The modern shopper is usually not one to spend hours upon hours browsing various stores, markets and sales when seriously looking for a particular item. Whether new or used, the way of thinking now is if you want something specific, there’s really only one place to look for it first: online!
Online shopping has skyrocketed in popularity among all generations. Online shopping retail sales are predicted to grow steadily to $370 billion in 2017, up from $231 billion in 2012 (if you find astonishing online shopping statistics interesting, check out this article from CMO.com). And why? Well anyone can answer that – to save time and money.
But just as the modern shopper has experienced the awesomeness of purchasing items online, they’ve usually also had the experience of purchasing something, well…. not so awesome. Saving time and money is not so helpful when the final result is disappointment. So this blog post is dedicated to all the ways we online consumers can efficiently bargain shop our way to success.
1. Explore the Uncharted Territory
Before you start buying, get familiar with the ins and outs of the site you are visiting. Some sites, like Etsy — where you can not only buy handmade items, but used items as well — are pretty straightforward. EBay can be a bit more complicated, with its variety of options for buying and selling and tricks to scoring the best stuff. Their Bidding and Buying Help page can help you get the lay of the land.
2. Read the Fine Print
Before making a purchase, form a solid understanding of important details like shipping fees, shipping times and return policies. The information should all be accessible – read it so you know what you’re getting into.
3. Be Discerning
From the old guard like Craigslist to newer players like local re-selling marketplace Wallapop, most of these sites offer seller ratings or reviews. They are all a little different. But before you buy from someone,
try to figure out if this person is reliable. Look for top-rated sellers with reviews confirming quality merchandise, responsiveness and fast shipping times.
4. Look for a Quality Guarantee
While it’s pretty much a free-for-all on most of these sites, with sellers posting and selling their wares with no oversight, some sites, like clothing and accessories re-seller ThredUp, hand-select the merchandise on their site. If an item is less than perfect, the imperfection is indicated so you really know what you’re getting.
5. Know You’re Not Alone
Buying items from individuals may be unnerving, but most of these online marketplaces have protections in place to ensure you are a happy customer. A good example of this is clothing marketplace Poshmark’s Poshprotect, which does not release your payment to the seller until you give the A-OK. And if you’re unhappy, they make it fairly to return your order (it has to be for a good reason, not just because you changed your mind). Local re-selling marketplace OfferUp offers an extra layer of security with its TruYou verification system, which helps to ID the seller as a “trusted” user.
6. Meet Face to Face & Do It Safely
If you see something you like on a local re-selling marketplace like the Recycler.com, be sure to meet the seller somewhere secure – you are meeting a stranger after all! Some communities offer designated Craigslist sale zones outside fire or police stations specifically to ensure the safety of these face-to-face sales. You might consider bringing someone with you, and if that’s not possible, let someone know where you will be and when you expect to be home. Also, do not buy anything until you have thoroughly looked it over and tested its functionality.