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  1. 1. Courtney StifelJeanne AndersonIM26030 March 2012 The world of online shopping is constantly evolving. More and more retailersare setting up online stores and sites such as PayPal make buying online easier andhelp protect shopper’s personal information. “Lets face it, theres every reason inthe world to shop online. The bargains are there. The selection is mind-boggling.The shopping is secure. Shipping is fast. Even returns are pretty easy, with the righte-tailers. Shopping has never been easier or more convenient for consumers”(Griffith). While there are tons of benefits to shopping online, it is important toknow how to shop safely. Privacy is one of the top concerns regarding online shopping. It is importantto know what you are shopping for and shop at a trusted website. Entering a desiredproduct into a search engine can often lead shoppers astray, pulling up hundreds ofunfamiliar sites. A shopper’s best bet is to stick to known websites, and to manuallytype in the websites URL. When shopping on unfamiliar sites, the chances ofencountering a scam increase. If a shopper finds themselves enticed by anunfamiliar site, there are a few ways to check a sites credibility. First off, check the URL. Sites that have a secure sockets layer (SSL) are the
  2. 2. safer than those that do not. Youll know if the site has SSL because the URL for thesite will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlockwill appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or rightnext to the URL in the address bar (Griffith). Using sites like orBizRate offer customer reviews which can also help determine the legitimacy of thecompany. However it is important to keep in mind that not all reviews are genuine.Look for third-party seals of approval. Companies can put these seals on their sites ifthey abide by a set of rigorous standards such as how personal information can beused (Microsoft). Two seals to look for are the BBBOnline, and TRUSTe. Giving too much personal information to a website can set a shopper up forfraud and/or identity theft. Be weary of the information a site asks for. Do notprovide personal information that seems unnecessary for an online purchase suchas a social security number or information regarding a personal bank account.Checking to see if the site has a privacy policy posted, or a link to a privacy policy isanother way to see what information the site will request for a purchase, and howthat information will be used. If a site does not have a privacy policy posted, youmay not want to do business with that site. If it does have a privacy policy, there willprobably be a link to it from the sellers home page ( Sites like PayPal are designed to let you shop without sharing personalfinancial information. “Your financial security is our highest priority. Shop saferonline knowing that retailers never see your bank or credit card numbers when youuse PayPal. Better still, you’re protected from any unauthorized payment made from
  3. 3. your PayPal account” ( PayPal accounts are free and easy to set up.Speaking of setting up accounts, it is important to use unique passwords, not easilyguessed by others, on any shopping account. Now that you are aware of how to be a safer online shopper, lets look at someof the benefits to shopping online. Comparing products and pricing has never beeneasier. Online shopping is green, convenient, and the opportunity to find bargainsand variety is great. Comparing products and prices online is as easy as pulling up consumerreviews and competitor websites. Rather than driving from store to store to pricematch, we can do it all from a computer. This contributes to the fact that onlineshopping has a ‘green’ aspect to it. Shopping online does not require the consumerto drive around town in search for the perfect product, or just the right price. Muchof the paperwork is completed and saved in a computer file, decreasing the amountof actual paper-work. Online shopping can be incredibly convenient if the shopper knows whathe/she is doing. There are several tips to implement in order to avoid some hasslethat can be associated with shopping online. One important tip is to always look atthe return policy. Many online stores allow returns, Urban Outfitters provides a freereturn policy, these are the best ones to come across. If the site does not allowproduct returns, the shopper needs to be sure that what they are ordering is exactlywhat they want/need. Shipping dates are another thing to be aware of. It is probably not a good
  4. 4. idea to order a product from an online store if the shopper is in a time crunch toreceive it. Additional fees are often associated with rush delivery, and the bottomline is that delivery dates can never be fully guaranteed. “When buying online dontcount on promised delivery dates or inventory representations. Katie Young,spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau…says that even well-intentionedcompanies sometimes overpromise” (Spring). By being aware of terms, conditionsand the fine print, many shopping annoyances can be prevented. No shopping mall, and a majority of stores cannot offer the convenience ofonline shopping. Online stores are open twenty-four hours a day, seven day a week.By online shopping shoppers avoid waiting in checkout lines and having to navigatelarge crowds. This is especially true during the holidays. Often times online retailers are able to offer lower prices than stores whenproducts ship directly from the manufacturer. Many online stores offer specialdiscounts, coupons, and rebates. Online outlet stores such as Haute look arebecoming more and more popular and offer huge savings on everything fromclothes and cooking appliances, to assecories and home décor. Outlet stores offerhuge discounts on products and have a wide variety of items. isanother site where shoppers can find a huge selection of merchandise at discountedprices. Another way to receive coupons is by joining membership programs certaincompanies might offer or by joining an E-mail list which alerts you of special sales,or sends member-only coupons.
  5. 5. Variety is a huge benefit to shopping online. As the internet constantly grows,so does the amount of product. Almost every mainstream retailer has set up shoponline, and we are starting to see more stores that only operate online. Whenshopping online, shoppers are not limited to geographical area meaning a shoppercan shop at stores that may not be at their local mall. This saves time, money andhassel. As you can see there are many benefits to shopping online. However, it isimportant to know how to be a smart online shopper. Protecting individual identityshould be an online shoppers utmost concern. Being knowledgeable allowsshoppers to find great deals, shop safely, and shop a huge variety of products.