Buying Electronics Online
Before the birth of the internet, the word “shopping” was often associated with fun in-store visits, push carts and shopping baskets, and of course, a number of paper shopping bags you carry with both hands. Traditional purchasing allows shoppers to interact with sellers and learn about the uses and features of the product, especially when buying electronics. Shopping in-store also enables them to fully inspect their product before proceeding to the cashier
Now, retailers are stepping it up, preying on most consumers’ weak spot in today’s bustling era – convenience and economy. Online shopping is the name of the game. Today, you can easily browse online for items, compare prices, see photos and description, fill up some purchasing and delivery details, and wait for your package to be handed to you on your doorstep. And with several discounts available
While online shopping has several edges over brick and mortar shopping, it also comes with several pitfalls. If you’re buying electronic devices online, here are some tips to make the most of your online shopping experience.
Trimming the price tag
- Consider open box items and refurbished electronics. Refurbished electronics are items that were returned due to minor shipping damage/s or production defect/s. Such problems were repaired by manufacturers and re-packaged. Open-box items, on the other hand, are goods returned by previous customers, inspected by the retailer, and re-sold at a discount. Open-box goods are new and never repaired. The only reason for selling at a lower price is because the box was opened, thus reducing the value.
Open-box and refurbished units are offered often at a deep discount of around 15 to 30 %. They also come with a warranty and new parts and accessories, so they are “good as new.”
- Don’t skip the promo code box. If words like “promo code” or “coupon code” suddenly grab your attention upon checkout, then there’s likely a code lurking out there to increase your savings.
- Steer clear of buying extended warranties. Extended warranties are often considered unnecessary purchases. The warranty provided by the gadget’s manufacturer is almost always adequate, so don’t let the reasoning talk of sellers lure you.
Saving while ensuring quality
- Compare prices wisely. “The smartphone options in gadget store X are limited. Maybe gadget stores Y and Z are offering a wider range of units I can choose from as well as more discounts. I just have to keep looking.” When you’re in a shopping mall, you might go all the way from store X to stores Y and Z which are located on different mall levels to compare.
The ease of comparing prices is one of the best things about e-commerce. You can quickly browse different retailers without leaving your desk chair. You look at prices and promos then choose which site offers the products which best suit your need.
- Track Price History. Checking the price history allows you to determine the best time to buy the item. Gadgets, for example, are items that depreciate quickly. Today, the tablet unit everyone’s drooling over is in; by a week or two, you see its price dramatically drop as new models take over the market.
Before canvassing the price online, it’s necessary to check the original price of the item in stores. Constantly watch over ever-fluctuating online prices by using price-tracking tools such as CamelCamelCamel, SlickDeals, PriceZombie, Invisible Hand, and CheapShark.
- Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. The 70% cut on the original price does seem like a great steal, doesn’t it? Well, think again. If the discounted price online is too glaring from its initial price, then there’s a great chance the product has some defects the seller fails to disclose. Or worse, the seller may be bogus.
Protecting yourself from bogus and fraudulent sellers
- Buy only from trusted sellers from trusted sites. The main reason why some consumers fear online shopping is because unscrupulous, fraudulent sellers exist. Receiving damaged or counterfeit electronics and paying without actually receiving your package are some of the worst cases you don’t want to happen.
Keep mind that you’re doing business with something/someone that gets some personal information, contact details, and payment, so you might as well check its credibility. Do your research. Check how long they have been operating. Read reviews, not only about the websites but also about their sellers. Learn from the feedback of their past customers; what their experiences are on transacting with the seller and on the item they received.
- Amp up your security against malicious sites/ software. Online shopping may be convenient and all but it’s not without its dangers. Another notorious dark aspect of e-commerce is becoming a victim of identity fraud, which then leads to the fraudster’s financial gain. To avoid falling prey to malicious sites, make sure you update your anti-virus software. Don’t make purchases on public networks either. Lastly, always look for “https” (and NOT http) in the checkout URL to make sure the confidential details you encoded are secured.
Exercising your rights as a consumer
- Inspect your product thoroughly. As an e-commerce customer, you solely root your judgment from the pictures and descriptions presented in the website. You only get to see, touch, and try out your product the moment it gets delivered. Inspect your item ASAP so you can return and replace it (if it’s defective) immediately.
Once you get hold of your package, see if all advertised accessories are included in your package, like cables, chargers, plugs, earphones, and manual. Then, inspect your gadget. Check for dents and scratches. For tablets, phones, and computers, check the screens which are prone to scratches. Press all the buttons to check if they are all responsive. Check if the earphones and earphone jack are working. Test your accessories as well.
- Read and understand warranty/return policy. Should you have concerns regarding the package, like if it’s faulty or if it wasn’t the one you ordered, it is your right to have it returned, replaced, and repaired. Look for the return and warranty policies posted on the website. Likewise, the online retailing company has right to refuse to accept the returned product if the damages and the wear and tear resulted from the customer’s misuse.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Zapals, a renowned global shopping website serving Australia, Hong Kong, and China. Aside from taking photos and playing the piano, this tech-savvy writer also loves writing blogs about e-commerce and tips on finding great electronics online.