DON’T GET CAUGHT IN THE WEB

ON­LINE SHOP­PING HAS BEN­E­FITS – BE SMART AND DODGE PIT­FALLS

Life & Style Weekend - - HOME - WORDS: TRACEY HORDERN

More than a quar­ter of Aus­tralians now reg­u­larly shop on­line, with our to­tal on­line sales now more than $1.95 bil­lion a month ac­cord­ing to NAB. One of the big­gest cat­e­gories is home­wares, which makes sense, as there’s no need to try on that lamp, cush­ion or chair.

There is a vast amount of prod­uct in­for­ma­tion you can ac­cess on­line with a grow­ing num­ber of so­phis­ti­cated apps and view­ing op­tions. But it does have its down­side. I re­cently bought on­line but the re­tailer sent the wrong item. Two hours of my life later and mi­nus the cost of ad­di­tional postage, I am re­think­ing, given a sub­stan­tial num­ber of on­line pur­chases have dis­ap­pointed.

The best strat­egy is to com­bine the ease of on­line (with the de­liv­ery op­tion) with in-store re­search. This es­pe­cially ap­plies if you’re con­sid­er­ing a big-ticket item, as it’s hard to sur­pass the gen­uine re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing, touch­ing and even try­ing the prod­ucts in store.

Many larger stores are com­bat­ing the ex­clu­sively on­line stores by of­fer­ing greater ser­vice – hav­ing stylists as­sist and of­fer­ing af­ford­able, flex­i­ble de­liv­ery.

If you shop ex­clu­sively on­line, my sug­ges­tion is to avoid im­pulse buy­ing and do your home­work. Is the prod­uct avail­able at nu­mer­ous sites? Which of­fers the best price, ser­vice and re­turn poli­cies? Con­sumer rights in Aus­tralia ap­ply to all pur­chases. If things go wrong on­line, as­sert your rights and con­tact your state con­sumer author­ity.

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