There has been a huge increase in the number of online stores of all kinds as consumers are more willing to make purchases over the world wide web. Each Christmas/holiday season sees the proportion of seasonal spend done over the Internet with shopping cart software increasing.
Shopping Cart Software
With a hosted shopping cart software service, the merchant does not require technical or programming skills. Using a web browser, the merchant can set up his/her own online store on the hosted e-commerce service, add products, product photographs and descriptions, configure delivery options etc. and have the store operational within minutes.
Advice for Customers who Buy Online
Convenience of Online Shopping
From the perspective of the shopper, it is a great timesaver to be able to visit multiple shops within a few minutes online. One can quickly locate suppliers and compare prices. This is a great way of saving time, when you think of the alternative: going around the physical shops. Think of time battling through traffic, looking for parking or queuing for public transport. Furthermore, with online shopping, the products are delivered to your door, and the prices available online can be significantly lower than those in the main street shops. It's no wonder that more and more people are turning to the Internet to do their shopping.
Online shopping using shopping cart software, not only offers good prices, it also gives buyers access to a huge range of products, much larger than their local shops could carry. For many specialist or technical items, online stores using e-commerce solutions may be the only place where a customer can find them.
Your Consumer Rghts
These will depend on where you are located and the local laws that apply. Most countries have consumer protection legistation in force which requires the vendors to either repair or replace goods that are delivered to you in a faulty or damaged condition, or offer you a refund. If delivered by a courier, it is useful to open the transport package and check the item before signing for it. If damage is found after accepting delivery, contact the merchant and arrange to have the item returned. This should be done as soon as possible, as there is usually a short time period within which this must be done to be protected by legislation. A handy reference for consumers in the European Union is the Shopping Online Guide. As a consumer you have certain consumer rights, and buying online actually conveys the same rights as you would have if you bought on the high street, and then further rights associated with online or distance purchasing. Good shopping cart software provides support for the merchant in displaying your rights and entitlments with respect to faulty goods or cancelling an order.
The right to cancel the order may be yours under applicable legislation (e.g. in the European Union, the Distance Selling Directive gives the consumer the right to cancel the order and return goods (if received) within fourteen days of delivery. The consumer may have to pay for the cost of returning the goods. Certain types of goods and services are not covered by this legislation.
Customer may have concerns about not knowing or trusting the online merchant. The vast majority of online merchants want the customer to be satisfied, and want to build a reputation of being reliable and dependable and for offering good customer service. With the advent of social media, any "bad press" for a merchant will quickly affect their sales. Furthermore, consumers will usually have recourse to their credit card companies (where they paid by credit card) whereby in the event of non-delivery of goods, they can, after trying and failing to get satisfaction from the merchant, request that the credit card company make a charge-back. A charge-back is where the credit card company reverses the payment to the merchant, and the consumer gets his/her money back, as it were. This is a strong defence for consumers, and merchants can face additional charges from the card processors if they incur too many charge-backs. For more information: Credit cards and disputes with merchants.
Support the online merchants who are doing a good job, have competitive prices, delivery punctually, and offer good customer support. Recommend them when you can. If you have a Facebook, Twitter or other social media account, or write a blog, do them and your readers a favour and write about your online shopping experiences, and add a hyperlink to the good online stores.