Global shopping is now at the mercy of anyone armed with a computer and credit cards. That is all you will need to buy anything from electronics to fashion, food to fragrances, holidays to music and anything and everything else in between.
Wherever you are in the world, the internet has significantly bridged the gap between international consumers and the high street, designer luxury and sole traders. You won’t be surprised to learn that E-bay and Amazon.com are two of the largest online retailing corporations – both based in America.
So how is a worldwide audience influenced to purchase online? Consumer needs and expectation alongside convenience are at the top of the list. Generally speaking we all relate more to a caring/understanding person. The technical science is the same – understanding the needs and wants of a customer and managing their expectations gives them every reason to come back to you. For example if you are considering buying a cookery book on easy recipes for busy people you would be more tempted if you had the option of reading the preface, scanning a few pages, reading more information about other books by the author or even watch a quick-time video – all at the click on a button. Any of these added values bring the customer one step closer to purchasing.
So what about convenience? The 24/7 convenience store facilitates the internet whether you’re at home, work or an internet café in the same shopping experience but without you literally trawling the shops. Another great convenience for online shopping is the ability to read other people’s reviews ranging from experts to ‘joe bloggs’ as well as the extended web social networks of twitter, face-book, instagram, pinterest – all of which spread the word, message and picture without letup.
According to IMRG Interactive Media in Retail Group – the voice of e-retail:
- £77bn –estimated value of the UK online retail market in 2012
- 20% – percentage of UK online sales that will be made through mobile devices (including tablets) by the end of 2012
- €825bn –estimated value of the global B2C e-commerce market in 2012
- 80% – percentage of smart-phone and tablet owners who use their devices while watching TV
- £851m – annual cost of failed UK online deliveries
There’s no question that online shopping is not only smart, but simple with a plethora of shops and services accepting payment at the click. But the impact to the consumer warrants caution. Here are 10 top tips to safe shopping:
- Avoid buying from sites that do not have a secure server to encrypt your credit card details – look out for the padlock sign
- Don’t give out personal information
- Make payments via PayPal or a credit card as they offer more protection
- Make sure you have up-to-date antivirus protection
- Spend time shopping around – don’t buy from websites that do not have contact details or only has a PO box
- Check comparison sites and read third party reviews on products and services before buying
- Print out either your confirmation page or email whenever you place an order
- Check credit card statements often
- Don’t forget to logout of sites into which you have logged in or registered details
- Know your rights – you are entitled to cancel, refund or return defective or misrepresented products
So whether you’re shopping for international holidays, luxury fashion products, health & fitness services, the world, as they say, is your oyster. If you have the technology and ability, the freedom to shop is yours! Here are a few of my favourites:
More about the author
Lorna Hunte is a freelance lifestyle writer/blogger who is married with one child. She strongly believes that knowledge is power across all cultures and enjoys sharing information that empowers people to either change their attitude or learn to live with it. Every month Lorna will scan the world and share her thoughts and experiences of aspects that affect the day to day lifestyle of women worldwide. You can find her on Twitter @LornaHuntePR.