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Online shopping is now everybody’s favourite pastime. While a certain percentage of the population resisted its allure before, nobody could deny just how convenient it is during the pandemic. Nearly every industry has transitioned to virtual stores, and there’s almost nothing you cannot order online today. From food and hardware tools to plants and collectables, you’re sure to find an enticing deal with just a few taps on your phone.

That said, there’s also no denying that the number of horror stories surfacing online about traumatic bargains has increased. In the end, if the vacuum cleaner you ordered for a third of its original price turned out to be dysfunctional, you only have yourself to blame.

How do you make sure that you steer clear of scammers and get the best value for your money online? Fortunately for you, the answer is simple. It requires a little more effort, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be online shopping like a pro.

Stick to Established Websites

While you’researching Google for the best gifts for your niece, you might find yourself on a parenting website that has inconspicuous links redirecting you to sellers. This is the work of a search engine optimisation company, most of the time, which means that the seller has paid them to make their products more visible to people combing the web for ideas or solutions. Don’t fret–this practice is normal nowadays. What you should focus on are the website itself and its following.

How long has it been active? Who’s running it? Are there visible interactions with its followers, like comment sections per article? If you do a little snooping around and find a credible website, feel more relaxed to click on the links to check out their recommendations. Websites with established followings and impressive tenures are less likely to collaborate with companies that might get them in trouble.

Always Check the Reviews

You have to be grateful to all the consumers who take the time to post detailed reviews of certain products and services–photographs and videos included. Whether the seller posts all their customers’ reviews on their website, there is always a blog or two that will give you an idea of their performance.

Type the company’s name or product and add “customer review” on your search engine, and voila! Unfiltered reviews you can refer to. Just manage your expectations, though, because not even the big corporations are unscathed by negative reviews. There will always be one, two, or ten in the mix. The key is to look for patterns so that you have a good idea of what you’ll be getting from this seller.

Look for Their Digital Wallet Services

Are they using Amazon or PayPal? While no digital payment channel is completely foolproof, these two are known for their strict regulations to ensure consumer safety. Merchants that use these channels have a higher chance of being legitimate sellers that conduct their businesses fairly, especially in terms of payments.

Do your research and find which virtual payment channels transact safely and securely this 2021. This should give you a fairly good idea of the merchant’s standing when you check out their payment options.

Be Aware of Third-party Sellers

Are the stores you frequent selling through larger corporations like Amazon and eBay? There are pros and cons to this, particularly in terms of shipping and refund. If the umbrella company has established a good reputation, you might find that dealing with substandard products is easier to manage. The third-party seller will help you reach a resolution with the primary merchant, and getting your money back could be guaranteed faster. If these things aren’t included in the policies of the third-party seller, then you might want to double think about your decision before finalising the purchase.

Go for Authorised Resellers

When buying appliances, computers, and similar investments, you’ll want to make sure that you’re buying from authorised resellers. If you don’t, then warranties and added perks may not be available to you when approaching the manufacturer.

You can verify this by searching the seller’s website for a badge or going straight to the manufacturer’s website to skim through their list of authorised resellers.

It Takes Practice

Believe it or not, even online shopping takes practice to perfect. Even then, you’ll have to continually update yourself with the changing trends to stay safe from scammers. Don’t be discouraged, though! Many legitimate sellers are waiting to be discovered, and once you do find them, you’ll be more confident of adding to your cart and checking out quickly.