Tips for online shopping for Malaysian consumers
By Patricia Hului
Did you know that Amazon and eBay were the first few online shopping sites? That was in 1995, almost 20 years ago when the world first found out about online shopping.
Fast forward to 2014: with easy access to internet and widely use of smartphones, online shopping is no longer foreign to us.
Zalora, Mudah, Lelong are some examples of the Malaysian online market that brings different of sellers or brands all under one roof.
On Facebook, you’ve seen all those posts tucked between your friend’s posts on your timeline with the headline ‘Suggested Post’.
As of October 2013, Facebook had 1.19 billion active users. With connectivity to that amount of users, it is not surprising more and more business owners are turning to Facebook as an extension of their marketing strategy.
Blogshops or a blog run as a shop is also an alternative. Blogspot, WordPress and self-hosted websites provide more options for customers to shop online.
Even Instagram has become the new ‘it’ medium to sell everything under the sun; from perfume to pet products. The use of hashtags makes the selling process easier and faster. Just search #malaysiaonlineshopping in Instagram and the result shows up with more than 37,000 photos!
So now, apart from the usual marketing websites, we have social networking sites for people to shop online. Since online shopping is obviously here to stay, here are a few tips to shop safely on the net especially for us Malaysians:
1. Make sure the sellers are legit
Most online consumers prefer well-known trusted sites. But few are daring enough to try new sellers.
Whichever sellers you might choose, make sure the sellers are legit.
Most people are unaware that starting from 1 July 2013, all online business and service in Malaysia had to comply with the Consumer Protection (Electronic Trade Transactions) Regulations 2012.
The regulations require all online business suppliers to disclose the following information:
a) The business name (be it the name of the owner, company or business)
b) The registration number of the business or company, if applicable
c) Contact details such as email address and telephone number , or address of the online business suppliers
d) Description of the goods or services
e) Full Price of the goods or services; transportation costs, taxes and other costs
f) Paying methods
g) Terms and conditions of the sale
h) Estimated time of delivery of the goods or services to the buyers
Any online sellers failed to do so is committing an offence.
It is your right as online consumers to require for this information from the sellers.
2. Read the paying methods, shipping methods, return policies.
Be clear of the sites’ paying methods, shipping methods and return policies.
Know the terms and conditions, do the sellers provide free return policies? What happens if the goods you received are damaged, are you given 100% refund or less?
What if the items are out of stock? Are you going to be refunded or will they wait for a restock?
These are the little things that consumers fail to notice when online shopping. Do not simply click on “I agree” without reading the terms and conditions.
3. Choose your item wisely.
Read the descriptions thoroughly. What is the item made of? Is the colour correctly captured in the photo?
If you are not convinced, search for consumer’s feedback on the item you want to purchase. Read the reviews but great deals of bloggers nowadays are being sponsored to write a product review. Aim for non-biased comments from consumers that actually bought the products.
When buying clothes, check out the measurement and measure your own body. Check out the materials, what type of fabric the clothes are made of? Is the fabric stretchable?
Ladies, take note of “inspired” fashion items. It is trending online where sellers would sell a fashion item inspired by well-known brands, for example Zara inspired sleeveless top or Topshop inspired midi skirts.
Check out the price of original items. If the price of original items is not far off from the inspired items, why don’t just buy the original items if you are aiming for quality.
Online shopping is not subject to women only. A postgraduate student and one of the owners of a tea trading company, Ong Jia Jet, 26 shared his experience of online shopping. He cautioned buyers should be careful not to buy counterfeits items online.
Having to buy his camping equipment online, Ong learnt that buyers should stick to items of trusted brands. “Cheap prices of sales items could be a bargain but the quality would be compromised,” he added.
Mudah.my, one of Malaysia’s leading online market advices their customers to meet up with the buyers at a shop and check the authenticity when buying branded items.
4. Make a secure payment
Most sites are given a number of choices to make your payment. PayPal, Maybank2U are few examples of online payment methods available.
Do not make an online payment in a public computer, which is a big no-no.
When making manual banking, don’t lose your deposits receipts. If online banking is your choice, print screen the payment you made.
Inform the sellers you have made the correct amount of transaction with the exact time and date.
Please don’t be ghost buyers though. If you are not committing to buy the items, then don’t make a booking.
5. Always Protect Yourself
When was the last time you changed your email password? How about the password to your membership account in Zalora?
Felicia Khoo, 26, works as a teacher and regularly buys online for items for instance cosmetic and clothes. She checks her account from time to time, just to make sure her account is not being hacked.
Beware of phishing; the act of sending an email to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information.
Phishing can come from a wide list of fake names from a shopping site that you often browse to even under a fake name of a recognised bank.
Never give up your personal information to unknown sources; bank account, online banking account password etc.
Still, why opt for online shopping if you can actually see, touch and have a try on the product when you shopping the good old way? Variety of choices, faster and sometimes even lower prices; these are the reasons why online shopping is trending.
Whatever you are buying, be it online or at the store, here is one rule of thumb; the price must be worth the quality.
Enjoy your online shopping!