Buying tech online sounds like it should be a simple, easy process – and in many ways it is. But there are still lots of ways you can make mistakes and end up having a negative online shopping experience. We’ve put together a comprehensive online buying guide, providing you with all the information you need to buy the best branded products at the best prices without falling foul of unsecure websites or misleading descriptions.
Shopping online means that you can’t physically touch or feel the product you want, but times are changing, and there are now new, exciting ways to experience the products you’re interested in. Let’s get started!
When browsing the Ebuyer.com website, and other online retailer websites, you may have seen the little pop-up which appears on the screen? Yes, we have real people! They’re all based at our head office in East Yorkshire, and are available to help you if you have a question. Just like when you’re in a shop and the assistant asks you if you need any help. All our assistants are friendly and knowledgeable, so there’s no need to be unsure about any products you’re interested in on the website.
Read the specs
When you’re interested in a particular product, most people will read the product description. And usually, if you keep scrolling, you’ll find the specifications. This is where are the working details are. For example, if it’s a laptop, it will tell you how much memory it has, which operating system it uses and a whole lot more technical information. Always read the specification to ensure that you’re getting the product to meet your needs. And then, if there’s something you’re not sure about, you can always speak to a specialist on the Live Chat function.
Yes, this sounds like common sense, and it is. There are many review sites available in which to check out a product, so check those out. However, you need to be a little bit savvy when it comes to reviews. It’s OK just looking at how many stars out of five a product has received, but you need to filter out the reviews which have no relevance to the quality of the actual product. Whilst writing this blog, we took a look at some reviews and the reasons for customers giving disappointing star-ratings is interesting. Some say things like: “Poor delivery” – which is not a review of the product.
How can I tell if a website is secure?
One of the easiest ways to check that the website you’ve just accessed is secure is with the padlock icon, located to the left of the websites URL web address. It might be something you’ve never noticed before, but this small icon is a vital first step in security for many users and determines whether they will stay and shop or not!
As Google Support explains, a padlock is a sure sign of security on your website, and highlights to the user that any data they send through your website (a contact form, for example) or receive from your website (PDF booklets etc.) is private and unaltered in any way – ultimately, the website is as safe as it can be.
Use a trusted company
When contemplating buying a product online, you know everything’s going to be OK if you are using a company that is well-known and trusted. You can check them out, and you can ask people about them. If you’re thinking about ordering a product from a company you have never heard of, then there are certain things you can do to ensure that they are reputable.
At present, Facebook Marketplace is only open to individuals, not businesses. So you’re likely to be buying from a private seller in the same way as if you were buying from a classified advert in a local paper, and the well-known principle of ‘buyer beware’ applies.
Facebook doesn’t verify the products for sale. If you can, it’s a good idea to check anything you want to buy in person before handing over your cash. As always with online sales and as a general rule, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s best practice to check independent reviews of anything you want to buy online. It’s also a good idea to check if the product has been subject to a product recall, or if a safety notice has been issued. A person’s profile information, or lack of, could also give you a clue as to whether you want to meet them in person. Facebook says buyers also have the option of reporting sellers who ‘aren’t acting in good faith’.
The company says it will ‘quickly review and take the appropriate action, which could range from removing a post to banning someone from Facebook altogether’. However, the company neither facilitates the payment nor delivery of items posted in the marketplace, and also isn’t able to verify whether a buyer or seller received what was agreed upon between them. What this means is that ultimately, you are responsible – the risk is with you and it is up to you to ensure you take every precaution when buying from an ‘unknown’ source.
Pay at your own pace!
One of the key advantages of buying tech online is that you can take advantage of one of several ways to pay for your goods.
Let’s start with Paypal. Is it safe? And if there’s any problem, are you covered? PayPal offers unmatched protection with maximum security. The site itself is SSL secured that provides end-to-end protection. So, you don’t need to worry about your sensitive data such as your payment details or the address. You can securely store your credit card data as well. It’s highly respected and is the preferred way of paying, by millions of UK shoppers.
But what is Paypal Credit?
PayPal Credit is like a credit card, without the plastic. It’s a credit limit that’s attached to your PayPal account which you can use for your online purchases.
If your application is successful, PayPal Credit will be available as a funding source within your PayPal wallet and can be used for purchases in most places where PayPal is accepted. You can make purchases in the same way as you would with a normal credit card, by choosing PayPal Credit as your funding source at checkout.
PayPal Credit will provide you with a monthly statement showing your transactions and detailing the minimum repayment amount. Repayments can be made by monthly direct debit, directly from your PayPal account or by speaking to our customer service agents. For further information on how you can pay your PayPal Credit balance, see the ‘Make a Payment’ section below.
For purchases less than £99.00, interest is charged at the standard rate of 21.9% p.a. (variable) if the full amount is not paid off by the date shown on your statement. In addition, PayPal Credit lets you access two types of promotional offers: 0% for 4 months on all purchases of £99.00 and over; and instalment offers with selected merchants. If you use any of these promotional offers, they will also be detailed on your monthly statement, as well as in the PayPal Credit section of your PayPal account.
Klarna is a relatively new kid on the block. It’s one of a new kind of alternative payment solutions, and is becoming massively popular. Klarna is a ‘buy now, pay later’ service (or a point-of-sale financing service) founded in Sweden in 2005. It’s available in nearly 20 countries and used by approximately 90 million shoppers as of 2020. With Klarna, you can secure small loans at checkout for both online and in-store purchases through the Klarna mobile app.
Klarna is available at most online retailers – including Ebuyer – regardless of whether it has partnered with the store. Customers can use its shopping app to spread the cost of a purchase across three months. Your item will ship to you straight away and an email will be sent to you indicating when the payment is due.
Klarna accepts all major credit cards to make your payments, so we suggest you use a rewards card that earns cash back or miles to maximize the benefits from your purchase. Offerings vary by merchant, but no matter which of these payment plans is available, they all provide a new level of flexibility and convenience to online shopping.
When you shop in a high street store, you get to take away the product you want, right there and then. When you shop online there is obviously a wait involved before you can enjoy the tech you’ve bought. But, you don’t have to wait for long! Most online sellers have next-day, super-fast delivery options available. You receive tracking numbers and, in some cases, estimated time of arrival. There are often shipping charges that have to be paid, but usually the savings from buying online more than offset the postage costs and so you’re still much better off!
More than just cheaper products
Online sellers have many advantages over high street retailers, the obvious one being that they have much lower overheads, so can pass on savings to their customers through better prices. But as a customer, there are more advantages than just a cheaper product. Think about the time it takes for you to go into a town centre and shop around for the product you fancy. It will also cost you money to park your car or take public transport. So, in actual fact, your online purchase saves you more money than you might first imagine.
Buying online has changed the way in which people shop. The biggest time saver of all is that people now use their mobiles to browse, order and pay for the items they need. It doesn’t matter where you are, or, in most cases, what you are doing – but you can browse to your heart’s content anytime of the day or night to find the bargain you want.
When you visit a high-street store, you are usually restricted to what stock is in the shop, and possibly they’ll “have a look in the back” if you can’t find the item you’re looking for. Or, perhaps they can order it for you – although that could mean another trip to the store to pick it up at a later date, which is not very convenient. The thing is, you just can’t be sure that they have your item in stock, or if they’d be able to get it by the time you actually need it. That’s just how it is, and if you’re happy to wait, then there’s no problem.
Online retailers have a lot more space to have more stock. When you think of a big online retailer, you probably think of a huge warehouse-type building somewhere in the countryside, full to the top with tons of stock. Well, in a lot of cases, you wouldn’t be far off being correct! The larger online retailers save costs by being away from expensive rents near the centre of towns and cities. They have the facilities to carry more stock and can use their buying power to get the best prices.
If you take a look on their website – like Ebuyer’s for example – you will be able to see if the item you’re looking at is actually in stock. Some websites have a button which says: ‘Inform when back in stock’, so you get to buy as soon as it arrives, and you won’t miss out the next time.
Perfect for gifts
When you are shopping online for tech or anything else, your life is made much easier when you’re buying a gift for someone. Irrespective of wherever you are, it is now no problem at all to buy a gift online and have it sent directly to the person you want to receive it. Birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day – whatever the occasion, now there’s no reason to hand over a gift a month late when you actually get to see them. Online stores will ask where you’d like the product delivering to – so all the hassle is removed from you! Plus, with their super-fast delivery, you’re not going to miss a special date!
Forget the crowds
One of the main reasons that people don’t like shopping on the high street, especially at busy times, is that big crowds can be a real headache. It can be noisy, hard to actually get to the items you want, and people’s social skills can often be a challenge. Additionally, how many times have you seen people blatantly ignoring covid guidelines? Buying online eliminates all these issues and potential anxieties.
Shopping online means much more choice. Online retailers tend to have much more choice as they are not really limited to space like the high street stores. Plus, you can visit as many online retailer’s stores from the comfort of your own armchair without having to walk between shops in all weathers whilst paying a small fortune to park your car for a few hours. And, because everything is at your fingertips, it is easy to make comparisons between different stores. You can browse whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, or while you’re on the bus going to work. A bigger choice of items, more brands and the best prices due to lower overheads, make comparisons easy.
While ecommerce has its undoubtful advantages such as no need to rent a physical space and a broader audience reach, consumers still enjoy the physical shopping experience.
A survey conducted by Retail Dive showed that 62% of consumers would rather physically interact with an item they consider purchasing and prefer offline stores over ecommerce. 49% of respondents like physical stores more than online ones because they love getting things they pay for straight away. Besides, 20% of respondents answered they prefer traditional shopping since they find this process a sort of a social aspect. But, online sellers are fighting back and shortening the gap with Augmented Reality (AR).
The most obvious drawback of ecommerce is that it can’t provide shoppers with tactile interactions – that high level of personal approach, and product delivery compared to bricks-and-mortar stores. However, Augmented Reality can help online stores provide their customers with a deeper and more realistic shopping experience.
Fast finding the right item
Most of us have faced the issue of navigating through numerous shelves in order to find what we need. Customers may lose a lot of time in a physical store in search of a particular item.
Furthermore, shoppers may even get lost in large stores without getting what they’ve come for. With augmented reality, these things are going to change. By implementing immersive technology, retailers can help their customers navigate through the store aisles to a certain shelf.
Improved decision-making processes
Traditional retail advantage, which enables customers to interact with an item in reality before purchasing, also comes with its drawbacks. The main thing is while choosing goods in a bricks-and-mortar store, visitors cannot understand whether or not a certain item is suitable for their home when it comes to such goods as wallpapers, furniture, and textile.
With offline stores, customers simply can’t be situated in different places at the same time. Augmented reality can significantly help retailers increase their customers’ shopping experience by enabling shoppers to virtually place items in their apartments or houses without the need for actually ordering a delivery. Ebuyer has introduced AR, and if you search the website, you’ll see the AR icon alongside certain products to give you an enhanced shopping experience. Go and try it!
Let the deals come to you
At certain times of the year, you can take a trip along the high street and see what goods are available in the sales, whether that be Black Friday, Xmas, Summer sales or one of those new-fangled 24-hour-flash sales which are becoming ever-more popular! You don’t have to keep popping to your favourite shop to find the best sale items. If you subscribe to your favourite websites you’ll receive notifications of sale items directly into your email in-box. At Ebuyer, once you have subscribed, you get three emails per week with the latest sales items, sent directly to you.
Buying products online is incredibly easy, but do you know what your rights are as a consumer when you make that internet purchase?
Cooling-off period for goods
Your right to cancel an order starts the moment you place your order and doesn’t end until 14 days from the day you receive your goods. As this 14-day period is the time you have to decide whether to cancel, the seller can’t say that you must have returned the goods within this timeframe.
There are some orders where you won’t have the right to cancel. These include items that are bespoke or personalised, goods likely to deteriorate rapidly, and, importantly, computer software where the seal is broken. You also don’t have a right to cancel goods with a seal that’s been broken for health protection and hygiene reasons.
Cancelling your order
The Consumer Contracts Regulations enable you to cancel in writing, by fax or by email, although it’s sensible to stick with the process the seller has set up – if it’s reasonable. Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations you should be provided with a cancellation form at the point of sale, although you don’t have to use it. Most online sellers will provide an email address you can send a cancellation to.
Cancel an online order right away
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations your right to cancel an order starts the moment you place it and doesn’t end until 14 days have passed from the day your goods were delivered to you, your nominated neighbour or your dedicated safe place. You should be given the ability to cancel an order at the point of sale. For example, this could be an online form or instructions to contact.
You can cancel an online order in writing, by fax or by email, and a cancellation form should also be made available although it’s sensible to stick with the process the retailer has set up – if it’s reasonable.
The retailer shouldn’t make cancelling an online order unnecessarily difficult. For example, you shouldn’t need to call to get authorisation to return an item. You also shouldn’t be told that items can’t be returned unless you’ve got a cancellation code.
Check the retailer’s T&Cs and returns policy, as these will often set out the returns process, which will be especially relevant to you if the order is already in transit and you may need to return it once it’s been delivered.
If your order is in transit already, you probably won’t be able to cancel it before it reaches you. But, remember that you still have the right to cancel the item for up to 14 days after you’ve received it. Once you’ve confirmed with the retailer you’d like to cancel your order, you then have a further 14 days to return it.
Who is liable if my goods are damaged in transit?
If goods are delivered to you in a damaged condition, the Consumer Rights Act makes the retailer responsible for remedying the situation.
Retailer vs courier
Even if it was the courier who damaged your goods – for example, by squashing your parcel through the letterbox – you should complain to the retailer, not the courier service. This is because your contract is with the retailer, who you bought the goods from.
The Consumer Rights Act states that the retailer is responsible for the condition of the goods until they are delivered to you, so any damage or breakage en-route is the responsibility of them, not the courier.
Bear in mind that the retailer is only responsible until the goods are delivered to you, your dedicated safe place or your nominated neighbour. If anything goes wrong with your parcel and it was left with a neighbour or in a safe place that you nominated, your rights are diminished.
Is that everything?
OK, so we’ve just about covered everything we could think of when it comes to shopping online. We hope you’ve picked up a few useful bits about how to buy your tech online along the way. Let’s give you a quick run down of why shopping online is much better for you, all things considered…
You don’t have to carry stuff!
Staggering home with your arms full was never an enjoyable experience. Well, you never have to do it again. Plus you get to save 10p (or is it 20p now?) on every bag! Just succumb to progress and get everything sent direct to your door. Result!
It’s pretty easy to return things
Online retailers are making the returns process as easy as possible as it encourages more sales and adds extra convenience to shoppers. It’s much easier to return things online rather than trudge into town again in order to queue to return items.
Sending gifts is so easy
If you’ve forgotten someone’s birthday, it’s not always easy to pop out to the shops – especially if they’re closed – to buy them that last minute gift. And then how do you get it to them in time? Don’t worry! All you have to do is search online, make your purchase and have it delivered direct to them the next day! Add a little notecard and they’ll think you’re well-organised and on the ball! Easy.
Buy things incognito
If you’ve got a tech addiction or just want to buy something which is a little more personal, then buying online takes away hassle. Your goods will delivered in a brown box (usually) and the nosy neighbours won’t have a clue what your shopping habits are. It’s just another plus for online shopping.
Use your coupons
The rise of online shopping has seen the rise of discount tokens and vouchers. Not only do prices online tend to be generally cheaper anyway, but a little bit of research can get you even bigger savings. To help you even further, there are sites such as VoucherCodes.co.uk where you can get the latest discount codes.
Read the reviews
It’s always nice to read what actual shoppers think of the product you’re thinking of buying, after all, they’ve experienced it all first-hand, have set it up from scratch and have had time to put it through its paces.
Finding the best deals online is much easier that trudging from shop-to-shop in the town centre on a rainy Saturday. And searching from the comfort of your own couch is not much of a chore.
Silence is golden
Does anyone really want to battle through huge crowds who are all trying to get the best deal on a laptop? If you wanted to spend all your time in a scrum, you’d join a rugby team wouldn’t you? Have the item delivered to your door and test it out with a cuppa and a chocolate digestive close-at-hand. Be honest, which would YOU prefer?
Avoid distraction and impulse buys
Buying online focuses the mind. What do we mean by that? Well, if you’re shopping in a high street store, it is easy to succumb to impulse purchases and deals where you can end up buying items you didn’t set out to buy. Online shopping is much more focussed – especially when it comes to buying tech. usually, you have a particular need, visit Ebuyer.com (for instance!), and hone-in on the category you want and then search to get the best deal. Yes, you may be offered peripheral products, but you’re not going to get to the checkout with a basketful of items you can’t remember putting in there – so online shopping has the capacity to save you money!
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