Online shopping has expanded exponentially. Today, you can buy just about anything over the Internet – from luxury items and accessories to groceries and other basic necessities.
But while it may seem like it can give you instant gratification, the ability to buy anything you want can also get out of hand very quickly. Besides overspending, you also need to be careful of online shopping crimes like identity theft.
And while you can indeed feel comfortable buying your groceries online, that doesn’t mean you have to click or tap “buy now” before you are able to get as much information as you can. And the best way to learn all the important things is to consider these top seven mistakes that can be made while grocery shopping:
Mistake #1: Buying on Impulse
If you’re no stranger to online shopping, then this one requires little explanation at all. After all, you would already know what this is about.
If you’re hasty, promotional items and those on sale suddenly end up in your virtual cart. Add these to the products you “swear” you meant to include in your grocery list and those that cost “less” if you buy bulk, and you have yourself a cart full of unnecessary items.
However, buying on impulse can end up busting your budget. It can also destroy the healthy diet goals you originally planned to follow.
Mistake #2: Not Looking at More Options
Sometimes, people tend to be more critical when buying from brick-and-mortar stores compared to online shops. Where they would choose to shop around in physical stores and buy items with a better price, people often don’t take the time to shop around online.
This is a mistake. The truth is that doing comparison shopping among different stores can help you save big while allowing you to decide on the best places to buy certain goods.
Some mobile apps make comparing products on many different online stores easier and faster. You can also use Google Shopping, as it can give you a price comparison check instantly. All this would help you make a more informed grocery shopping decision.
Besides the price, you also need to consider many other factors, such as shipping charges, store ratings, return policies, and many others. Read on to learn more about this.
Mistake #3: Taking a Chance with Unknown Merchants
Well-known grocers like Al Adil Supermarket in Dubai have built a reputation for doing good business. This is why people trust them and patronize their services.
With that said, it is recommended that you stick to merchants that have already established their credibility and trustworthiness. But if you still want to try buying from merchants that aren’t well-known yet or those you haven’t transacted with in the past, be sure to take the necessary precautions.
One thing you can do is to look for the company’s address and phone number on their website. Even if they sell online, they should have those to operate a legitimate business. Then, try calling their customer service and ask questions on their policies for refunds, returns, and consumer complaints, among others, that concern you and your grocery shopping.
Mistake #4: Buying Out of Season
Another way you can bust your budget in grocery shopping is by buying fresh produce that is out of season.
You see, in-season fruits and vegetables have several advantages. Besides being cheaper, they also taste so much better, and the supplies are fresher and of higher quality than when they’re not in season.
It is also healthier to stick to fresh produce, and you get the chance to support your community by buying locally.
Mistake #5: Not Taking Shipping into Account
When online grocery shopping, you’re not spending money on gas or transportation. However, your items have to be transported from the store to your house somehow. This is where shipping and delivery services come in.
Be on the lookout for additional charges covering these services as they tend to make up for the amount you save on fuel and public transport fare. In some instances, ordering online may cost more than when you buy them directly from the store because of these extra fees.
That said, always consider delivery costs when calculating the cost of buying online. To be sure, filter your search results based on the price, including the shipping fee, to get an accurate calculation.
Also, look for shops offering free shipping as they help you maximize your savings.
Mistake #6: Using Public Wi-Fi When Online Shopping
There are a ton of things that you shouldn’t be doing on public Wi-Fi, and online shopping is definitely one of them.
While it may seem like a good way to pass the time, online shopping over public Wi-Fi – be it in a café or a plaza – can be dangerous. Any information sent via unsecured connections is easily compromised, especially if hackers are just standing by for people to take the bait of the “free Wi-Fi.”
That said, it’s best to wait until you arrive home or have access to a private network before using your credit card to buy groceries online. This is also true for logging into your online banking account and other secure websites that require critical personal information.
Mistake #7: Shopping in Unsecured Websites
Besides public connections, you should also be extra careful of unsecured websites. Remember that not all websites are the same; some may be trustworthy, but others will be downright sketchy. So, make sure to take the time to inspect the website’s reputation and its security credentials before logging in.
There are a lot of clues you can use to determine how secure a website can be:
- Websites with URLs that begin with “https” are safer to use than those with “http” (the added “s” stands for security, after all).
- Check to see if a padlock icon on the address bar is locked, as it indicates whether or not the site uses encryption to maintain cybersecurity.
- It is also wise to read the website’s privacy policies to determine how well they can keep your information secure.
- Look closely at the details of a website as there are cases when Internet scammers misspell the name of a reputable brand to trick people into buying. When in doubt, don’t use the site.
Doing all these is necessary, especially if you’re going to use your credit card details and other critical information when online shopping.
Aim for Worry-free Grocery Shopping
As you enjoy the benefits offered by online grocery shopping, make sure that you remain critical by avoiding the mistakes listed in this article. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Xavi Nunes is the Co-Founder and CMO at El Grocer, a digital platform for grocery stores and specialty and gourmet shops in the UAE. The company is reinventing the grocery shopping experience, integrating the best local stores into the mobile-first environment.