5 Ways to Identify a Legitimate Online Store

Have you or someone you know ever purchased a product from an online store and never received the product? Perhaps, you received the product, but it didn’t fit or it did not look like the image of the product that you ordered. Did you attempt to return the product? When you contacted customer service of the store, did you either not receive an answer or were given the runaround and was never able to return the product? Did you feel like you were the victim of a scam? Please read below for five things to look for on an online store’s website to help determine if the website is legitimate. 

Contact Information 

Every credible online store will have contact information. At the very least, the website should contain the store’s name, telephone number, and email address for customer service. Online stores that also have a brick and mortar store should also provide a physical address. A lot of stores, big retail and small, also offer a chat option to contact customer service. If you see a store’s products listed on Google marketplace, it is a good indication because Google requires the retailer to provide their store’s contact information in order to list products on the marketplace.

Secured Domain 

The website of an online store with a secured domain will begin with https instead of http. A website address beginning with https is supposed to indicate that you have increased security while shopping on the website. In order to obtain a secured domain, a domain name must be purchased. For example, our domain name is theallureretailco.com. A website with a secured domain name is a good indication that the website is legitimate because the online retailer had to spend money to purchase the domain name. Customers should always be sure to look for https in the store’s website address. Also, customers should also compare the domain name to the name of the store or the purpose of the store. Once a domain name is purchased, it is not available for anyone else to use unless it is modified in some way. For instance, someone may use dillards.org to make a customer believe they are shopping at dillards.com, which is the website for Dillards. 

Store Information or Store Policy Section

A legitimate online store will display the store’s: terms of service, refund and return policy, shipping information, and accepted methods of payment. The store’s terms of service outlines what is accepted and not accepted while a visitor is accessing the store’s website. For example, most online stores prohibit the use or reproduction of the images displayed on their website. The refund and return policy should stipulate if returns are accepted, the conditions under which a return will be accepted, and if a refund will be provided or a store credit. Also, the policy should specify if the retailer or the customer is responsible for shipping if a product is returned to the retailer. Shipping information should detail the cost of the various shipping options or inform the customer when the cost of shipping will be available. The estimated delivery times for each shipping method should also be outlined. For instance, our shipping policy is that we offer free standard shipping and defines standard shipping as shipping between 14-38 days. Lastly, all accepted methods of payment should be listed in detail. 

Product Title and Descriptions      

The product title should match the product in the image displayed. Product descriptions may vary according to the product. For clothing, the description should at least include sizes and colors available. In addition, the material used to make the clothing may be included. For other products, the description may include how the product can be used, how the product was made, or why the product is better than similar products. Customers should compare the product title and the product description to the product image and make sure they all relate.

Social Media Accounts

Most reputable online retailers utilize some form of social media in order to interact with their customers or advertise their products. The online retailer should display the icons depicting their affiliated social media platforms on their website. Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter are the 3 major social media platforms used. However, some retailers also use Pinterest and Snapchat. To be on the safe side, customers should review the social media pages of the online retailer to ensure the postings are appropriate and not personal in nature.  

Although there is no fool proof way to ensure that an online store is legitimate, utilizing websites that include these five criteria can decrease the risks of being scammed. What are some other criteria that you look for on a website before making a purchase?

Published by Orangehaven Digest

M.E. Burke holds a MBA and works as a certified professional in the supply chain industry. In addition, she is an owner/operator of an online retail store..

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