Online shopping has completely changed the way we shop. With Amazon’s long-anticipated launch in Australia this week there is an even greater expectation that people will choose to shop from home rather than visit retail stores.
When it comes to fashion, the options seem endless with promises of greater choice, cheaper prices, fast delivery and trouble-free exchanges.
But just how easy is it – and what are the pitfalls?
The detractors have concerns about correct sizing, being unable to touch and feel the item, waiting too long for delivery, and the safety of online payments.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), its Scamwatch service has this year received more than 1000 reports of online shopping scams worth more than $150,000 in total. It recommends online shoppers do their research and be aware of stores’ policies. For unknown sites the ACCC says ways to confirm legitimacy are checking customer reviews and examining the site itself:
– Closely examine the site content for errors (spelling mistakes, grammar issues)
– Check the contact page (all sites should have contact information. Avoid those that don’t)
– Visit a company’s Facebook page to check customer service response times
– Check for “https://” in the URL
– Check the company ABN at http://abr.business.gov.au/
According to research by Finder.com.au, The Iconic, Asos, and Misguided come in as the top three shopping sites that Australians are using. All three sites are secure and recommended by online shoppers. These stores are preferred by shoppers looking for easy refunds and fast delivery.
Online refunds were once a rarity, with most stores offering exchanges or store credits. But more stores now offer refunds for change of mind and for simply not liking the way an item fits.
And if you are one of the many last-minute shoppers who doesn’t like waiting for your order to arrive, express shipping has become more affordable when shopping in Australia and even free if you spend over a certain amount. A growing number of online stores offer three-hour (maximum five hours) shipping, depending on location and time of purchase. This means by simply placing an order at work using three-hour shipping you are able to have your parcel on your doorstep by the time you get home.
One of the first times this was seen was on the Australian site, The Iconic. This Sydney-based online retailer offers everything fashion and stocks over 700 brands and 50,000 items. It is a recognised trusted and secure site. It offers full cost-free refunds, 30-day returns, and store credits – depending on what you prefer.
Most Australian stores such as Glue store, Glassons and Bardot have online platforms that allow for easy online shopping, and simple returns, as you can opt to take them to a physical store or send items back through the post.
Research by the ACCC found Australians aged 18 to 24 made up the biggest group of people who reported losing money to online shopping scammers.
Regular online shopper Jess, 20, advises others to be wary of unknown sites.
“I try and only shop from sites I’ve heard of, due to previous bad experiences, like getting my item and it looking nothing like the image on the website,” she says.
“If I could give any advice, don’t shop from websites directly out of China where clothing costs $5 because you won’t receive quality or what the product image looks like.”
Elisa, 19, believes online shopping is the way of the future.
“Online stores are actually my go-to,” she says.
“I never find anything in stores and plus its so much cheaper shopping online.”
The ACCC advises that if you are asked to pay using a money order, pre-loaded money card, or wire transfer it is a potential sign that of a scam.
And remember, if you’re planning on shopping online throughout the Christmas period shipping times may be slightly delayed due to the high amount of orders. – Laura Foggetti