bob Bryant, a merchant services specialist, agrees. “Being cool and calm always gets you better treatment and better results than being aggressive or threatening if you’re dissatisfied.”

Tip 2: Don’t Take Your Bad Experiences with You Elsewhere

Even less helpful than assuming that as a customer you are always right is venting your frustration with one business on a completely different one. Yes, all of us have had the misfortune of the occasional bad shopping experience, and sometimes there’s nothing more aggravating than a rude employee or a confused customer service representative. Unlike the old saying, however, one bad apple does not spoil the bunch.

• Focus on what the new business can do to help you, not what the last business didn’t do.

Treating a business like an enemy from the very start will not get you faster or better customer service; it will not get you a better price; it will not get you a better shopping experience. In fact, with this kind of attitude you’re very likely to create a problem before there even is one.

Even so, many retailers still frequently hear angry customer complaints like, “The last place I went to screwed up my order. I want things done right this time!”

The only thing you accomplish with this kind of statement is to set the other person on edge, which actually increases the likelihood they’ll make a mistake. Remember, the whole reason you’re visiting this different business is because you weren’t happy with how you were treated at the last one. If you really need to let someone know about your displeasure or feel you deserve some kind of special treatment for a bad experience, take it up with the company that is at fault, not someone else.

Instead of bringing your old problems with you, let yourself move on and give the staff of the new business a chance to outshine your bad experience. No matter how unpleasant things were at that other place, you will find a business that will make you happy, if you let them.

Tip 3: Don’t Abuse the Store’s Returns Policy

There’s a common perception that all retailers are huge mega-businesses with limitless resources, so you should be able to return anything for any reason. After all, it isn’t really hurting anyone and these big shot companies can afford it, right?

The vast majority of online businesses are not, in fact, big companies like Wal-Mart and Target. Very often they are small independent operations that are struggling to compete against bigger businesses while staying afloat in a tough economy. One of the great challenges these small businesses face is in the world of returns. Returns cost a tremendous amount of time and money — the merchant has to process the return with your order, inspect and restock the item if you sent it back, and pay credit card processing fees for the original purchase and the refund, if there is one.

• There is no such thing as “friendly” or “harmless” fraud.

While you should never have to accept an item that’s faulty, broken, or not what you ordered, lately there’s been a tendency for some customers to exploit a business’s returns policy for maximum advantage. Abusing the returns policy and other forms of so-called “friendly fraud” can cripple that company’s ability to help other customers and ultimately you. So, before you decide to send it back, keep the following in mind:

• Don’t return an item to one store that was purchased somewhere else.

It sounds like common sense, but this happens more often than you think. When you return something to a store other than where it was purchased, you are basically trying to force that company to buy stock that they may not necessarily need or want. Keep your receipts and remember where you made your purchases. If there’s a problem, don’t involve another store.

• Don’t expect a retailer to pay return shipping because you don’t like what you bought.

Sometimes we all experience buyer’s remorse, but unless there’s something physically wrong with the item, it’s not the retailer’s fault. Once you buy something, it’s yours, and retailers who allow these kinds of returns are actually doing you a favor.

If you don’t want your purchase and the online retailer is allowing you to send it back, great, but don’t demand they pay charges for the return shipping. When you do, you are forcing a business to absorb a loss on something they made no income from for a bad decision you made.

• Don’t buy an item, use it, and then return it because you don’t need it anymore.

Popular culture has almost turned this practice into an act of heroism — many of us have heard some inspiring story or another where some impoverished job-seeker wears a new suit to an interview, hides the tags, and then returns it to the store the next day. But, in most cases, the people who use this technique simply don’t want to pay for something they won’t need that often.

“More than once someone has ordered a cake topper and sent it back saying it wasn’t what they wanted or they didn’t get it in time for their wedding, but when we opened the box there was cake icing on it,” Ward says. “This isn’t harmless; these kinds of things put a big financial burden on small businesses.”

Retailers are not in business to loan you their inventory. If you buy something, use it without any problems, but then don’t want it anymore, find a different way to get rid of it. Donate it to a charity or set it out at your next yard sale, but don’t send it back to the merchant expecting a refund.

Tip 4: Don’t Be Stingy with Your Information

In today’s era of identity theft, junk mail, spam, and telemarketers, protecting your identity and your privacy has never been more important. It’s understandable that you want to make as little of your personal information available to the public as possible. But, when you withhold information like your email address or phone number from an online retailer, it makes it much more difficult for the merchant to follow-up on your order.

• Providing contact information improves customer service and can speed up your order.

Remember, every purchase you make online involves a certain amount of trust. Kevin Begola, owner of an ecommerce jewelry website, explains, “Our products have a lot of customization options, and sometimes we need to follow-up with our customers to ensure everything is perfect. When a customer refuses to provide a phone number or email address, it makes it harder to get in touch with them if we need to. This is usually the number one factor for an order delay.”

Most online merchants will not start sending you spam or calling you twenty times a day the moment they have your phone number or email address, but they will be able to contact you quickly to resolve any issues that may arise.

If you’re concerned about what a business is going to do with your personal information, check the merchant’s privacy policy posted on their website, or ask how they will use or store anything you provide them. If you’re still not comfortable, you can shop somewhere else.

• If you need to contact a merchant about a purchase, let them know who you are.

Also, if you are going to write a merchant with a question about your order, don’t make them guess your identity. Some merchants process dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of orders per day — a simple “where’s my order” email with no other information forces the retailer to play detective and will delay their response.

Anytime you contact a merchant about a purchase you made, be sure to provide your name, order number or confirmation number, and describe what you ordered and when. Also provide any contact information the merchant might need, such as a work number or cell phone number. This will guarantee a faster response to your questions.

Tip 5: Understand How Shipping Works

The number one complaint about online shopping has, and likely always will be, issues that arise from shipping. Shipping items today is faster and more reliable than ever, but it still takes time and mistakes can and do happen. Fortunately, if you understand a little about how shipping works and follow these additional online shopping tips, you can help ensure your purchases arrive on time, every time.

• Check to see how your item is being shipped.

If the merchant uses a private company such as UPS, or if you request that an item be shipped that way, remember that these services cannot deliver packages to a PO Box. You will need to provide your actual home address.

Many online merchants, furthermore, will provide UPS or FedEx tracking information that will enable you to follow your package while it is in transit. Use this information to keep an eye on your package and to be appraised of when it’s going to arrive — doing this yourself is far easier and faster than writing the merchant and demanding to know where your order is.

• Ship the item to a location where you or someone else will be available to receive it.

Some types of shipping and some shipping services require that someone be physically present to sign for a package at the time it is delivered. If no one is going to be available at your home to receive the package, consider having it sent to another location, such as the home of a friend or relative, or the place where you work.

• Check then double check the accuracy of your shipping address.

Don’t automatically blame the merchant if your package is returned or delivered to the wrong address. Most of the time the problem is a detail like a wrong house number or misspelled street name entered by the customer.

• Remember that the shipping time does not include processing time.

Once you’ve purchased an item from a website, it does not immediately box itself and jump into the arms of a waiting truck driver. Someone has to first process your credit card information, pull the item or items from their inventory, package them, and prepare them for shipping.

While this process is usually fairly quick, it’s not instantaneous, and some purchases will take longer to process than others. Also, orders placed late in the day or in the evening won’t likely be processed until the following day.

• Learn to count shipping days.

The time it takes for an order to ship only starts the day after the package has left the facility where it was stored and is on its way to you. This means that if you request 3-day delivery on an order that’s shipped on Monday, it will not arrive until Thursday. Or, if you place an order in the evening on Tuesday but request Next Day Air, it will also arrive on Thursday, not Wednesday.

• Shipping days do not count weekends and holidays.

Yes, we’re all used to receiving mail on Saturdays, but shipping services like UPS do not make standard deliveries on Saturday, and no one delivers on Sunday or holidays.

For example: Suppose it’s Thursday at 8 PM and you find a cool toy you want to get for your nephew’s birthday this weekend. You count Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — three days — so you choose 3-day delivery. However, the merchant likely won’t even see your order until the start of business hours on Friday. He or she may package the item that same day, but remember the shipping time only starts after the item has left, and UPS won’t ship on the weekend. So, even with 3-day-delivery your package won’t actually arrive until the following Wednesday.

• If time is a factor, account for the nature of the purchase and the possibility of delays.

Sure, some items you purchase online may only need a mailing label slapped on the boxes and they’re ready to go, but others are going to take time. If you’re ordering something that’s being engraved, personalized, or custom made, then you’ll usually want to add at least a few days to the amount of time it will take to process your order — and even longer for some items. Remember, someone, probably a skilled artisan, is going to have to sit down and actually make your item — there is simply no possible way it can ship immediately.

There are also other issues outside of anyone’s control that can potentially delay your package. The number of other orders placed before yours, distance between you and the shipping facility, severe weather, even accidents can be a factor in the amount of time it takes to receive your purchase.

“We work with brides every day, so we understand that time can be an issue,” Ward says. “We pride ourselves on not missing wedding dates, and we get all our orders out as fast as possible, but things like engraving are always going to add to the time it takes to process an order.”

If time is a factor, finish your online shopping well in advance of the date that you need something. If, for whatever reason, you still need to order an item at the last minute, then work with the merchant to see what you can do to rush your package and receive it as quickly as possible. Don’t demand miracles, and don’t blame the merchant for your time constraints.

• Once you receive your package, check the entire box.

Many packages arrive stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts and other packing material. If you open the box but don’t immediately see what you ordered, take a deep breath and check the inside of the box more thoroughly. Empty out all of those peanuts if you have to — more often than not you just missed the item the first time. Make sure you’re absolutely certain that your item hasn’t arrived before contacting the merchant.

Being a Better Customer Will Always Get You a Better Shopping Experience

Just as all of us are looking for businesses we can trust and enjoy dealing with, businesses are always hoping for great customers — serving those people is very often what inspired the owner to start their company in the first place.

“It’s such a pleasure when a customer becomes an active participant,” Bob Bryant says. “It’s truly rewarding when they understand all aspects of the transaction and start working with you.”

“We get really excited when the customer is excited,” Ward adds. “Sharing in the enthusiasm of a friendly, understanding customer helps us work better.”

When you keep an open mind, work with instead of against the merchant, be honest and open in your transactions, and understand a little of what goes into your order, businesses will go out of their way to keep you satisfied. All you need is a healthy attitude and a bit of patience and online shopping will be as convenient, as fast, and as fun as it was meant to be. Good luck and happy shopping!

Five Easy To Follow Online Shopping Tips

While earlier the internet only connected people, today it has created a boom by connecting businesses. The internet today has come out as a new medium for shopping. Online shopping has grown enormously popular and is one of the fastest growing businesses across the globe. Shopping today has surpassed the boundaries of visiting malls, shopping outlets and stores. Online shopping has changed the old-fashioned ways of shopping. Everyone, be it the men or the women, younger generation or the older, all are going online and shopping. Today a lot of companies are creating online stores and hence creating their social presence. There are stores to cater both to the needs of sellers and buyers.

No matter, what kind of products you are looking for, you can find almost everything on the internet. Online shopping provides you with the convenience of shopping 24/7 without actually moving around. It provides you with the ease of having all the products under one roof. The product range in online shopping is mind boggling. There are huge bargain offers and the shipping of the product is really fast. You can have the product at your doorstep without actually moving out of your home.

Online shopping today has become more of a routine rather than a hobby. Billions of people today shop online.The combination of speed, convenience, diverse range of products, good deals on the product and the option of sending the product back if unsatisfied has made us addicted to online shopping. It has become so rampant also because people are saved from the pain of standing in long queues at the cash counter. But we must also remember to be careful while shopping online. You not only need your credit card but also a little awareness while shopping online. Here are five easy to follow online shopping tips:

Tip 1: Always shop from trusted websites
Always look for trusted, well known and respectable online retailers. With many E-shopping portals coming up, you need to be extra careful while shopping. Websites that are certified by Internet Trust Organizations such as ‘BB online’, must be preferred since they protect your privacy. Beware of misspellings and resist the temptation of the enticing sales.

Tip 2: Identify a secure web transaction
Never, ever buy anything from a website that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. One way to know whether the site has SSL is to confirm that the site starts from HTTPS://, instead of just an HTTP. Also a padlock symbol appears on the URL in the address bar.

Tip 3: keep it a secret
Always keep your personal details a secret. Never shell out details about your credit card or any other bank details unless absolute necessary. Be careful when it comes to entering personal information. Giving away too much information can give the hackers the required edge.

Tip 4: Be careful while using network
If you are thinking of using a public terminal to shop online, think again. If you still want to go ahead with the public terminals, remember to log out every time. Even if you are doing something as simple as checking a mail, be attentive. Also always use trusted Wi-Fi connection or better a privatized one. Also inoculate your computer with antivirus software.

Tip 5: keep checking statements
Never wait for the month end to go and check your bank statements. Go regularly to check your statements i.e. your credit, debit statements. Keep checking your online shopping receipts via mail. Keep a check for any sort of changes in the statement. If you find anything inappropriate address the issue immediately.

Applying these small tactics will save you from being a target of a cyber fraud.

Go connected, go shopping…

Smart Online Shopping Tips

Convenience and speed are among the greatest benefits the Internet has bestowed upon us and both these attributes are best demonstrated when we shop online.

When compared to a brick-and-mortar experience, online shopping has numerous advantages. It helps you avoid the hassle of looking for parking; it saves you the trouble of walking down seemingly endless shopping aisles as you search for items; it helps you save time because you don’t have to travel to the mall; and it helps you skip the long queues at the checkout counter! In addition to this, online shopping gives you access to global premium brands, which may not be available locally, and often entitles you to better deals, bigger discounts and more reward points, which you can redeem for free purchases later on.

So what do you need to shop online? Just a credit card! Your credit card empowers to you to shop from anywhere 24 X 7 through online shopping. Credit card companies such as HDFC, ICICI, Kotak (and even issuers such as VIsa & MasterCard) often have special deals for online purchases. For instance HDFC currently running a program where their members get up to 5 times the points on online purchases. Such offers encourage people to do more of online shopping as there is a sense of gratification for the customer in terms of gifts he can get. However, when buying off the Internet, always ensure that your online purchases are safe. Here are some online shopping tips that will help:

o Always verify that the URL of the website is correct by checking it in the address bar of the Internet browser. This will protect you against phishing.
o Only shop from trusted, well-established and reputed websites.
o Never type sensitive information such as your credit card number, CVV etc. in pop-up windows.
o Sign up for services like ‘Verified by Visa’ or ‘Master Card Secure Code’ before shopping online with your credit card for a safer shopping experience.
o The URL of the webpage where you enter your credit card details should start with ‘https’ and not ‘http’. This indicates it is a secure website.
o Jot down relevant transaction IDs or take printouts of the purchase confirmation screen for future reference.
o Check to see that the webpage you are on has a closed padlock or a key icon on it before entering sensitive information.

As you can see, online shopping is a great way to carry out your purchases from the comfort of your own home. However, to ensure that you always have a pleasant and safe shopping experience, make sure that you keep these simple and handy tips in mind before packing those virtual shopping carts! Happy shopping

Online Shopping Tips

Do you want to buy a book? Are you looking for home appliances? No matter what you may want, you can get it online; thanks to the internet that has made it all possible. Unlike the past you do not have to roam around different malls looking for something that you want. Sitting in the comfort of your own place, you can check out thousands of products and buy whatever you want without having to worry about a thing. But you need to be careful and smart when you shop over the internet. Here are some online shopping tips that can help you make the best purchases:

To buy something online, you can start by searching for what you want in the search engines. You can use one of your favorite search engines and look for the websites that offer the product you want. Make sure to use the right keywords. For example, if you want to by a cheap laptop you should use the same keyword “cheap laptops”. Also, you can use relevant keywords like “affordable laptops”, “discount laptop” etc.

Once you get the results, you can start looking to see if the products are from reliable website. Make sure you look for them on sites that are reputable and reliable so that you can get a quality product and service.

Make sure you read the policies of the websites from where you want to shop. Check out all the details so that you may know if a certain product is worth buying.

When you are sure that you want to purchase something, you will need to have a credit card to make the payment online. A PayPal account or a bank account may also be used to shop online.

You must only shop from sites that are trusted so that you can remain safe from online scams.

Before picking a product, make sure you do enough search and explore all your options so that you can buy the best product.

Always compare between different options as it will help you choose the best product in terms of quality, features and price.

You must also check the security protection section. It is also vital to check if a site is certified for safety.

These simple online shopping tips will help you purchase the best products and remain safe from scams. So make sure you follow these pointers when you have to buy anything online.

5 Online Shopping Tips for Christmas

Shopping online for Christmas gifts is more popular now than ever before. Many people are turning to online shopping for its benefits. The local stores can be so crowed during the holidays that it makes shopping a dreaded chore instead of something you can enjoy. Many people prefer to avoid the hassles of driving through heavy traffic and then waiting in long lines to check out. Others simply enjoy the large selection of items found on the Internet, many of which you can’t find in local stores.

Online shopping is fast, convenient and you can find many excellent deals on the Internet but there are a few things that you should be aware of before you buy online. Here are 5 online shopping tips for Christmas that will make this holiday more enjoyable and less stressful:

1. Choose Your Website Wisely- Not all Internet sites are equal. Some of them are not trustworthy. Before you shop, make sure you’re using a secured site, check reviews and use good judgment. If you have doubts about any of the sites you find, do some investigating before using them. It’s best not to take chances.

2. Shop Early- You must allow for shipping and handling time when buying online. Even though many items can be purchased and received within a week, this is not always the case. Sometimes mail gets delayed or the item may be temporally out of stock. Buying early ensures you have the gifts you ordered in time for the holidays.

3. Make a List- By making a shopping list it will help ensure that you don’t forget anyone. You can cross off the names as you find the perfect gift. This way, you won’t have to make any last minute runs to the store to try and find something for someone you missed.

4. Look for Deals- One of the great things about shopping online is that you can compare prices easily. Shop around at different sites and compare the items that you’re interested in and the promotions offered by the stores. Some online stores will offer you free shipping if you spend over a certain amount and others will offer lower prices for the same quality item.

5. Set a Budget- Since online shopping can be more relaxing and even a bit fun, it can be very easy to get carried away and buy more than you planned to for the holidays. Set a budget in advance and stick to it so you don’t have to deal with overspending when the New Year rolls around.

By following the tips above you can avoid the holiday crowds and still buy something special for everyone on your shopping list. It’s always a good idea to monitor your credit card activity but it’s even more important during the holiday season and when shopping online. By keeping a check on your cards you can help reduce the risks of identity theft and fraud by picking up on any unauthorized activity when it first occurs.

It’s also recommended that you use one card to do all of your shopping and this will make it much easier to track fraudulent activity if and when it does occur. Shopping online for Christmas can help make this holiday season more enjoyable as long as you follow the few simple tips above. Have a great holiday!