According to Statistics Canada, nearly 7 million Canadians over the age of 18 placed an order online in 2005. Another 2 million were “web window shoppers” and used the internet storefront to browse before buying. Online shopping is quickly becoming a weekly activity for many Canadian households alongside a trip to the local grocery store or gas station.
Canadians are much less weary of making purchases online, in 2005 approximately three out of four Canadian adults who shopped online paid directly over the Internet with a credit or debit card (Stats Can, 2005). Although many remain concerned over Internet privacy and exploitation of personal information, there is a growing list of online retailers overcoming such barriers. Reputable online retailers offer quality assurance guarantees and online certifications assuring users of their legitimacy and trustworthiness.
To protect yourself from being taken advantage of over the internet follow these guidelines when shopping online:
Familiarize yourself with any return policies, quality guarantees and all fees and charges before you buy.
Https:// is the lingo for a secured site. Any personal information should be sent over SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), look for these signs especially during payment.
If you are purchasing through an online auction either from an individual or storefront, check the site for dispute resolution services (such as PayPal’s moderation service) and customer satisfaction ratings. Know the risk you face when dealing with individuals.
Do some research. Ask around or Google the company to see what comes up. If they have ripped people off before then someone will have complained about it.
For more information on protecting yourself when shopping online visit Canada’s Better Business Bureau.
The internet is a vast resource for online shoppers but it can be difficult finding exactly what you’re looking for, particularly if you need it shipped to a Canadian address. For shoppers looking for stylish clothing and accessories there are a number of options available: Department stores, Auctions, Members-only sample sales, one-of-a-kinds, traditional retailers and exclusively online retailers.
Department stores offer a wide variety of brand names and ongoing sales with a wide selection, keep in mind that many US based department stores ship to Canadian addresses such as JC Penny, Nordstrom and high end retailers Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. If you are looking for a common name brand not available in your area try here first. The most commonly know auction website is of course Ebay.com. For a personalized Canadian experience visit Ebay.ca which will tailor shipping charges and currency for an easier bidding process. Members-only sample-sale sites are growing in popularity and offer savings up to 80% off retail to registered members. These sites are free to join and sales last for only a day or two. Sample sale sites that ship to Canada include Beyond the Rack, Hautelook, Billion Dollar Babes and the UK’s Reverse-Reverse. One-of-a-kinds refer to sites that sell homemade or vintage items from individual sellers such as Etsy.com. Traditional retailers are stores that have physical locations but also sell their items online. Often these online stores will have lower prices and a greater selection than in store. Exclusively online retailers are just what the name suggests. These stores are a great place to find lesser known name brands and deep discounts. Well established online retailers have a wide selection and can afford to offer lower prices because they don’t pay to have a physical storefront. Try Zappos.com for shoes, Amazon.ca for books, Shopbop.com or BlueFly.com for stylish clothing and the UK’s Asos.com.
No matter where you shop you’re guaranteed to find something you didn’t expect online whether it be a new designer, a great deal, or an entertaining experience. Many Canadians have taken their shopping from the streets to the web and haven’t looked back. Just keep in mind that there’s no mall security guards to protect you so keep your wallet and personal information close.