With the proliferation of mobile and internet connectivity, consumers are taking to searching, researching and buying products and services online. Buying online these days is cheaper, easier, more secure than ever before. Many products are also online-exclusive, not available via conventional brick-and-mortar stores. Online stores and marketplaces have come and gone, but one that is my current favourite is 11street, launched here last year.
First established South Korea in 2008, it’s grown rapidly to become one of the top global e-commerce platforms with over 400,000 sellers serving 30 million consumers globally. The secret to its success is its breadth of offerings, “Shocking Deals” section, myriad payment options and excellent customer service.
Online shopping is a growing trend, and yet only accounts for less than 3% of total retail spend, in Malaysia. So we’re only really at the tip of the iceberg.
When talking about shopping, a couple of things come to mind. How’s the selection of items? How competitive is pricing? How is the user experience of the site? How credible is the site? Is it safe? Is the product information accurate and dependable?
All valid questions. And data research reflects these concerns. A 2015 report revealed that most common reasons for preferring online shopping were price and flexibility (62%). Malaysians tend to look out for the best deals by researching online. At 70%, that’s one of the highest rates in Southeast Asia.
Security is a huge factor when it comes to spending money online. From January to July last year, over RM1 billion was stolen through cybercrime in Malaysia. That makes us sixth highest in the world for online fraud. Having said that, by taking some basic steps, you can have a worry-free shopping experience at your favourite online destination.
To further enhance your shopping experience, here are five awesome tips to shopping smart, and shopping better.
[nextpage title=”#1 Coupon love, digital deals”]
Keep a look out for discount coupons, complimentary credits or free digital downloads offered at online marketplaces. They’re usually snapped up quickly due to their limited and exclusive nature, so be sure to check back often. Better still, subscribe to email newsletters to keep updated with the latest offers. I’ve come across discount coupons offering as high as 90% off retail prices, which is pretty crazy.
Don’t ignore rewards for recommending or referring friends and family to online shopping sites, too. Sharing has its perks. I mean, if you come across a great deal, won’t you want to share it with people you love?
[nextpage title=”#2 Buy from who you trust”]
It’s important to buy from established online marketplaces and stores. It can be a dangerous world out there if you don’t exercise caution. It does sound cliché, but if it looks suspicious and a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Without sounding too technical, ensure that the site you are buying from offers secure payment standards like PCI DSS and encrypted SSL sessions.
It does help to do a quick background check on the site’s background and business model. Check out what people are saying online and via social channels.
Also, see if the site offers a return/exchange policy and if they list contact details like email, webchat and toll-free support numbers.
Some sites also offer ESCROW services where they serve as a gatekeeper between the merchant and buyer. It ensures that buyers receive their products before payment is made to respective merchants.
[nextpage title=”#3 It pays to be mobile”]
Several well-known sites offer mobile-only discounts and bonuses for users. Look out for these. Offers and promos are pushed to mobile app users and won’t be available anywhere else.
I know, we’ve all succumbed to impulse buying, but hey, a good deal is a good deal. And via mobile, it could be a great deal.
So download those shopping apps for free, and browse away.
[nextpage title=”#4 Research, research, research”]
Online shopping is fast and easy. And that’s the way it should be. But doesn’t mean we should blindly buy. With the wealth of information out there, let’s make informed buying decisions. I mean, nothing’s worse than regretting a purchase, even if it seemed a good buy at first.
This can only happen by doing research. And it’s a rich world out there – product literature, customer comments, product reviews. Many sites also offer a user rating system, which lets users rate a product/service, as well as for the site proper.
There’s really no excuse for not doing research. If all else fails, ask friends and family; get feedback on social channels and online forums.
[nextpage title=”#5 International, done local”]
The web has broken down geographic and logistic barriers. Having said that, not everything sold overseas is available locally. And even if they are purchasable, they may come with a heavy price tag and overseas shipping costs.
Several online marketplaces, however, imports overseas products and make them available to Malaysian consumers. This is an added bonus to consumers who will now have an alternative route to purchase hard-to-get or exclusive overseas items.
What’s also important is that there’s a reliable and convenient delivery tracking service so you know at all times where and when your order is shipped.
Online shopping is an exciting, fulfilling experience, but do play your cards right. Follow the tips above and you should be a smart shopper in no time. Stick to credible online marketplaces like 11street, that not only offers crazy deals and discount coupons, but also attentive and professional customer service.