Online shoppers like all humans make mistakes, sometimes costly ones. With online shopping it’s a thin line between a bargain and stuff you didn’t bargain for.
These mistakes can cost you time and money and cause you untold frustration. Following are 25 common mistakes shoppers make when buying online.
- SHOPPING WITHOUT A SHOPPING LIST
Reports indicate that whereas 79% of consumers make shopping lists when buying groceries/drugs, less than half of online buyers make lists for food and personal care items.
A good shopping list tracks inventory, lists OOS items (so you can buy only what you need, avoid double purchases), and saves time.
Some popular shopping list apps include Out of Milk, Lister
- IGNORING COMPARISON SHOPPING SITES
Comparison Shopping Engines are the Google of online shopping; they crawl retailer websites to bring online shoppers best prices, shipping, etc so buyers can make smarter buying decisions.
- IGNORING COUPON, DEAL SITES
According to Inmar 41% of the 69% of consumers who make shopping lists prior to purchase, shop using coupons, with number of coupons redeemed between January and July 2017 surpassing one billion.
- NOT CHECKING EXPIRY DATE OF COUPONS/VOUCHERS
Some retailers like Bed Bath and Beyond accept expired coupons, others can reactivate deactivated shopping vouchers (but what if yours doesn’t or can’t?). Depending on where you live or shop, this process can take time. To beat this online shoppers are encouraged to redeem coupons or use vouchers on time.
- NOT NOTING PRE “SALES” PRICES
For 44 weeks starting in June 2014, Sale Fail researchers monitored prices of six to 10 big ticket items at Best Buy, Costco, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears and Target. They found out that some stores offered “fake” sale prices.
In 2016, JC Penny, Sears, Macy’s and Kohl’s were sued for tricking shoppers with “fake” sale pricing.
Some retailers raise prices prior to “sales” then “discount” same during said sales. Next time monitor pre-sale prices to be sure you’re really getting a discount.
- BUYING MORE TO QUALIFY FOR FREE SHIPPING
Retailers like Amazon encourage online shoppers to spend more to qualify for reduced or free shipping. For $10.99/month Amazon Prime subscribers enjoy free two-day shipping, free same day delivery in select metro areas, exclusive access to movies, TV shows, music, etc.
This can be tempting and cause many online shoppers to stuff their carts with items they really don’t need both to qualify for and maximize free shipping.
- LAST MINUTE PURCHASES
US retailers banked $79.2b in online sales between Nov. 1 and Dec 20, 2016 according to Adobe Digital Insights. Many customers put off holiday shopping till last minutes in hopes prices will plunge.
Last minute shopping can increase impulse buying as online shoppers chance upon surprise deals, causing them to spend more.
- WASTING TIME TILL YOU MISS A GOOD DEAL
Ever missed a sweet deal? Hesitation and long checkout processes can cost online shoppers a good deal. Flash sale items are hot cake, the need for speed is high. Faster fingers find better money saving deals in such instances.
- BUYING FROM LESSER KNOWN RETAILERS
54% of people don’t trust brands, much less brands they hardly know. Think hard before entering credit card information on retail sites you barely know. Do a Google search for credibility and consumer feedback, do they deliver and on time, what is return process like etc?
- NOT READING OR HEEDING CUSTOMER REVIEWS
It is for good reason that 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendation.
Amazon customer reviews is a good starting place. Minus the constant complainers, pay attention to reviews tagged “Verified Purchase”. Also read retailer reviews before buying.
If majority say A is bad, try B or be sorry.
- MISSING A GOOD DEAL BECAUSE OF FALSE CUSTOMER REVIEW
Here’s the catch, the majority may be right but your purchase could prove them wrong. I have bought items in spite of bad reviews and had good experiences. Similarly, I’ve had bad experiences buying well recommended products.
- CHOOSING THE WRONG COLOR/SIZE
According to Morgan Linton of Fashion Metric, the average online apparel retailer experiences a return rate of 28%, 80% of which are size related.
Most online shoppers buy several sizes of fashion items and return those that don’t fit. This practice costs retailers a lot. Some shoppers may decide to keep or gift such items due to return hassles.
Nowadays retailers are resorting to technology to check high rate of fashion returns.
- PICTURE-PRODUCT DISPARITY
Sometimes what you get offline isn’t what you saw online. Product photography is an art and is often exaggerated. Picture-product disparity is a big issue with new and even experienced shoppers easily falling for “photoshopped” images.
Most retailers like FlowerPetal.com put up a photo disclaimer saying product photos shown on their sites are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of actual product.
See what an online shopper Blaque got when she ordered a ghost chair on Amazon.
- ADDING MULTIPLE ITEMS TO CART
Some online shoppers like Josh Curren mistakenly add multiple items to cart only to find out after order has been completed, payment made.
Sometimes they don’t find out until items arrive, they just wonder why their bill was higher.
Other online shoppers may abandon cart on seeing higher costs not realizing they added multiple items to cart.
- NOT DOUBLE-CHECKING SHIPPING/DELIVERY ADDRESS
If you ship to multiple addresses chances are you could slip ship to an unintended address, occasioning a return or unintentionally gifting a purchase to a friend or loved one. Some online shoppers make this mistake.
Timing is of essence when redirecting a package, once it is packed for fulfillment it becomes difficult to redirect.
Some logistics companies could re-route for a fee or for free, either ways it costs money.
- NOT OPENING PACKAGE BEFORE DA’s LEAVE
Another mistake online shoppers make is not confirming packages before delivery associates depart. By the time they do, they may find defective items or entirely something else like these online shoppers who got a shocker each.
Other online shoppers may leave holiday packages unopened until well into the new year by which time their defective purchases or gifts are no longer eligible for returns.
They bear the loss.
- MISPLACING YOUR RECEIPT
Some retailers require purchase receipts to process returns and refunds or exchange. In 2015 retailers estimated that 3.5% of holiday returns were fraudulent. Keeping your receipts safe will save you hassles in the event of a return.
- NOT CHECKING RETURN POLICIES
UPS reports that 66% of shoppers review retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. Those who don’t may end up with unwanted or defective merchandise for failing to comply with return policy.
In most cases retailers are required by law to conspicuously display return policy on their websites. Always read it before buying.
- SHOPPING VIA OPEN WI-FI CONNECTIONS
Open Wi-Fi connections give hackers free access to information you transmit over such networks. JiWire reports that about one in five people who surf the internet have used free, public Wi-Fi.
If you shop online via public wi-fi you may be exposing yourself to attacks. Rami Khasawneh cautions “whatever you send over the Wi-Fi … the only thing that is secured or encrypted is your log-in.
Skycure found that there were 14 bad wi-fi networks in the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas.
- SHOPPING VIA PUBLIC PCs IN CYBER CAFES
Some online shoppers shop in public cyber cafés. PC’s may contain loggers and malware, you could forget to log out after your session and stay signed in or have someone peeking over your shoulders stealing your card or login details.
- CLICKING PHISHING/SPAM EMAILS
Suspicious emails from spammers and phishers purporting to be from popular retailers like Amazon are common.
Clicking on such links may lead you to malicious sites where they’ll request your account details or other personal information.
Wombat reports that 85% of organizations have suffered a phishing attack.
- PAYING ON NON-SECURE SITES
Recently Mozilla reported that nearly half the web is now encrypted, running on https, the more secure version of http. Bad news: some retailers still fall within the unsecure half.
Entering your personal information like credit card details and passwords in non-https sites is unsafe as hackers can steal your information and money.
Ensure your favorite retailer’s site uses https to process payments.
- NOT REGULARLY REVIEWING CREDIT CARD STATEMENT
Is it possible your credit card information was stolen? Could that be the reason for the many strange charges? Constantly reviewing your bank statement will alert you to suspicious transactions.
CreditCards.com reports that 11% of 2014 global data breaches occurred in the retail sector. In recent years, Nieman Marcus and Target were targets of large-scale credit card theft.
- SAVING CREDIT CARD DETAILS ON RETAILER SITE
In July 2016, the Korea Herald reported a hacking incident which affected more than 10 million online shoppers accounts.
With data breaches like this it is financially fatal to store your credit card information online. They could be harvested in the event of a hack.
- SETTING AUTOFILL FOR PAYMENT FORMS
For frequent online shoppers manually filling shipping, billing and payment information is a hassle. Autofill reduces this hurdle but could raise new challenges.
Mobile shoppers are especially at risk. Lost or stolen smartphones with autofill enabled don’t hold back, they tell all, so be careful when shopping via mobile.
Buyer Beware: Recently, Viljami Kuosmanen discovered that several web browsers could be fooled into giving away users personal information.
As online shoppers, what online shopping mistakes have you made?