Research Online Shops and Stores

Research Online Shops and Stores before you start shopping wildly online - there are places to avoid - there are places that are excellent.

Is it really possible to research online shops and stores? How do you know which stores are best to shop at?

Yes it is possible! I can show you my ways to research online shops and stores. (There may be other ways).

It is not that hard to set up an online store, but not everyone is good at running one and some may suddenly disappear. There are stories of single individuals setting up a business on a card table in a back bedroom, and after a while they are selling all kinds of things - some of which may not exist! However, some are great. Yahoo started in a garage apparently, with two young college fellows.

Some people have unethical practices. It's smart of us then, to learn to research online shops and stores, isn't it?

Danger Signs of an Unsafe Online Store;

bad shop or store icon The online store's site offers no clue as to who owns it or where they are located.

bad shop or store icon

The online shop has no Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, or signs of a secure shopping page/method.

bad shop or store icon Things appear to be free or at a bargain, but extra charges are added out of the blue while you are checking out.

bad shop or store icon There is no mention of how the purchases will be shipped, or what those charges will be.

bad shop or store icon There is no mention of what to do if you are not satisfied with the purchase when it arrives - or if it gets lost.

bad shop or store icon You discover, after research, that this site is "selling" items that are free elsewhere online.

bad shop or store icon When you do a Search on the store name, you find past customers complaining of bad service or non-delivery of purchases. Watch out!

One of the smartest things to do then, is research online shops and stores yourself. A certain amount of skepticism is healthy - UNTIL you've got evidence - but try to be a fair and balanced researcher. Hardly any one can be pure as the driven snow. Someone somewhere may have taken offense and be on a crusade to tell the world. So you need to exercise some discernment, or common sense. Listen to recommendations from people you trust, and listen to your calmer intuition too - that is, if your passionate desire doesn't turn you against every other reasonable argument.

Signs of a Reputable Online Store or Shop

example of contact info in the footer of a web page or site

blue icon- shopping bag

Information in plain view, preferrably on every page, (usually in header or footer, as in above example) showing who and where they are.

blue icon- shopping bag

Links to an "About Us" page that has real information that convinces you. There should be photos of real people who own and run the business, not models.

blue icon- shopping bag

Easy to find links to their Privacy policy so you know your personal information will be protected.

blue icon- shopping bag

Easy to find Terms of Service summing up how they do business and what you can expect.

secure site's padlock is closed - bottom right corner of browser window

blue icon- shopping bag

You see the "https" in the URL and the locked padlock icon in the lower left or right corner of your brower frame when you are on the shopping cart pages.

blue icon- shopping bag

All fees and charges are described and spelled out up front, not tacked on after your credit card number is entered.

blue icon- shopping bag

Before you checkout all the details of your order are spelled out plainly so you can check them over.

blue icon- shopping bag

When you research the store name you find far more positive experiences described by customers than complaints.

Best of all, of course, is to get recommendations from people you trust. Check with friends who are ahead of you in experience.

Furthermore, this site researches online shops and stores to find the highest recommendations for those reliable for your shopping pleasure! Bookmark this as a "favourite" and come back often in your research of online shops and stores.

How to Research online Shops and Stores

Simply go to a search engine like Google, and enter the name of the store you want to research, and add a word like 'reputation', or 'reviews'. Then go to the various sites in the results, and see what different people have to say about that store.

You will find some sites that praise the store to the skies, but take into account that they may be getting commissions from their links to that store. You will also find sites, and forums where disgrunted customers describe their disasterous shopping experiences with that store or shop. Others will be effusive with gushing praise. Remember that most people don't bother mentioning their shopping experience unless it was bad, so for every complaint against an online store,there will be a dozen or more who were perfectly happy with the store. Take a few notes, and then calmly think over all that you've read. Weigh the pros and cons. If the complaints were minor enough, you might want to try out the store, but perhaps you would order a small item instead of a big-ticket item right off.

If you are brave enough, you might also want to contact the reviewers to talk with them over the phone. Often we can pick up sincerity or insincerity better when we hear people's voices.

If, after reading up on a store on various sites you have an intuitive sense that you want to avoid that store - do so, just don't speak evil of them if you have no personal bad experience with them.

Personally, I watch for clues to low or loose standards on moral issues. If I read the CEO cheated in one area of life, chances are high that this has or will spread to other areas of business. So even if that online shop or store offers great deals, if my spirit puts up flags, I'll leave them alone. That may not be the most scientific research online shops and stores, but it works with my value system.

Do you let morality and intuition influence your decisions about where to shop online? Feel free to comment below.