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3 Things to Think About Before Buying Online

Brent Endaya

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Online Shopping Credit Card Young Woman

Ecommerce and online shopping has been forced to be the norm because of the situation that we’re in which is a good thing for the most part.

Firstly, it’s beneficial because it’s the safer way to shop. But the second and more important aspect is that it brings digital acceptance and literacy to the Filipino people across multiple generations.

But even though we’ve already established buying online as a normal way of buying, there are still downsides and it’s still not perfectly safe. But to be fair, it’s the same with normal shopping. It might be safer, but there are still risks. So to minimize those risks, here are 3 things to keep in mind.

Take time and “date” products

I wouldn’t really dissuade you if you fell in love at first sight with a product, but I highly suggest finding out first if the product is really the one for you.

You have to know first if the product you want to buy is the right one for you. You have to know if you are meant for one another. And no, I don’t watch too much K-drama.

I can definitely understand the fun of being adventurous and trying out new things. However, if you want to look for something that is for the long haul –just like in a relationship– you have to have time to spend knowing the other party.

Don’t buy the book by its cover

I’m pretty sure that the person who coined that term above has not studied marketing. A good product “cover”, like product descriptions or pictures, can be enough to sell to someone. But you have to remember that it is called “cover” for a reason.

It doesn’t cover the whole story and it might cover up some flaws that you might need to know about.

Think about online dating, specifically Tinder. A profile picture and description might get your impression and attention. But you still have to go on a series of dates first to know about each other.

Luckily, you don’t have to buy a product immediately to know more about it. There are tons of resources online about the product you want. Look for reviews, forum posts, Reddit discussion, etc. and get to know about the product more.

But even if you have tons of info about a product, sometimes you are not sure if they’re the one.

Always remember why you are buying

As I’ve said earlier, there are so many things in life that only look good in paper. However, once you try them out in real life, it becomes a very different story.

One way to get you closer to the product that is really for you to think less about what you’re buying and think more about why you are buying in the first place.

Let’s say that you noticed that after working from home, your neck always feels sore. So you try to look at marketplaces for solutions to help you with this. Then you see the nice new office chair. It has great specs, great price, and best of all, it has a headrest.

So you purchased it. It was a great product. A great purchase. However, after working, your neck is still in pain. It occurred to you after doing research that you should have bought a monitor riser instead because the reason why your neck is painful is because you’re looking down at your monitor.

But I don’t blame these kinds of mistakes. It’s easy to get distracted by shiny new things. But again, just remember why you’re buying in the first place. And look for the best solutions to your problem.

Features vs Fluff and FOMO

Another mistake that buyers make is buying unnecessary solutions to their problems because it “provides more value.”

Think of it this way. You need a way to use screws for your DIY project. Of course, you’d think “screwdriver”. However, once you hopped on to Amazon, you see this nice Swiss Army Knife that looks nice. It also has good reviews and it has 10 more uses than just the screwdriver.

So you may think. “If I buy a screwdriver for the same price as the Swiss Army Knife, I will be missing out on the 10 more features that I might need in the future.” So you bought the Swiss Army Knife. But when you use it, it’s not good at turning screws.

Focus on fixing the problem when you are buying. In the scenario above, think of the principle “Better to buy a tool that does one thing efficiently than a tool that does 10 things averagely.”

Future value isn’t value yet. Even though the Swiss Army Knife can provide value in the future, as long as that use case doesn’t come, it’s still a loss.

The truth about online reviews

In my opinion, most people don’t know how to give user reviews. But I don’t blame people solely for this behavior. Sometimes it’s due to how the reviews are structured on the website that make people give incorrect reviews.

But aside from the lackluster review system that some platforms have, most people are just too busy or don’t care enough to give a meaningful review. Or they feel that they don’t have that much technical knowledge to give a review. Or they really don’t see the significance of giving a relevant review.

But in my opinion, if you have time to buy the product, you also have time to review the product.

Make your reviews relevant

I regularly see PRODUCT review pages where customers give 1-star reviews because they received a different product. This is what I mean by irrelevant review. Because in reality, the customer did NOT experience the product. They received a different product.

This can be relevant if the review was placed on the seller review page. But again, the reason maybe is because of complicated or unclear designs that customers tend to just place it on whatever space they can.

But if that’s not the case, people should know that for a review of a product to be helpful, you have to experience the product first. You have to have time to use the product first before giving reviews.

Find good reviews by providing good reviews

I encourage people to give honest feedback to products and sellers as much as possible. It’s very beneficial information to sellers to improve their service, to the platform to know if they are doing a good job, to the products and why people buy them, and to fellow buyers looking at that specific product.

And as I mentioned earlier, some people don’t know what a good and relevant review looks like. So it starts with you. If people see your review, they’ll know what to put on their next review. And it snowballs from there.

The value in negative reviews

The reality is you can’t please everyone. And if a product does, i.e. it just has all 5-star reviews, be very careful as it might not be real.

It’s very normal to see negative reviews on a product as it might not please everyone for a multitude of reasons. The usual reason is the expectation is not met or as I said earlier, it might just be an irrelevant review.

But the value we can get there is how the seller reacted to the negative reviews. Did they provide an explanation, are they going to send another product. The steps that the seller took to handle the negative reviews is paramount to the customer’s experience. And that’s what you should want.

The price ain’t always right

Prices are always changing and there is not one universal price for a specific product. It would always depend on the seller, the platform, and your location.

So explore the same product on different platforms and even check them on sites that sell used or refurbished items to have a full understanding of a specific product’s price range.

There are also some apps or websites that actually track the price changes of products and you can even make them send you a notification or an email to you if the product drops to a certain price.

But remember, you can’t say the word “VALUE” without pronouncing “YOU”. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine if it’s worth your investments.

See price is just one tool to determine value. Ultimately, it’s a multitude of factors that can determine if a purchase is worth your investments. And I say investments because it includes your time and effort for research and eventually, money.

Slow is almost always safer

Buying online is easy and fast. And I’m actually glad that it’s become more and more widely accepted here in the Philippines. However, as with all things, we should definitely take more time to understand it; The products we are buying and online shopping itself.

Because the expense of security is speed and convenience. And one of the things that we can take away from this pandemic is that we need to be truly careful, and it takes huge amounts of effort and sacrifice to be safe.

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