We know that a lot of people, especially the baby boomers (or older) like my parents are technologically-challenged. Many of us millennials and Gen-Xers laugh at them and probably become impatient with them when it comes to technology. However, there’s this term I would like to coin that deals with people, not just baby boomers and older, but millennials as well. I like to call it: the online shopping noobs.
I coined this term because online shopping goes beyond the technicalities of browsing a website and adding to cart and ordering items. It’s more than that. Many people who are great at programming and the other more complicated side of the internet are bad at online shopping and discerning which online shop is legit or not. This is especially very apparent in the Philippines wherein a lot of sellers independently-sell their stuff online via Facebook or Instagram only without a website or a reputable middleman site that can help them process orders.
I’m gonna help you decipher and improve your online shopping intuition with this checklist:
✔ In-depth and up-to-date product details and pictures
This one is quite obvious because scammers won’t invest a lot of time in adding more pictures and descriptions to their products. Pure and simple. A bonus is that when shopping and browsing through legit online shops, you don’t only get satisfaction in getting what you want, but you also gain more knowledge in the many products and tips available in their site.
✔ Legit Website or Online Shopping Mall
I’m not saying that those without official websites and domain names are not legit. In fact, in the Philippines many of them are. However, I would just like to stress out that you’re risking your money by shopping at stores without an official website and domain name. You would also have to check the feel, look, and content (should be very detailed) of the website if they’re just wanting to scam people or if they’re really a legit business. Now speaking of legitimacy….
✔ DTI, Business Bureau, BIR, and FDA/BPS/OMB-registered.
While not all sellers can comply to these requirements as many of them have day jobs and are only selling for extra income, there are some cases wherein this is very important. One of the cases is online shopping for gadgets or other imported items because many of them are quite expensive. Even if you’re eyeing the one that costs only P5,000, P5,000 is still P5,000. I bet if you’re part of the middle class, you don’t get to work for P5,000 per hour. For some, it might be for 3 days or maybe more. That P5,000 you worked hard for would be a waste if you end up being scammed. If you’re wanting to buy a gadget online, Argomall is risk-free, with complete government registration plus detailed info of their products.
Make sure that where you’re buying from has all those government papers even when you’re only buying cheap stuff like a K-pop album or poster. Despite the cheaper price of some sellers who don’t have those papers, you still risk a lot when buying from them because they could have problems anytime when caught. Many government agencies are now strict in implementing regulations on imported items and what better (and less risky) way to get your items than via those shops who pay their import duties and taxes to the government. Korean Cravings is one of the very few K-Pop online shops that are OMB-registered.
✔ Great Customer Service
This can be tricky. Well actually everything in my checklist is tricky. For the customer service, it’s really important that they are reactive to the needs of the customers. However, in some cases, I see that overreaction to a potential sale seems very dangerous too. If a seller is very excited on a sale, he/she might only be in it for the money or he/she might be a bogus seller. I recommend someone who is just relaxed when answering your questions, and polite, of course.
There are also legit online shopping stores that fail to answer potential customers because of the upsurge of sales. Be wary of this because as customers, no matter how many we are, deserve a VIP treatment. If the seller fails at this no matter how legit he or she is, then expect to have anxiety when waiting for your orders and a half-baked online shopping experience because the process itself is an experience, not just the destination of getting the item you bought.
✔ Return and Exchange Policy
This is very basic. In fact, each online shop or seller, whether or not he/she is registered to the DTI/Biz Bureau/BIR or just a stay-at-home mom reselling cosmetics for extra income, having a return or exchange policy is a must. Before completing a purchase, make sure that you check if the seller has it, or if you’re just buying from a friend, make sure that you ask him or her what the return policy is because you might receive a damaged item unexpectedly. Even if it’s the supplier’s or manufacturer’s fault, the seller must have expenses or also a return term with his or her supplier. Oddly enough, there are sellers who don’t accept return or exchange. You already know what to do.
✔ Customer Feedback and Reviews
This is another tricky one. It’s very easy to edit pictures for feedback or letting friends write on Review of feedback pages. I know some restaurants and online shops that have 5/5 positive feedback but what my friends and I experienced from them is really bad. You cannot just rely on what you see on Feedback pages. When browsing an online shop’s Instagram and look out for feedback, make sure to also check if the person who wrote or posted the feedback exists.
Discerning whether an online shop is legit or not is no easy task. In fact, most of my family and friends consult with me before buying stuff online. To risk your hard-earned money less, the perfect solution, in case your online shopping intuition is still a long way to go, is to ask someone reliable about it–be it a friend or an expert in online shopping. Feel free to ask me about an online shop’s legitimacy. Comment below! 🙂