Why shop online?
Online shopping is mail order shopping with credit cards. It can be useful. You can buy goods that you can't get locally. You can search for items like out-of-print books. You can order food online from supermarkets who will deliver (but you will have to pay for the delivery). You don't have to park.
How to shop online
First read about reducing risks of online shopping.
Then find the right website. You may see it advertised, or someone may recommend it. You can search for a website. It is sensible to use a UK website, and one that looks reputable. You may wish to use a company that you know. If not, you can make your first order a small one, to see what the service is like. Make a note of the web address, in case you want to use the website again, or complain about your order.
The website may be quite complicated and slow to load. You will need to look around the website to find the catalogue of goods. Some websites require you to register, or give them some personal details, before you start. Once you have chosen something, you click to order the item or put it in your shopping basket or trolley or cart. You have not yet bought it. You can go on to pick several items. You should be able to look at what is in your basket, or review your order.
Finally you need to pay! This might be called placing your order, or going to checkout. You will be given a list of what you have ordered, plus any postage and packing costs. You can still abandon the order and the website at this point. You will be asked for your name and address for the delivery, plus possibly your email address. You also must choose how you pay, and give credit or debit card details. Make sure that this webpage is secure (see below). It is a good idea to print the webpage with the order to prove that you've made the order, in case there is a problem later. You will also have to click on a button to submit the order. This is the moment that you have paid, and you cannot go back. Don't click on the button twice, or you may place two orders by mistake!
The company may email you to confirm the order, but not all do.
Your goods will be delivered like ordinary mail order. If you are not in to receive the order, you may have to phone to reschedule it, or the parcel may be left with a neighbour.
Reducing risks of online shopping
Alternatives to shopping online
Some people are nervous of using credit cards online, although a secure site is probably safer than using a credit card over a telephone. However, if you prefer shopping in the real world, you can still use websites to see what's on offer, compare prices and gather information, e.g. estate agents will list their houses for sale and rent on their websites.
Some websites allow you to use their site to set up the order without filling in credit card details. You can then print off the order, and send it to them by post, with a cheque.
If you have found a item like an out-of-print book on the web, you can email the shop to reserve it, and ask for the price. Then you can send the cheque and they will send you the book.
Some companies may allow you to order the goods by email, and then will invoice you on delivery. Not all companies will do this, so check. Do not give your credit card details in an email, it is not secure.
There are exchange organisations where you can give stuff and get stuff for free, as a form of recycling.
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