How to Shop online safely

How to Shop online safely

Time is money they say and digital shopping is clearly saving us some good amount of time and money. Imagine the hustle of running around between stores, across streets window shopping or actually shopping in between office hours. Too much hustle, right? When just at the click of a button, you can visit different shops while taking lunch at your office desk, from the comfort of your bed or in a matatu. So much convenience, so economical, less time wasting and so much fun. Only a shopaholic would understand the fun part.

However, like every great thing, it comes with a risk. So, how do you shop online safely?

Pay on delivery

Do not be one of the very many Kenyans who have sent money only for the seller to go mute after. Make your payment only if you have seen your item and confirmed that it is what you had ordered. I commend Jumia for their impressive Pay on delivery services.  Double check the quantity and the quality of the item.

Meet with your seller in a public place

For deliveries, always meet with your seller or the courier in a public place or in the presence of a friend or relative. They have been so many cases of people being conned when their items are being delivered. By all means do not let in strangers into your house, if they have to deliver to your home, let it be at your doorstep or at the gate.

Research on your seller online

This is key. You can tell a lot from their profiles. Do they have an active timeline, do they have friends or followers, and has their page been in existent for a while? It is quite impossible for a Facebook newbie to start an online shop without having been on Facebook for a while to learn how to do business on Facebook or at least build up a friend list.

Look up their websites and blogs if any. Browse through and check out if they have a physical location and active contacts. You want to be able to reach them in case of anything.

Use groups like Buyer Beware to research your seller. And if you are ever conned, blast them out on Social media to help other unsuspecting buyers not to fall prey to their conniving ways.

Again, rely mostly on referrals. Online fraud is real.

Use Familiar websites

Only shop with familiar websites that have already gained trust and loyalty from its audiences.  Websites like Amazon, Jumia, Killimall, OLX, eBay and the likes. Check out their reviews from other buyers. Websites that can afford to advertise are worth buying from.

On websites, check for SSL( Secure Sockets Layer), especially when buying with your credit card. How do you know if it’s SSL encrypted? If the site’s URL starts with  HTTPS://  and has a locked padlock icon at the bottom of your browser in the status bar, or at the address bar next to the URL. The ‘S’ in the HTTPS simply means its secure

For Social media, do your due diligence on the sellers. You can check their page and see when the page was created, how many followers so far, are there any reviews, check their comments to see if there are any negative comments in terms of their products, services and delivery. Watch out for sellers who insist on divulging information on the inbox only and for products insist on payment upon delivery. Always ask for referrals from groups and friends when shopping. It’s the safest way.

Always ensure that you confirm your item choice, pricing, quantity required, color and fitting before delivery. If you can, visit their physical location to pick out the item

Be stingy with personal information

Do not give out personal information like your ID number, pins and passwords for your credit cards or any other payment methods. Do not send them on email or send screenshots. Fraudsters have a very cunning way of getting information out of you, Beware.

Compare prices

However much online shopping is convenient, some sellers are ripping off people by exaggerating the prices. Compare prices between online shops and even physical shops before making any purchases. Check if their offers and deals are worth it.

Go ahead and shop, but with the above tips in mind. Remember, as the number of online shops increases, so do fraudsters, and the risks of online shopping.

Happy online shopping people.

Daisy Chepkoech is a Freelance Blog Writer, Social Media Manager and Trainer. She is also the Marketing Director at Dake Business Solutions.  Daisy holds a Bachelors degree in Communication and Media Technology from Maseno University.