Why You Should Only Go Shopping in a Good Mood

Common wisdom suggests that it’s a bad idea to go grocery shopping while hungry. If you haven’t eaten in some time, chances are everything in the store will look good, and you might end up wasting money by making frivolous purchase you wouldn’t normally make. Hunger clouds your better judgment, and you could end up with a lot of ingredients that add up to nothing, or with several precooked ‘quick fix’ items that you would have been better off leaving behind.

Retail Therapy

The same logic applies to shopping for new clothes, but this fact is far less accepted. When people are in a bad mood, they occasionally head to the mall to make themselves feel better, a phenomenon sometimes called ‘retail therapy’. Retail therapy may work in the short term, but in the long run, engaging in this practice results in losing money by making impulsive buying decisions and spending irrationally. As a general rule, then, it’s better to go shopping in a good mood.

When people feel bad about themselves, they want to surround themselves with items that will make them feel better, whether about their physical appearance, social stature, or romantic prospects. Sometimes, a change is required to get out of a bad mood, and while it’s important to recognize this, a change in wardrobe probably will not ultimately do the trick. Although we might feel compelled to buy clothes that convey a different personality than the clothes we usually wear, the end result of such impulse buys could accomplish the opposite result.

New clothes, if chosen wisely, can inspire confidence, and this could be the motive that drives some people to engage in retail therapy. As with hunger, however, negative emotions can cloud our usual, rational judgment, and cause us to buy things that, in a better mood, we would never have considered. If you are passed up for a promotion at work, you may think that buying a few items will spruce up your appearance and make you more impressive, giving you an edge next time around. This could be true, but visiting the department store on the way home from work will probably not solve the problem.

Your Unique Style

There are a few reasons for this. First, even though the idea of adding flare to your wardrobe is not bad in itself, the emotional state you are in will influence how you shop. Even if you don’t consciously think about it, you may be more likely to buy clothes similar to those worn by the person who got promoted over you, or to those you think will attract a particular individual to you. Just because these styles have worked for other people, however, does not mean that they will work as well for you. If you are shopping to make yourself feel better, chances are that you have already spent several years developing a style that is uniquely yours and that suits you fairly well. Attempting, even unconsciously, to emulate someone else’s style, will prevent you from expressing yourself in a style that is yours alone.

Even if you manage to avoid the pitfall of accidentally dressing like your successful neighbor, you may have a difficult time confidently wearing new clothes if you were upset when you bought them. Despite all your rationalizations, at bottom you probably know that retail therapy is an irrational behavior and that you are being frivolous with your money. This knowledge could prevent you from taking the same delight in your purchases as you would have if you had made those purchases in a secure, happy mood. If you can’t wear your new clothes with confidence and pride, you might as well not have bought them at all.

So even if a new suit is the solution to all of your problems, it’s better to wait until the sting of your missed promotion has worn off, and buy the suit on a good day.

Shopping Malls

Previously, there were exclusive shopping centers where a customer could move around the quaint shops or blocks and choose whatever he or she fancied. A shopping mall is no different, its only larger. It is a building or sometimes a set of buildings, with a number of retail outlets. The difference lies in the interconnecting corridors or walks that enable customers to access each unit and move back and forth, if needed, before investing in any particular product or service. The visitors can walk from unit to unit and relax at the in-between sit-outs or snack bars as they shop! Malls are also referred to as retail parks or precincts.

Products and Services Available

Shopping malls are either enclosed retail structures or open-air retail complexes. They flaunt a mix of local shops and international chain stores. They make available easy access to a number of products and services like apparel, electronic items, footwear, accessories, exclusive jewelry, beauty products, and even services! Arcades also enable the shoppers to lounge around, listen to music, entrust children to a play pen, and enjoy a snack or a beverage as they shop. The whole shopping experience has been redefined. It is now a family affair and no more cumbersome even for dad! He gets space to continue work on the laptop or sip on hot chocolate or a lemonade, as mom drains his bank balance!

Types

The early indoor mall was usually two or three-story, complete with a basement and shops located on all levels. Today, the difference is the vertical expansion; it have many more levels. The in-house utilities and the variety has increased too. The concept of the enclosed mall was experimented on and pioneered by the American immigrant from Austria, Victor Gruen. This new generation arcade is an open-air pedestrian shopping center enclosed to enhance the appeal and experience within the dense, new, sprawling, and large residential suburbs. Today there are complexes that are agglomerations and literally, distinct landmarks. The malls today have hundreds of retail centers and speciality stores.

Pedestrian Precincts

A mall is also a term used to refer to a place that has a collection of outlets, adjoining a pedestrian area. This enables the shoppers to walk around and check out the products and services without interference from vehicle traffic. Usually, the term arcade is also used for such an arrangement with a narrow pedestrian-only street between closely spaced buildings. The trend is to create the shopping centers within old shopping districts, surrounded by subsidiary streets. The retail parks comprise warehouse style shops with individual entrances and accessibility from the outdoors. The pedestrian precincts also have hundreds of shops, restaurants, and screen cinema avenues.

Components

Shopping malls now have exclusive food courts that offer different cuisine. The food court enables the shoppers to order the snack or meal and carry it to a common dining area. These venues are usually plaza contiguous, flaunting counters of a number of food vendors. Malls have their own underground or adjacent parking facilities, not to side-line the valet parking services. They also have segments within the main basement or the entrance arena to look after toddlers. The adolescents can indulge in the cyber cafes or the gaming arcades within. There are masseur services and make overs regularly announced, along with DJ music! Malls are weather-protected and offer the ultimate ‘under-one-roof’ shopping experience.

A shopping property management company specializes in managing malls. This management is welcomed by the retailers who either own the shops or rent them, since the functionality of the utilities, like the escalators and elevators, are taken care of by the management firm.

Online Shopping: Where to Compare?

As a quick glance through the articles surrounding this one will show, these days, you’re unlikely to find an even halfway savvy consumer buying anything without looking around a little online first. Well, except for eBay auction items, maybe. In fact, I just bought a crummy camera posing as a much better one on eBay, and was so caught up in a small bidding war and in really wanting to get something good for cheap that I didn’t even look the thing up before entering the winning bid. But that’s different―I’m not an even halfway savvy consumer. Maybe a quarter way savvy, but that’s about it. I’m talking here about people who buy smart.

Except here’s the thing: what does it mean to buy smart, actually? I’m not comparison shopping is bad―not at all―but I do want to suggest that even a habit of comparison shopping doesn’t guarantee the ‘best buy’. Moreover, I suspect that doing all one’s comparison shopping online actually makes finding the ‘best buy’ less likely, especially if we really stop to think about what we mean by the ‘best buy’. Here is a personal anecdote to draw out the points I hope to make.

I moved to Paris almost two months ago―Paris, the shopping capital of the world! And I’m broke, working 70-hour weeks to live downtown in a 7th-story walk-up. Now, you might quite reasonably take issue with my life choices, but you cannot dispute that I’m in need of finding the ‘best buy’ with each purchase I make. Especially once you know that I’ve had to mostly furnish this apartment myself, and have been renovating it, too. Let’s re-cap: I’m broke, living in one of the world’s more expensive cities, surrounded by a plethora of options for every consumer decision, and am renovating and outfitting a studio apartment for as little as I possibly can.

So, the ‘best buy’ would seem at first glance simple: it’s whatever’s cheapest. Or, at second glance, it’s the cheapest option that I actually like. At a third glance, it’s more complex, but stays along these same lines: the ‘best buy’ is whatever item that feels like the best negotiation between what I want (from virtually limitless options) and what I can afford (with a more than a little restricted pocketbook).

In fact, though, the ‘best buy’ has come to mean something more than that for me. It’s not just about an item; it’s about an overall experience. The ‘best buy’ is that which offers the best interaction with my environment, balancing a delicate complex of factors: the standard price, style, quality, sure; but also a new experience, an interesting encounter with someone, seeing a different part of the city, some moral satisfaction with the purchase, even physical exercise.

Take, for example, the aforementioned (digital) camera. Now, that was not the best purchase, not at all. I bought it for about 80 Euros (~110 to 115 USD), and I didn’t check around in advance, and now I’m stuck with this lousy piece of thick plastic with awkward sliding mechanisms, no lens cover, and a wait-time of about half-a-minute after each photo. Not good. (By the way, that’s an Easypix S312―not recommended.) What’s worse, it just arrived in my mailbox one day; I didn’t even have to leave my house. I know that last part is something a lot of people value, but I don’t. Even if this had been a ‘good buy’ in terms of price and quality, it wouldn’t have been a ‘best buy’ because it gave me nothing, in terms of an experience of the world around me. After all, isn’t a large part of the historical value of trade―so often touted by subscribers to the system of capitalism―precisely its ability to bring people together, to motivate new movements? So, why on earth would I want to buy a camera online, eschewing the world of opportunities around me here in Paris?

Here’s the thing: I was comparison shopping at the time. I was checking out camera prices on eBay in order to know if I were getting a good deal on one here in town. Then, sadly, I got caught up in auction madness. Again, that’s not exactly a point against comparison shopping as such―it seems to have a lot more to do with my own psyche―but I suspect I’m not 100% alone in this particular tendency. Especially given what I hear and read about other people’s credit card debt.

Far better would have been―as I did for my sheets, my computer monitor and speakers, lamps, a coffee table, a toaster oven, and other sundries―to check on Craigslist (paris.craigslist.org) and to window shop. Because, see, here’s the thing: For every item I’ve bought from a private individual or at a shop somewhere along the way (some were bargains, and others were not), I’ve had an interesting interaction and have seen a little more of the city I live in. By exercising a little common sense in my purchases (and doing some budgeting), I really haven’t had or wanted to ‘comparison shop’ for most of my purchases, at least not in the sense of obsessive checking around on the internet.

A final example, and that’s it from me. I need a new pair of shoes, and I’ve tried both methods: hardcore comparison shopping through Internet merchants, and lots and lots of window shopping. The latter, almost needless to say, is far more pleasurable. As I stroll from place to place (and remember, I’m working my tail off; it’s not like I’m just hanging around the city), I stop here and there to check out a good pair in a window. Sometimes, if I have an extra moment, I’ll stop in, maybe even try on a pair. I’ve seen a lot of shoes I like―and, truth be told, I really need a pair; I don’t have any black ‘dress’ shoes at the moment, and that’s no good―but I’m not ready to buy just yet. I wouldn’t say I’m comparison shopping, exactly. I’m just waiting for the right pair to make themselves known to me. And that’s the way shopping should be.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/online-shopping-where-to-compare.html

Making Shopping Online as Enjoyable and Safe as Shopping at the Mall

With just a click of your mouse, you can buy virtually any product online―from electronics to gifts, clothing, food, and even cars and homes. The Internet has made it possible for consumers to shop at literally thousands of online stores, browse through dozens of products to find just what they’re looking for, and pay for their purchases without ever leaving home. For many people, e-commerce has completely replaced a Saturday afternoon trip to the mall.

There used to be many inherent flaws and risks associated with online shopping. Computer glitches caused orders to get lost, and poor customer service made it impossible to get problems resolved. Shoppers would often be at the mercy of cybercrooks always on the prowl to take advantage of their naivety and cheat them. But in recent years, e-commerce has become much more safe and secure, thanks to the growing competition of online shops, the security services that rate e-commerce sites, more advanced encryption technology, and shoppers increased Internet savvy. Things can still go wrong, but there are several things you can control that will make your online shopping experience a good one.

Shop at only secure websites.
Secure e-commerce sites use encryption technology to transfer information from your computer to the merchant’s computer. Encryption scrambles the information you send, such as address, phone number, and credit card numbers, to prevent hackers from obtaining the information as it travels from your computer to the store’s computer. The only people who can unscramble the encryption are those who have legitimate access privileges. Usually you can tell if a website is secure if the URL of the site begins with https://. The ‘s’ at the end indicates that the website is secure. You may not actually see the ‘s’ until you proceed to the actual order page of the website.

Research the website before you place an order.
Online stores that also have an established brick-and-mortar presence, such as Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and others, have websites that are very safe and secure. If the company is unfamiliar to you, do your homework before you trust them with your personal information. Reliable companies should display a physical business address and at least one telephone number. Call the phone number and ask questions to determine whether the business is legitimate. Ask any questions you may have, such as how they handle returns or complaints. You can also research a company by visiting ratings sites such as epinions.com, where other online shoppers write posts detailing their experiences with online shopping sites.

Read the website’s security policies and privacy statement.
Every reputable online shopping site provides information about how it processes your order, and what it does with the information it collects from you. The privacy policies should tell you what type of information they gather, what they do with it, and whether or not it will be shared with other companies. Often the merchant’s data security practices are also explained in the Privacy Policy. Look for online merchants who are members of a program that gives a seal of approval to safe online shopping sites. TRUSTe, Verisign, and BBBonline are the most commonly seen programs. Be aware that a security policy and a seal of approval do not guarantee that a merchant will protect the privacy of your information indefinitely. You may have little control over your information if the company files for bankruptcy, sells its customer database, is purchased by another company, or has to give up its customer information for law enforcement investigations.

Use a credit card if at all possible.
The safest way to shop online is with a credit card, because if something goes wrong you are protected. The federal Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute charges on your credit card, and you don’t have to pay anything on the balance while an investigation is being conducted. If it is determined that your card number was used without your authorization, you are responsible for only the first $50 in charges, but credit card companies rarely enforce this. The best approach to online shopping is to use only one credit card for all online purchases, so it will be easier for you to detect incorrect charges. Make sure the card is a true credit card and not a debit card, check card, or ATM card. Shopping by check is never a good idea, since it leaves you vulnerable to bank fraud, and sending a money order doesn’t give you any protection if you have problems with the purchase. Debit and ATM cards are not protected by federal laws the way credit cards are.

Never, ever give out your Social Security number or information not related to your purchase.
There is never any reason for an online merchant to ask for your Social Security number, so if they do, this should be a huge red flag to you. Giving out your Social Security number could lead to having your identity stolen. Additionally, some online merchants try to get more information about you to target you for marketing purchases. You don’t need to provide information about your other interests, lifestyle, or annual income. Usually websites will mark with an asterisk the questions you are required to answer in order to make your purchase, but if a company requires information you aren’t comfortable in providing, then don’t order from them.

Always print out a copy of your order.
After you place an order online, you should receive a confirmation page that details your entire order, including charges, customer information you provided, product information, and a confirmation or order number. You should print out at least one copy of this page, as well as the page showing the company’s name, address, phone number, and return policy. You may also receive a confirmation message in your e-mail, and you should save and/or print this message as well.

Pay attention to the company’s shipping information and return policies.
A company must ship your order within the time stated in their ad. If no time frame is stated, the merchant must ship the product within 30 days, or give you the option of canceling the order and receiving a refund. Be sure to review the choices offered for shipping, and be sure you know the shipping and handling fees before you place the order. Find out how the merchant handles returns or complaints, and whether or not you will get a full refund if there is a problem with your order.

Last but not least―listen to your gut instinct.
If, while browsing through an online store’s information, you get a feeling that you shouldn’t shop there, don’t ignore those warning bells. There is much truth to the adage that if something doesn’t sound right, then it probably isn’t.

One of the best rules you can follow is to shop only with companies located in the United States, so you will have some legal recourse if your purchase results in a problem. When you shop within the U.S. you are protected by state and federal consumer laws. You might not get the same protection if you order something from a company located in another country.

Online Shopping Trends

Online shopping―what was once frowned upon has now managed to gain acceptance with open wallets! Yes, while in the past we hesitated ordering things online, and most importantly questioned the safety of letting out our credit/debit card details on the Internet, now due to the safe and secure online market, the skepticism has vanished to a great extent. A recent study done by eMarketer confirms the truth of this statement. Their analysis predicts the growth of online sales in the United States to USD 434.2 billion by 2017, from USD 225.5 billion in 2012.

The year 2009 saw an extraordinary trend. While most industries suffered significant losses due to recession, the U.S. saw a significant rise in online retail of 11%, according to a report by Forrester Research published in March 2010. This just shows the popularity of the trend of online shopping in the past few years.

Online Shopping: From a Luxury to a Trend to a Necessity

The 90s proved to be historical for Internet shopping when the world was introduced to the ‘World Wide Web’. The pioneering online shopping sites such as Amazon and eBay were launched in 1995, and they still continue to reign the kingdom of online retail market. Among the initial steps in Internet selling was the selling of books. What started as a trial-and-error strategy―with many people wondering the feasibility of the success of web shopping―today, has become a revolutionary industry worth billions!

With the consumer population becoming more and more tech-savvy, and with the technological excellence that has led to safe, secure, reliable, and satisfactory online transactions in the recent past, most people prefer to avoid the chaotic crowd of shopping malls, and opt for shopping from the comfort of their homes.

The Internet was once an option, and is now a necessity. Likewise, the virtual market has become more than a facility; it is now, in fact, a necessity. With irresistible advantages such as 24X7 access to shopping, free shipment, and home delivery, the online retailers have managed to acquire some loyal customers. Forrester Research state that the United States online retail industry is likely to be worth USD 279 billion in 2015.

Factors That Have Made Online Shopping a Trend

From the 90s till now, gradually people have accepted virtual shopping to be an easy and affordable way to get hold of things ranging from luxury items such as smartphones and laptops, to everyday items such as grocery and stationery. More and more stores are opening their own websites to enable consumers to shop online. There are various external factors that have contributed to the rising inclination towards virtual shopping.

The Social Media: While browsing through social network sites such as Facebook, have you noticed the ads that are displayed on the right hand corner of the webpage … attracting you towards the trendy branded clothes, jewelry, scents, and footwear? With sellers joining the social networking sites and creating their own pages, a study shows that almost 60% of online buyers used social media to discover, like, and follow retail sites in the past year. This strategy definitely helps increase the pace of product exposure with features such as like, share, recommend a friend, reviews, and more.

Smartphones and Tablets: With the increasing user base of smartphones and tablets, online shopping is not just confined to sitting in front of a PC. If you know what you want, shopping can be done while eating your lunch, while traveling to your work … while on the move! Another survey depicts that almost 10-15% of Internet traffic comes through mobile devices. A trend known as “show rooming” has been on the up lately. The buyers visit the physical retail stores to check out the products, browse the products online, compare prices, check the reviews on the websites, and buy the same product from an online retailer offering the best deal. Mobile apps of these retail stores also help the consumers know about the latest stock and sale going on, subsequently increasing the customer database and sales.

Crowded Shopping Destinations: While researching on shopping trends during Black Fridays, I came across various consumers who preferred shopping online rather than going out in the crowd with no parking spaces! This just shows that customers not only find it more comfortable, but also less chaotic to shop online rather than traveling all the way to the rushed shopping destinations, especially during sales. This drift has encouraged physical stores to focus more towards their service and hospitality to make customers’ shopping experience more comfortable and satisfactory.

Tech-savvy Users: Another contributing factor towards the hype in online shopping, is the majority of population becoming increasingly tech savvy. A fair amount of credit goes to the effort of sellers making online shopping not only a comfortable, but an overall safe and fun experience with alluring features such as cash on delivery, free home delivery, replacement plans, low price guarantee, gift cards, customer reviews, and more. In fact, many online retailers also give consumers an option to try their selected clothes, apparels, and footwear at home, and offer to do the necessary changes. There are also customer service numbers which enable the consumers to contact these retailers to clarify their queries. With all these features, online shopping has made the experience less complicated and tiresome for the users.

No Geographical Limitations: The one factor that has worked the most in favor of virtual shopping is the fact that users have multiple options that are not confined to any geographical boundaries, as is the case with physical stores. For example, if a book you need is not available in your city, you have no other option but to wait. In case of online shopping, if one website doesn’t have that book in stock, you will definitely get it on other websites. Also, online retail stores give you an option to set an e-mail alert when the product is in stock, so that you may complete your purchase.

What Lies Ahead …

By analyzing the aforementioned factors, it is evident that the virtual trend of shopping would only flourish in the near future. Unless the bricks-and-mortar stores don’t adapt to recent trends in e-commerce, and prepare themselves for the competitive strategies to attract online buyers, the future of traditional shopping seems to be under a potential threat. It is inevitable that online stores will have to become a compulsory feature of each and every traditional store that wants to be in the competition. In fact, a business website―which was an “added feature” till the recent past―has now become a prerequisite. Each and every business, other than retail stores is launching user-friendly and attractive websites to enable their customers to ask queries, make appointments, sales, cancellations, and the like, all through the website. With these strategic changes, buying and selling online is transforming from a luxury to a necessity.

Considering online shopping to be a solution for all shopping-related hassles would not be right. Like any other area, virtual market has its own cons, the most important one being the lack of a “physical presence”. At the end of the day, we humans are social beings, and shopping is considered by many, a means to socialize. It is normal for us to want the presence of someone who would approve with our choices, or help us make the right choice among the many options before us. Virtual shopping makes us “physically” more isolated.

Who would’ve thought, a few years ago, that the Internet would evolve from being something physically non-existent, to something that has now become an integral part of all the dominating aspects of our physical lives? The unlimited access that the Internet has provided to its users has made them more aware about the market. When it comes to online shopping, the most powerful marketing tool―the word of mouth―is what works the best. With social media, mobile apps, review sites, and sharing features, online buyers have become significant contributors in the total sales revenue. The target of the market is to find buyers and follow them where they are. Promotional ads and coupons are sent to consumers online; while offline, mobile messages are steadily delivered to their inbox, keeping them aware about what is “in store” for them. The world is functioning the quick and smart way, and e-commerce is a perfect example for reaching out to consumers even while they are busy and on the move.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet Shopping

You open the latest edition of Vogue on your way to office and browse through all those eligible wardrobe additions. Suddenly, you land on these awesome pair of Gucci pumps that you immediately fall in love with. You check for the code and the item number, and surf the Internet with it. You like them better in the color blue. You check the price and it seems just perfect for those perfect pumps. You check the stores in your city and hope just one store would sell these. To your disappoint and the brands’ as well, there is no store that would help you. However, there is one store in the next state that would still have them in stock. What do you do now? You shop for them via the Internet. Simple! Since it’s so simple, there are more and more people shopping on the Internet. The increase in these online shopping trends brings us to the advantages and disadvantages mentioned below. As you continue reading, you will come across some problems you must have experienced on your own. It is these problems that need a solution to make Internet shopping one of the best ways to shop.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Shopping

There is nothing that could ever put an end to Internet shopping, and there is just one reason that people will continue shopping via the Internet, irrespective of the drawbacks. The human need to satisfy a want is stronger than we think. Just like those Gucci pumps made you buy them, there are many others too. When you want something and know you can have it through the Internet, if nothing else, so be it!

Advantages:

Yes, it is an absolute relief to shop sans those irritating vendors. I have nothing against vendors, but they need to understand that they can’t disturb women when they are shopping. You somehow just lose the focus! However, apart from the riddance from vendors, there are more advantages of Internet shopping, as follows

– The best part about Internet shopping is the convenience it provides to the person shopping. Usually, you need to visit a few malls before you find what you have been looking for. On the Internet, you just have to sit in one place and search for what you want until you find it. You get what you want, delivered right to your doorstep. You save money of fuel, the problem of parking your car somewhere, and various other issues. When you shop on the Internet, you don’t have to actually plan your shopping trip as such. If it’s something urgent, you can order it when you’re in office itself!
– When you visit a particular store during your shopping trip, you see the amount of clothes that are possibly going to fit in that store. Any store, selling any number of brands, can sell so only for a limited number. On the Internet, you have unlimited variety and unlimited number of those items too. There is no such thing as ‘out of stock’ on the Internet. If it is shown on the website, it’s available. There is no limited shelf space as such and thus, there is no disappointment.
– When we talk about the advantages and disadvantages of Internet shopping, we have to talk about this one particular advantage. If you have to buy a pair of pants, you will go to the mall and check out a few stores. When you visit the first store, you like what they have to offer but you think you can get better. So you travel some more and visit a few more stores. In the end, you realize that you have to buy from the first shop itself as those were indeed the best out of the lot. This advantage of easy comparison is possible only when you’re shopping online.
– Agreed that you can exchange and return your clothes if you shop from a mall and even if you shop online, if obviously the policies allow so. However, there is no way you can exchange or return what you buy on the days when the stores are closed. This again, you don’t have to worry about with Internet shopping. The exchanging and returning can be done almost anytime you wish to.

Disadvantages:

While talking about these advantages and disadvantages from a customer’s perspective, it’s very important for you to know that there isn’t any grave drawback of Internet shopping. Yes, it does get boring when you shop alone, and have no opinions when you just need them. Or the fact that you will always need a computer to shop online.

– The first thing we need to talk about here is the disclosure of private information. It is very difficult to convince people when it comes to this. You have to shop with your debit or credit card, and have to provide your card details when you shop online. This information is available to the company from whom you buy. Though hardly any companies are frauds, it’s still some valuable information.
– The next drawback of Internet shopping (only in respect to clothes) is that of the fitting. There is no way you can be absolutely sure about how a particular dress or shirt will look on you in reality. There are virtual models on almost each website, but you just can’t ever be sure. This problem doesn’t come in the picture when you talk about shopping other stuff on the Internet, such as airline tickets (which also happen to be one of the hottest selling items on the Internet as of today.)
– It is said that Internet shopping has just started affecting the employment of people at malls and individual stores as well. The problem here is that the forecast says this effect will increase in impact in a few more years. There will be high unemployment in this sector due to Internet shopping. You don’t need people to show you around or to help you select a particular item you need to buy.
– Another drawback here is that people have to pay extra costs for ordering items from another state of country. These include shipping costs too. In most eastern countries, not all the luxury brands are available. People have to pay extra to order them from abroad. Sometimes, there are taxes applicable on these transactions as well.

These were some of the advantages and disadvantages of Internet shopping, that tell you how it isn’t very unsafe to shop on the web. Problems prevail everywhere, even when you shop personally at a store. The convenience and the variety are the two biggest advantages you need to focus on. After all, if you don’t get your stuff anywhere but from the Internet, you surely can’t let go of it, can you?

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Not just the trend of buying goods and availing services online, but even the frauds associated with it are on rise. Technological advancement has given a major boost to e-commerce and other similar concepts, which revolve around computers and, more importantly, the Internet. The concept of online shopping is no more alien to anybody in the world.

Millions of people log onto shopping websites in order to make shopping a convenient affair. What they fail to understand though, is the fact that they are compromising on their security by not abiding by the rules that they need to follow. With so many cases of online frauds coming to light every other day, it is surprising to see people go on an online shopping spree without paying heed to their security.

Online Shopping Safety Tips

Online shopping fraud is a broad concept, which includes a range of activities, right from hidden charges and phishing to credit card scams and identity theft. Given below are some simple precautions that you can take to keep yourself safe.

Carry out your transactions from a secured PC: You need to make sure that the PC you are using for shopping online and related transactions is up-to-date with security measures, like anti-virus software and firewall. Being one of the most important advice as far as safe online shopping is concerned, this will help you keep those malicious programs out of your transactions.

Be well-versed with the website you use: You need to make sure that the website from which you are buying goods or availing services is authentic. Never go to random sites that feature in search engine results, or ones that you have never heard of before. Always go for popular websites, as the chances of you getting caught in any sort of web of deceit on such websites are negligent.

Never give away your personal information: You will have to provide some information while shopping online, however, you need to make sure that this is just the general information, like your name or contact number. Never give out confidential information, like your social security number, on online shopping websites. More importantly, never fill in any sort of information in pop-up windows, even if you trust the website. Maintaining privacy while shopping online is a must, as giving away confidential information can make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Go through the privacy policy of the company: A trusted website is bound to have its privacy policy covering all the points whereby the website would be legally bound to keep your personal details confidential and giving away the same to the third party would mean breach of contract with possible legal implications. If any website doesn’t have their privacy policy in place, it is better off to stay away from it.

Paying by credit card is wiser: Always resort to credit card for payment options. Though many of us prefer to use debit cards for shopping online, they don’t have all the security features that credit cards do. More importantly, if your debit card number gets stolen, it will give hackers total access to your account and result in even more difficult situations for you.

Before you order the product: You need to make sure that the transactions are secured and the shipping policy of the company is in the place. Cross checking the actual price of the product and the shipping charges with other companies can help you get the best deal. Make sure that there are no hidden costs in the shipping charges. You will have to take into consideration the actual price of the item as well as shipping charges, handling fees, and sales tax.

After you order the product: Never reply to confirmation mails which ask for your personal details. Make sure that you take the print outs of all the online transaction records, which you can eventually use as proof. Other than all your transactions with the company, it is wise to save the product description as well. Lastly, you will have to monitor the time required for shipping. It is very important to get well-versed with terms and conditions before you buy any product online.

If, by chance, you do end up having a bad experience, you can report the company to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the consumer protection agency in your area of jurisdiction. Considering that there are a number of phishing websites out there in the guise of shopping websites, it will take efforts from all of us to come together and make online shopping safe and secure.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/safe-online-shopping-tips.html

Maintaining Privacy While Shopping Online

You may not be aware of it, but there is currently no legislation that requires website owners and sellers to maintain the privacy of site visitors who shop online or order merchandise from them. Because there are no laws preventing it, sellers are free to collect your name, address, information about the websites and site pages you visit, what types of products or services you buy, what time of day you shop online, the address you ship items to, what shipping service you use, and even how much you typically spend on an online purchase. Sellers may use the information they collect about purchasers by selling it to other companies or sharing it with affiliates. As a result of losing this private information, you will most likely receive more direct-mail marketing, spam e-mails, and/or telemarketer calls.

Losing privacy is a major concern that consumers are worried about in terms of shopping online. In response to these concerns, government regulators are encouraging website sellers to clearly state on their websites what their privacy policies are, and how they will use information gathered from buyers. If you visit a site that does not have a posted privacy policy, you should think twice before placing an order with that site. A privacy policy should include the type of information the seller will gather based on your transaction, and how the seller is planning to use the information gathered. A privacy policy should offer you the option to decline acceptance (‘opt out’) of these policies. If you want to opt out, you should read the privacy policy thoroughly and look for instructions about how to opt out of accepting the policies.

But having a privacy policy posted online doesn’t necessarily protect you and keep your information private. Although you may be reassured by seeing a logo or seal of an independent monitoring agency that seemingly promises a private, secure transaction, you should also read the policy. Monitoring organizations may not dictate the privacy policy site owners must follow; they may only require the seller to abide by the privacy policy they have in place, whether or not it is a good policy. These organizations are usually not liable for anything if a seller does not follow the terms of its posted privacy policy. So if you see a monitoring organization’s logo on a website, you may want to visit the website of that agency to see how trustworthy they are and what kind of monitoring they do.

Many online sites contain programming codes that insert small files―’cookies’―onto your computer’s hard drive. Some websites require cookies for visitors to use the site or make purchases; some are used simply to identify site visitors; and some cookies are useful because they keep you from having to re-enter the same personal information every time you visit the site. But other ‘invisible’ cookies can actually keep track of the various websites you visit, the searches you do, the amount of time you spend on certain sites, and some can even obtain your e-mail address by the transactions you do online. Marketers can use this information to specifically tailor advertisements they send you. These cookies are typically referred to as ‘adware’. Another type of invisible cookie, ‘spyware’, is added to your computer when you go to download certain free programs or spend time on certain websites. These programs are not as harmless as regular cookies; although they can keep track of your online activities, they can also be used by marketers to track what you actually type, including personal information, without you knowing it.

Your web browser has preference settings to allow you to limit, or prevent, sites from installing cookies on your computer. There are also good software or even freeware programs that you can install, and they can warn you about any website that attempts to install cookies, spyware, or adware on your computer. You can choose to accept, refuse, or control these installations using the tools contained in the software. Some anti-virus packages contain these programs, and some ISPs offer them along with their service packages. For ultimate protection, you may want to install a ‘firewall’ to prevent unwanted intrusions on your computer.

When you purchase an item from an online seller, often they will offer to send you a confirmation e-mail detailing the transaction. Before agreeing to this confirmation e-mail, be sure to read the seller’s privacy policy so you will know how their procedure is handled. You do not necessarily need a confirmation e-mail as proof of purchase or proof of payment; usually you can simply print the final screen that appears at the end of your transaction, so you will have a record of the purchase.

Keeping a grip on personal information related to your activities online is just as important as keeping a grip on financial information you enter when making an online purchase. There are always unscrupulous people and companies watching every move website visitors make, and the information they collect can totally ruin your Internet experiences as well as risk ruining your identity offline. So before you click that Pay Now button to get a great deal, take a few minutes to read the site’s privacy policies and be sure you know what you’re signing up for.