In the fast -paced, busy, digital age of today, everyone's looking for the easiest way to do things. And catering to this ease, are businesses who are online and provide doorstep delivery for everything possibly imaginable. Grocery, apparel, accessory, furniture… you name it and it is available online, with a variety of options to choose from. And now, for the most surprising part - you can shop even at night. The world may be fast asleep, but your shop is open 24X7! You couldn't have asked for more! But with anything new, comes plenty of doubts. Where, How, What…? That's precisely why here's a guide to help you go about the right way and shop like a boss.

Shop Smart:

Just as in the real world, online portals too offer varied prices and deals for the same product. With the online market, you have the biggest benefit of being able to nail the best bargain easily within minutes. All you need to do is search the web and compare prices across a range of sites. So you may have to spend some extra time scouring through multiple sites to make sure that you have chosen the best piece for the best price. What's more, nowadays, for a lot of product categories, you will also find sites that actually serve this purpose - that of comparing products across different sites.

Cut the additional costs:

Once you are done with shopping and move to the payment process, you might find some additional charges like Shipping/Delivery Charges, Handling fees etc. Sometimes, these charges add up and take the total cost back to the pre-deal price! The best way to cut down on the shipping costs and handling fees is to make payment online using your debit card or credit card. When you opt for Cash on Delivery (COD), you may be liable to pay cash handling fees which is not refundable at the time of return.

Never lose out on great deals:

Signing up on e-commerce sites with your email Id gives you the advantage of receiving important notifications on deals and ongoing sale. Certain sites also offer exclusive deals to registered members. If online shopping is the way for you, then it is best to register with a separate email Id created just for that purpose. While registering with your existing email ID may seem to do the job just fine, the flurry of promotional mails could crowd your inbox, mix with your other emails, and result in you missing out on an important update. Having a separate account works in your favour, especially if you have your heart set on something, and you don’t want to keep checking different sites. When a great deal strikes, the update will sit right in your inbox.

User reviews are valuable:

When shopping virtually, you don’t have the privilege to see, touch or inspect the product. That's when User Reviews become your source of dependable product information! Although you may have a 3D image of the product to help you comprehend the look, when it comes to the color and texture, you cannot solely depend on the image. Reading through the comments provides you a real perspective on the product’s quality, feel and most importantly, its value. That being said, you’ll need to keep an open mind as there might be a few fake or even paid comments. So while you take the review comments into consideration, remember not to put all your money on them.

Give the return policy a second glance:

Since you can only experience the product virtually, retailers are compensating for this drawback with a return policy. While there are retailers who categorize some products as non returnable items, there are some that do not accept returns at all! This makes the return policy especially important. Remember to read between the lines. Look for: what is the time period for return, are there any applicable charges, can you make an exchange, can returns be made in store and if there is a restocking fee. If it is not explicitly clear on the site, call the company first to get the details right.

Cautionary tips

Every time you visit a retail site be sure to check for: misspellings and top-level domain. This could speak volumes about their credibility

  • Always double check the deals that sound too good to be true or urge you to make the purchase! You wouldn’t want to fall prey to the online scams.
  • Look for the security lock on the top left of the address bar. The SSL (secure sockets layer) ensures that your information is encrypted. Never use your debit card or credit card  on a site that has no padlock icon.
  • If it’s your first time shopping online, it is probably best to start with familiar sites.

The online world has a platter of options, enhanced convenience, and is secure. No wonder the country is going digital! And now, you can go digital like a boss.

And while you are online, check out other related articles.

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Disclaimer: This Article is for information purposes only. The views expressed in this Article do not necessarily constitute the views of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (“Bank”) or its employees. The Bank makes no warranty of any kind with respect to the completeness or accuracy of the material and articles contained in this Article. The information contained in this Article is sourced from empaneled external experts for the benefit of the customers and it does not constitute legal advice from the Bank. The Bank, its directors, employees and the contributors shall not be responsible or liable for any damage or loss resulting from or arising due to reliance on or use of any information contained herein. Tax laws are subject to amendment from time to time. The above information is for general understanding and reference. This is not legal advice or tax advice, and users are advised to consult their tax advisors before making any decision or taking any action.