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5 tips to improve your online shopping experience

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Fri Jul 25 2014


ONLINE shopping has changed the way we shop forever – but it’s still important to keep safety in mind. Trinity College Foundation Studies students Crystal Teoh, Tiorentina and Robin Ong share some tips.

Online shopping is undeniably one of the greatest gifts the internet has given us. From the latest fashion accessories to groceries, online shopping allows consumers to shop from the comforts of just about anywhere – so long as you have access to the internet.

We surveyed a small group of Trinity College Foundation Studies students – 10 males and 10 females – and found 95% of them shop online. On average, they purchase something once every month or two months.

Students mostly faced problems regarding the quality and size. Even though all of the students have never experienced any problems regarding online safety and security, it remains a huge concern for most.

Here are five tips to help make the most of your time (and money!) spent while shopping online.

1. Use reliable websites

Before you start browsing online, do ensure that the website you are on is credible, as a less-than-trustworthy website could be retailing counterfeit goods, or worse, use your personal information for other purposes.

“I would be suspicious buying thing things from company that I don’t know about or has a low reputation,” Trinity College Melbourne’s Chaplain Chris Carolane told Meld.

Reputable online stores such as eBay, Amazon, ASOS and Book Depository are more likely to be credible. If you can’t find a review for a website, just ask a friend or someone you know who shops online often.

2. Check the ratings

Worried about the quality of the makeup palette you’re thinking of getting before clicking “purchase”? Why not get comments from the people who have already bought the product? Checking the ratings of an item helps minimise the risk of paying for a low quality item.

If you’re using a buy and sell website like eBay, be sure to check the ratings for both the item and the seller.

Trinity student Wendy Hung shares her experience on bad quality products.

“I bought a set of nail art brushes online and they were broken when I opened it,” she told Meld.

While online shopping is convenient, one should also be prudent and do adequate research so your purchase is absolutely value for money.

3. Be smart about sizing

The downside of online shopping is that you can’t actually see or try on the product in person. Even though some websites do offer size guides, sizes may vary for different clothing items.

Trinity student Natalie Phay says, “If I find myself on the fence on sizes, it’s usually just go with the bigger size.”

4. Check the returns policy

Like a brick-and-mortar store, some online shops do accept returns and refunds. Some stores offer free returns while some require you to pay for the return. Online shopping websites also usually have a limited amount of days for returns. Websites like offer free returns within 100 days.

It is important to check every store’s returns policy as it varies – and you never know if that pair of shoes will fit properly, so be wise!

5. Pay safely

Most online stores only accept payments made by credit or debit cards. Giving out privileged information can be worrying. We spoke to Trinity College Foundation Studies Student Support Officer Piumali Jayasuriya for some advice on this issue.

“Paying through secure websites like PayPal is appropriate,” she said.

Companies like PayPal help online consumers pay for their goods without sharing any financial details with the seller.

Often, online stores are happy to accept payment through PayPal as well. If they don’t offer it as an option, it may be worth writing in to them to find out.