Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.

A Practical Lesson in Wise Online Shopping

This morning I received an SMS message on my phone offering 90% off on Oakley Sunglasses. My alarm bells rang loudly and I thought I might just look into this more closely out of interest. Yes, I was interested but at the back of my mind I was thing… if it’s too good to be true then it isn’t.

So I went to my browser and entered the url of the site given to me and what I was presented was what appeared to be a reasonably professional online store selling Oakley sunglasses. And yes they were all 90% off. What a bargain and overcoming my initial reaction (lasting all of 0.7 secs) to buy a pair I thought I would just check things out a bit closer.

  1. Where is this company based?  – I clicked the Contact Us link to see a web form and no address details… Ok my suspicions are starting to gurgle in the pit of my stomach
  2. Do they have any Terms and Conditions, what are their return policies? – Mmm these don’t exist at all… Looking at links on the site there is only a Privacy policy which in fact turns out to be sort of a Terms and Conditions page… the gurgles are getting stronger now.
  3. In the Privacy policy I see that they do have a return statement which read “We hope you will be delighted with your purchase from the Fashion Eyewear. However, should you wish to return anything bought from us, please send emails to quoting your original order number, transaction number, and the reason for the return. We will then email you for further instructions…”. This concerned me as the email domain is different to the website.
  4. The clincher… at the bottom of the pages there is a link “Powered by Oakley Sunglasses” and I thought this will be interesting and guess what. I am directed to a page that contains a huge legal notice advising me that “Attention Consumers - This website domain was taken, by court order, from those who thought they could get away with ripping off customers loyal to the Oakley brand by selling fake and dangerous products. They were wrong.”

Ok now I have major indigestion and I can plainly see that the original suspicions I had are totally grounded.

Be very careful when purchasing online. Whilst there are many ethical online stores there are so many rip-off sites set up to merely catch your attention and get your money. Whether this site will even send you your glasses is in itself questionable. What you need to establish in any online store is:

  1. Credibility
  2. Authenticity
  3. Legitimacy

These are 3 critical aspects to any online store and unfortunately, even legitimate online traders don’t always establish these factors as well as they could. Some of the things you can do as an online store owner on the web are:

  • Provide your address of the business as being your physical trading address or your registered office address and make it clear the type of address you are giving. Do not use PO Box addresses.
  • Provide a contact phone number and preferably one that can be corroborated in White pages or Yellow pages.
  • Provide clear and simple instructions in a separate Refund and / or Return of Goods Policy ensuring that the policy does not try you circumvent any legal requirements of common law.
  • Link you site to any business social media pages you have as these can assist in establishing legitimacy
  • Don’t rely on testimonials you place within your own website – anyone can create these so they add little by way of authenticity unless they are drawn from independent 3rd part websites such as Facebook etc.
  • If you can obtain authenticity from authority sites such as GeoTrust etc then you should do so. If the site provides any images to indicate that the store has been verified than check these to see what is presented and if the information correlates with the store owner.
  • Check who the SSL certificate for the site is registered with and how closely this matches the name of the company that supposedly owns and operates the website.

I am sure that others can suggest more ways of establishing the authenticity of your online web store but the above are a good start for most. If you have other suggestions then we look forward to hearing from you.

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