Globally online retail shopping accounts for 11% of total retail sales (with China and the UK way above this with 20% and 18% respectively), while South Africa is behind on this trend at only 1%, with a prediction of 4% by 2020.
As more South Africans gain access to technology and cheaper internet, it is becoming increasingly important to be vigilant and ensure safety while shopping online.
Look for the secure lock
Sites that are secure, will show a small lock on the left before the website address and will also start with https instead of just http.
This ensures that encrypted data is sent over a secure connection, which is very important when dealing with credit card details. Browsers, like Chrome, will actually issue a warning when you attempt to go to a non-secure site. Never use a site that doesn’t have the lock icon.
Use sites you know
Google has recently started displaying products in search results, but only click on these if you know of the site. If there is a site you haven’t heard of, rather type in the website address in your browser and go directly to the site to see if it is legitimate. If you regularly use an online shop, download the app when shopping from your phone.
All of these online shops in the search results are well known.
Do your homework
If you’ve never used a site for online shopping before, make sure you do some research before handing over your hard-earned cash. First Google the company to see what information there is on the site and then check their Facebook page. Look for customer reviews on Google and Facebook, and see how the company responds to these reviews.
Read the FAQs, shipping and returns policies
We know, we know, who has time to read the fine print? Well, it’s very important when you’re shopping online, especially for fashion. Most reputable sites have good returns policies, but you need to check them before buying. Sometimes you have to return your purchases within a certain amount of time to qualify for a refund. If a site doesn’t have a returns policy, we recommend staying away.
Don’t use public WIFI
Stick to your home or work WIFI or your mobile data when shopping online. Now is not the time to cash in on public or free WIFI. It is difficult to know if the WIFI is secure and if not, it can be very easy to get your card info.
Tip: if you have to use public WIFI, then opt for a VPN which will help secure your connection. If this seems too complicated, just stick to your own internet connection.
Never give out your ID number
If your bank card details and ID number get into the wrong hands, the consequences could be disastrous. An online shop doesn’t really need your birthdate or ID number, so only give essential details.
Use good passwords & anti-virus software
Create a strong password (that isn’t password!) and make sure your computer is updated with the latest anti-virus software. Also, avoid opening emails or files that seem suspicious or have offers that are too good to be true. An offer that seems too good to be true probably is.
Our favourite sites to buy fashion from online
If you’re still nervous about shopping online for clothes, All4Women’s Window Shopper features sites that we’ve personally tested. Click here to check it out and see a selection of clothes and beauty products from reputable online stores. Happy shopping!