If you are raring to go this festive season, here are a few tried and tested tips to help you avoid online shopping pitfalls.
Tis the season to be jolly and sweetening the winters is Google's big shopping party the Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) 2014 that is on at the moment. The internet is literally abuzz with discounts as thousands of e-commerce websites, brands and online stores are beckoning you to indulge in some good old retail therapy. With so many attractive discounts on offer, you may just want to play Santa for yourself and grab a few things you have had your eyes on!
But that having said, you also need to tread with caution before you decide to part with your cash on such deals.
In 2013, the GOSF attracted 2 million visitors and it is only getting bigger and better this year! There's good news for credit card issuers as well, as data from the RBI shows that credit card spend in the country has gone up to Rs 44,980 crore till the end of June 2014 registering a growth of 8 per cent from Rs 41,861 crore in the year ago period.
Online sale festivals such as these are expected to give a further boost to these numbers.
For those who shop online regularly, this is a great opportunity to get some substantial discounts and lay their hands on products that were earlier too expensive or beyond their budgets. But in a bid to grab the opportunity, many online shopaholics make some crucial mistakes that may cost them dearly later! If you are raring to go this festive season, here are a few tried and tested tips to help you avoid online shopping pitfalls.
Stick to the well known websites
A shopping festival means new e-commerce players jumping into the bandwagon to prove their worth. This time too, there are bound to be a few new players. However, if you have not shopped with them earlier, we recommend you give them a skip at least this time.
If the deal you are looking at is particularly attractive, make sure you go through the reviews thoroughly. A couple of bad reviews here and there can be ignored, but too many negative reviews on delivery schedules, customer service etc, should be clear signs for you to stay away.
Don't be in a hurry and weigh all your options
Don't jump in the first instance you see discount on a product that you want to get. Spend some time on the internet checking out similar sellers who may be having a better discount on the product, free shipping and a faster delivery schedule. Comparing various websites will help you arrive at the best deal.
Use coupon aggregators
If you have set your heart on a product, chances are others have too, so no sooner than you log on to an e-commerce website, you find yourself staring at an “out of stock” banner! To avoid such a situation, head to coupon aggregating websites. Some of the popular coupon aggregators in India are Coupon Dunia, Coupon Raja and Desi Dime. You are likely to find your favourite product listed here, along with a whole host of sellers who you can purchase it from at a hefty discount.
Use online payment facility for better discounts
A lot of online shoppers still prefer to use the cash on delivery, because they cannot seem to trust the online payment systems. In the GOSF you will, however notice that many shopping websites carry the logo of certain banks over the products. This usually means that you get an extra cash back if you make the payment with a credit/debit card of the particular bank. So if you wish to further sweeten your deals, go ahead and use your cards without fear to make your payments.
It is not for nothing that banks are increasingly partnering with various e-commerce platforms too. Every time you make a purchase online, your bank or credit card company earns substantial revenue too.
On an average it is somewhere between 1 to 1.5 per cent of the total amount of your shopping spend. On the whole, therefore it is a win-win for you as the customer, the lender and the e-commerce portal when you decide to make a purchase with your credit card.
Time for some introspection
With so many good deals floating around, it is understandable that you find it difficult to restrict yourself. But before you make the purchase just because it looks too good to let go off, ask yourself if you really are in need of that product.
For instance, it may be okay to get that extra quilt for guests whom you are expecting during the holiday season, but do you really need to have an extra set of pots and pans just because they are heavily discounted?
You are the best judge of what you really need and what you can do without so spend your hard earned money accordingly.
Online shopping festivals are surely a boon for those who are hooked on to it, but they can sure land you in trouble if you go on a shopping spree when you do not have the wherewithal to support your purchases.
If you do not have the purchasing power right now, don't worry for it's definitely not the end of the world!
With e-commerce sector in India growing in leaps and bounds, there will be hundreds of other shopping festivals that you can participate in the years ahead, so hold for horses for now and end 2014 on a note of saving instead of spending!
Rediff shopping also one of the best Online Shopping sites in India.
The author is a credit expert with 10 years of experience in personal finance and consumer banking industry and another 7 years in credit bureau sector. Rajiv was instrumental in setting up India's first credit bureau, Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL). He has also worked with Citibank, Canara Bank, HDFC Bank, IDBI Bank and Experian in various capacities.