My adventures in online shopping have been almost entirely positive. I have purchased cd's, books, beverages, clothing, shoes, organic food, herbal supplements, baby gifts, fair trade items, natural bath products, cruelty-free cosmetics, electronics, and the list goes on - almost always without a glitch! Online shopping is perfect for someone like me, who gets overwhelmed being out in the world too much, likes to take a little time to weigh my decisions, or sometimes know exactly what I want but do not want to spend a lot of time running around looking for it. Comparison shopping for a better price, or checking out customer reviews is as easy as the click of a button.
Here are a few things I have learned about being a savvy online shopper:
- If you are rarely ever home during the day, it is better to seek out online retailers that offer shipping by postal service (rather than courier)
- If you are shopping outside your own country, be prepared for the occasional unexpected expense (believe it or not, the biggest surprise I've had in this category came while importing some diet soda from the States for a diabetic friend! It was a gift, so I was willing to pay - but beware duty and taxes on even low-cost items!)
- Do read carefully, and remember what it is you are trying to find (I once got distracted while looking for a facial brush - one item was out of stock so I looked at some related items, but ended up buying a full-size body brush by mistake! It didn't look that big in the picture!) ;)
- Do support businesses whose mandates you believe in: your options are widened when shopping online, and it is easier to seek out companies that support fair trade, eco-friendly and cruelty-free practices, use organic ingredients, and so on. I love buying gifts from fair trade websites such as the Hunger Site - and my purchases even donate food to the hungry.
The only time I ever encountered the threat of credit card fraud, it was through a traditional retailer that had decided to broaden itself to including online sales. I received an email notification that my credit card may have been compromised; when I called my bank they advised me just to avoid using the card for awhile. A few years later the retail company went bankrupt - some things you just can't predict.
To reduce the threat of fraud, you may choose to use a credit card with a low credit limit for your online purchases, or use the pre-loaded variety (I've heard that the ones you can buy anywhere are not always accepted online - but you can also get these through your bank - I have used mine without difficulty)
If you want to purchase through an American website but they do not ship to Canada, there is a service called MyUS.com (and probably others) that offer parcel-forwarding services - I have not tried this, but have seen it recommended on websites where I've considered making a purchase.
For my recommendations on where to shop, plus tips on authentic living and making the world a better place, please visit my website www.artsciencespirit.com.