By Emsie Martin
Not everyone is comfortable with online shopping. Most older people prefer to see and shop, but I must admit, no searching for parking, no standing in ques and not bumping into shopping carts does sound appealing.
The Covid-19 crisis sped up the digital revolution and due to this, consumers started doing online shopping even more since the national lockdown.
Jan Alleman now also realises how convenient it can be to buy items, from food to electronics, online and how easy it is. Online retail is therefore going to grow especially now as more businesses realise that it is one of the more important routes to financial survival.
Many consumers are still unaware of this new way of visiting and supporting their favourite shops virtually, but it is not something that needs to be tackled with fear.
Online shopping is probably just as safe as conventional shopping if a few basic precautions are taken. Yet, as in any industry, there are unfortunately scammers who try to deceive consumers, thus, one has to be vigilant.
Here are some tips from Virseker, if you are embarking on a virtual shopping spree:
Support well-known online stores
For your own peace of mind, it is always better to support a brand that has a good reputation, because the chances are better that such a store has better systems in place to make you feel safe virtually. If you are considering buying items at a new store and are not sure if they can be trusted, do your homework first. Also, buy from a South African online store rather than a foreign one, which is not necessarily regulated by local law.
Online shopping can make life a lot easier, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Beware of false websites
- Do not use public wi-fi to do your online shopping – it makes it easier to steal usernames and passwords.
- It is especially important to open the webpage yourself by entering the address. Do not just follow a link you receive via SMS, WhatsApp or an email. There are numerous false links that seems like the real thing. Legal retail sites’ websites’ URL will often be “https” rather than just “http”. The “s” refers to a good security level of the webpage.
- Apps are usually safer than websites. If your phone is stolen you can log on to the website via your laptop or PC and change your passwords.
Use safe payment methods
Banks are trying hard to keep credit card transactions as safe as possible, but you also have the responsibility to be vigilant and protect your card details. Never save your credit card details on your computer, smartphone or send it to someone via email. No bank or online shop will ever ask you to provide your PIN or any other password.
Strengthen your virtual immunity
- Invest in a good, multi-level antivirus programme for your personal computer, and ensure that you use more than one password for your activities online.
- Also, do not do online transactions when you are signed into public wi-fi, for example a coffee shop’s or a shopping centre’s.
Make sure of the terms and conditions
As with any transaction it is important to read the fine print before continuing. You can be exploited in a legal way because you did not identify yourself with the conditions. However, if you shop online you will be protected by the regulations of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act as well as the Consumer Protection Act.
SFS is a key player in Virseker’s offer to Solidarity and AfriForum members.
*This article is only published for informative purposes and should not be regarded as financial or legal advice by Virseker.