The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way consumers approach shopping. Forbes found that online retailers’ year-over-year revenue was up 68 percent in mid-April, and February saw an increase in online shopping typically only seen on Cyber Monday, according to QuantumMetric.
While consumers are embracing the convenience and safety of ordering everything from household furniture to toilet paper via their smart phone, the added traffic to online retailers has a ripple effect on the logistics of shipping and preparing orders and returns. This creates a backlog of deliveries waiting to be processed.
To help ease issues with online ordering, the BBB has the following tips:
Plan for delays. Be sure to check the expected delivery date before purchase, if one is provided. If you need an item by a specific date or event, confirm details with the retailer before making a purchase. Paying additional charges for expedited shipping may be necessary.
Before making a purchase, review the return policies. Many companies have changed how and what they will accept for returns. These details can often be found at the bottom of a webpage and should be reviewed carefully. Make note of the shipping policies.
Once the order is placed, verify the tracking number with the shipping company. The link to follow the package may not be active until the retailer labels and packages the physical order. Once the link is live, verify it through the shipping company’s website directly.
Always use a credit card. Credit card companies are more likely to provide refunds in the event of theft, loss or other issues. Third-party payment providers and debit cards often do not have the same fraud policies.
See if there is an alternative pick up or delivery option. Many retailers are offering curbside or in-store pick up options with a discount.
Watch for your package to arrive. Even though you may be working from home, you still should be watching for your package. Porch pirates are still looking for unattended deliveries to swipe.
Don’t get scammed. Check out the retailer on BBB.org. Fraudsters are notorious for spoofing well-known brands and companies by creating lookalike websites and taking personal and financial information before the buyer realizes the site is fake. Carefully check out reviews on businesses that have pop up ads on social media sites. Manually type in the name of the merchant in the search bar and consider ordering from retailers that you’ve dealt with in the past.
Find more tips to help you shop smart and avoid online shopping scams on BBB.org/ShoppingOnline.
If you’ve spotted a scam, whether you lost money or not, report it to the BBB at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your reports helps other consumers avoid scams.