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Online shopping: a few safety tips to help you make the most of it

The internet has changed the way we shop and can save us a lot of time and money, but it pays to keep a few safety tips in mind.

Indeed, millions of Australians now shop online, and the number is increasing each day, with recent research showing seniors – particularly senior women – as the biggest growth area.

Benefits of online shopping include being able to browse for information more easily, compare products and prices at the click of a button, and occasionally find bargain prices.

It’s also extra convenient as you can shop at any time of day from the comfort of your own home or smartphone – you’re not limited to store hours. Nor are you limited to a location – you can access shops from all around Australia and, indeed, the world.

COVID-19 has further increased the uptake of online shopping, according to research recently undertaken by e-commerce platform Cashrewards.

“It’s well known that Australians have turned to online shopping during COVID-19, but our new research really unpacks what’s driving different groups of Australian shoppers and how that means they will shop in the future,” says Cashrewards shopping and loyalty expert Bernard Wilson.

“Female seniors aged 65+ have actually increased their tendency to shop online more than any other group, and are reluctantly embracing e-commerce, although they still strongly prefer to touch and try items before they buy them.”

Be wary of online shopping dangers

Like all things online, however, there are some dangers to online shopping. Keeping in mind some simple common-sense rules can help you enjoy the many benefits of online shopping without the undesired outcome of being scammed or ripped off.

First of all, if you’re not familiar with the retailer, do some research on them.

Start by looking the retailer up on Google and reading reviews from other customers. Google and Facebook both have their own review functions, while the website is another popular place for reviews.

If a retailer from which you’re planning to make a purchase has many positive reviews, you can feel more comfortable using them. In addition to reviews, there will be ratings, usually out of 5 or out of 10 – a high rating with lots of customer reviews is another great sign that the retailer is legit.

In terms of supplying your credit card details, remember that when you buy something using a secure connection, the retailer’s internet address will always begin with HTTPS. In some browsers, there will also be a padlock symbol in the address bar. Never give your credit card details over a non-HTTPS connection unless you trust the retailer 100%.

It also pays to know what you’re buying. Always read the product description and view the item carefully – legitimate online retailers will generally always provide ample information about what is being purchased, from description to uses, dimensions, images and more.

It’s one thing to be ripped off, but it’s even more common for a customer to end up with an item that doesn’t fit their expectations because they didn’t read the product description carefully enough.

If you’re unsure about what you’re buying, send an email or contact the retailer via the supplied phone number to get further information. This can also help settle your fears over the legitimacy of the website. 

Always read the Terms & Conditions before making a purchase too.