Shopping Online

There has been a significant increase in the number of online shops of all kinds as consumers are more willing to make purchases over the world wide web. Each Christmas/holiday season sees the percentage of seasonal spend done over the Internet with shopping cart software increasing.

Shopping Cart Software

With a hosted shopping cart software service, the merchant does not require technical or programming skills. Using a web browser, the merchant can set up his/her own online store on the hosted e-commerce service, add products, product photographs and descriptions, configure delivery options etc. and have the store operational within minutes.

Advice for Online Customers

From the perspective of the shopper, it is a great timesaver to be able to visit multiple stores within a few minutes online, where you can look at the products on offer and compare the various prices. Think of the time required to get around the same number of physical shops, the battling through traffic, looking for parking or queuing for public transport. Furthermore, with online shopping, the products are delivered to your door, and the prices available online can be significantly lower than those in the main street shops. It's no wonder that more and more people are turning to the Internet to do their shopping.

Online shopping using shopping cart software, not only offers good prices, it also gives buyers access to a huge range of products, much larger than their local shops could carry. For many specialist or technical items, online stores using e-commerce solutions may be the only place where a customer can find them.

Your rights. These will depend on where you are located and the local laws that apply. Most countries have consumer protection legistation in force which requires the vendors to either repair or replace goods that are delivered to you in a faulty or damaged condition, or offer you a refund. For goods which are delivered by courier, it is useful to open the box and check the item before signing for it. If damage is found after accepting delivery, contact the merchant and arrange to have the item returned. This should be done as soon as possible, as there is usually a short time period within which this must be done to be protected by legislation. A handy reference for consumers in the European Union is the Shopping Online Guide. As a consumer you have certain consumer rights, and buying online actually conveys the same rights as you would have if you bought on the high street, and then further rights associated with online or distance purchasing. Good shopping cart software provides support for the merchant in displaying your rights and entitlments with respect to faulty goods or cancelling an order.

The right to cancel the order may be yours under applicable legislation (e.g. in the European Union, the Distance Selling Directive gives the consumer the right to cancel the order and return goods (if received) within fourteen days of delivery. The consumer may have to pay for the cost of returning the goods. Certain types of goods and services are not covered by this legislation, e.g. personalised or customised goods, goods where the customer opened the manufacturer's seal (thereby making it impossible for the merchant to sell it "as new" to someone else), newspapers or periodicals, gaming or lottery services, the provision of services if that service has already begun, goods or services the price of which is dependent on fluctuations in the financial market which cannot be controlled by the supplier, food or drink, tickets for planes, trains and other transport services, concert tickets, hotel bookings, or auctioned goods

Customer may have fears about not knowing or trusting the online merchant. The vast majority of online merchants want the customer to be satisfied, and want to build a reputation of being reliable and dependable and for offering good customer service. With the advent of social media, any "bad press" for a merchant will quickly affect their sales. Furthermore, consumers will usually have recourse to their credit card companies (where they paid by credit card) whereby in the event of non-delivery of goods, they can, after trying and failing to get satisfaction from the merchant, request that the credit card company make a charge-back. A charge-back is where the credit card company reverses the payment to the merchant, and the consumer gets his/her money back, as it were. This is a strong defence for consumers, and merchants can face additional charges from the card processors if they incur too many charge-backs. For more information: Credit cards and disputes with merchants.