Saturday, October 8, 2011

Online shopping experiences

I recently got my first credit card and started shopping online, perhaps my experiences will encourage others to have a safe and fun shopping experience.

Being outside the United States, United Kingdom or Canada. There are few to none, quality shopping choices. Situation is worse in over-hyped Dubai, at least price wise, other side of the ugly coin is the UAE gets the worse spec'd products.

What's the alternative?
Well ShopandShip.com is the best option at the moment, they give you US, UK and a Chinese shipping address.

Do UAE retailers not care?
Most I think are complacently enjoying their eroding pseudo monopolies, thinking they control channels of distribution and price. That won't last long.

Others are greedy, like the big distributors in the region, I won't name names, because of the ridiculous liable laws in the UAE, which favor big business, employers and curb freedom of speech considerably.

What do I need?
1. Credit card.
2. PayPal (eBay owned), Amazon Payments, Google Checkout or a Moneybookers account.
3. US, UK or Chinese shipping addresses.
4. Amazon US or UK accounts.
5. eBay US or UK accounts.

Amazon Vs eBay - Where should I buy from and which is better?
I've personally bought from both without any big issues, apart for some delay at times. Amazon and eBay both have excellent reputations and consumer protection policies. They reverse transactions when things go wrong.

Amazon
Amazon sells directly and marketplace style like eBay.

Amazon sells in three two ways:

a) Direct - Sold by and fulfilled (warehoused, packaged and shipped) by Amazon.
b) Market place - Sold by vendor and fulfilled (warehoused, packaged and shipped) by Amazon.
c) Market place - Sold by vendor and fulfilled by vendor.

eBay
eBay is a market place (But It Now) and auction model, however their buyer protection applies across their site. All the selling is done by vendors. Fulfillment may be done by Amazon at times.

Summary
Amazon has the better e-commerce platform, site and services in my opinion. However, you'll find good, reputed, trust worthy sellers on both Amazon and eBay.



Tips
1. Pay online with PayPal or Moneybookers if you buy from smaller or lesser known online stores. This way your credit card details aren't spread across (possibly on poorly secured servers) the web.

2. Check delivery addresses on shipments - Mistakes are made with tracking numbers or worse yet shipping addresses.

3. After spending some time playing with your goods (yes there are so many jokes here), provide detailed reviews of your experiences good or bad. How courteous was the seller? How was the packaging? Don't write a bad review about the seller if you subjectively don't like the product or it didn't fit your need. Unless it was broken or something. This is even more important if you buy obscure stuff - This encourages the good merchants and improves or weeds out the bad ones.

4. Get email alerts and filter them in you inbox. Keep the payment confirmations seperate and have different folders for Amazon, eBay or newegg etc. I use nested labels in Gmail to organize this.

Security tips
1. Make sure the padlock on your web browser indicates a secure connection via 'https'.

2. Keep your OS and browser updated with the latest security patches.

3. Avoid doing online transactions on public computers, smart phones, tablets etc.

4. Avoid public wifis for online transitions. Technically it's secure because of https, but if you can wait to get home, then wait.

Related:
Google Checkout vs PayPal vs. Amazon Payments: What's the best eCommerce option? - DigitalFamily.com

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