Online Internet Shopping is the craze - Australia
Aussies and the world are logging on in record numbers, recent surveys conducted found that:
* Australians spent an average of $471 online in November (Nielson/NetRating) * The number of Australian shoppers utilising the Internet has grown exponentially, almost doubling to 2.3 million in the past twelve months (news.com.au) * 68% of Australians have a home Internet connection (Nielson/NetRating) * Australians are spending 31 hrs a month online compared to just 10 hrs in 2003 (Nielson/NetRating)
Throughout the world consumer preferences are changing, online purchases are fast becoming the norm as potential customers are becoming computer savvy. Here are few more resounding global facts.
* 400 million passengers worldwide are now booking their flights over the internet (TheAge) * The French spend nearly 50hrs a month online (Nielson/NetRating) * Online consumers spent a whopping $22.3 billion in America 2005
With these kinds of figures we know that consumer loyalties are changing when it comes to purchasing goods. Consumer confidence is at all time high and we at thedeal would like to help you the consumer with your online purchasing.
We have put together a quick online shopping checklist which we hope will guide you safely through deciding which and where to purchase your products.
Online shopping checklist
1. Identifying info--do you know who you're dealing with? Has the website provided contact information, such as the physical address of the business, phone and fax numbers and, in the case of Australian businesses, an Australian Business Number (ABN)? This is important if something goes wrong, for example, if your package doesn't arrive or your credit card is charged incorrectly.
2. Description of product--do you know what you're buying? Make sure the goods or services you are buying have been clearly described and they suit your need. Confirm this with the business (e.g. by email or phone).
3. Cost and currency--do you know how much you're paying? It is important that you know the final cost, especially if the business is going to charge your credit card. Clarify that delivery and handling costs have been included and check there are no ongoing fees.
Check if there any applicable taxes or import duties.
You should also clarify the currency--even an Australian company might list prices in US dollars.
4. Confirm the order--do you know if your order is correct? Once you know the final cost it is useful to get confirmation of your order before agreeing to pay.
5. Applicable law--do you know which country's laws will apply to the transaction? This is particularly important if you are doing business with a website based in another country.
6. Privacy--do you know how any personal information you submit will be treated? Many websites have privacy policies stating how they will deal with personal information. It's important that you read these policies as your name could end up on mailing lists that receive unsolicited email from online marketers. In many countries, including Australia, there is now privacy legislation.
7. Payment mechanism--do you know what sort of online security the website has for processing your payment? You need to satisfy yourself that any online payment by credit card is secure. Many online payment systems use secure sockets layer (SSL). The site should tell you that you are entering a secure online environment before you start to provide your credit card details. Usually an unbroken key or lock will appear in the bottom of your browser window to indicate you are sending information via a secure connection, or the web address will begin with https//:
8. Print out details--do you have printed copies of the terms of your agreement? Make sure you print out any form you have filled in and keep copies of any email correspondence. It's a good idea to print out pages from the website as a record of the offer you have accepted. This is important if the business denies having made promises to you. Remember, websites change regularly, and even disappear completely. You want to be able to prove the terms of your contract with the business.
9. Delivery--do you know how long it will take for the product to get to you and who to call if it doesn't arrive? You should clarify an expected delivery date so that you know when to start chasing it up if it hasn't arrived.
10. Terms and conditions--do you know all the terms and conditions? These will give you details of how the company deals with its customers. They need to be read carefully in case there are things you were unaware of, for instance, what happens if the chosen product is unavailable.
11. Refunds and warranties--do you know the business's return, exchange, refund and warranty policies? If you can't find any policies on the website, contact the business via email or telephone and ask them to explain their procedures.
Australian businesses are bound by the Trade Practices Act and/or fair trading legislation. This means businesses have to replace a product or refund your money if that product is not of merchantable quality, or fit for any purpose that you've made known to the supplier. Goods must also match any description given by the trader (this could include matching a photograph of the goods).
For services, they should be rendered with due care and skill and be reasonably fit to achieve the purpose specified.
Remember that goods bought at auction are not covered by statutory warranty rights other than those relating to clear title, quiet possession and owning the goods outright.
12. Complaint handling and dispute resolution--will you have access to a complaints handling process or any external dispute resolution mechanisms? Are you satisfied that, if you aren't happy with some part of the purchase, the business will attempt to resolve any complaint you make in a fair and open manner? Many businesses have policies about internal complaint handling and external dispute resolution when that they can't address any complaint you make directly to them--it's worth checking this out before you make your purchase.
About the author:
Writer and owner of many successful ecommerce websites
Written by: R Vonne
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