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Common problems faced by customers while shopping online

Tarun Mittal
4th Apr 2017
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Online shopping — that glorious invention which allows people to buy things from the comfort of their homes. No more travelling to multiple stores to find the right product; no more having to deal with over-enthusiastic sales persons; no more standing in long lines at the checkout counter. The e-commerce boom has certainly changed the way we shop for the better. But, like everything else, the world of online shopping is not all roses. Despite all the efforts of e-commerce companies to alleviate them, there are a few problems that customers still have to face while shopping online. Six of these problems are listed below.

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

Quality issues

The biggest problem while buying things online is that you have no guarantee of a product's quality. Reviews are not always reliable and all the research can't assure you of a product's quality; fraudulent sellers who intentionally mislead customers to increase sales are the prime reason for faulty/sub-par products being sold online. With the volume of goods e-commerce companies handle these days, it can be quite difficult for them to conduct quality checks on each and every one of the products they're selling. Additionally, the issue of getting the correct size remains a serious drawback for buying clothing and footwear online. Sizes vary from brand to brand, and since you can't try out the products before buying them, selecting the size is always a gamble.

Delivery and logistics

One predicament that constantly turns up while shopping online is when the order will be delivered. While all e-commerce sites have order tracking systems for their customers, they aren’t always accurate. Delivery personnel often turn up at our homes when we're at work or out somewhere as there's no way to fix a particular time slot for the delivery to take place. This same issue exists while returning products. Another problem is that the vast majority of the Indian population which lives in rural areas and Tier-III cities is unable to shop online because not all e-commerce sites provide delivery services to their locations.

Digital payment failures

Whether a customer is paying by credit/debit card, netbanking, or one of the several digital wallets that exist today, the failure of digital payments always looms overhead while making online transactions. A faltering internet connection or a technical glitch often results in the payable amount being debited from a customer's account without being credited to the selling party. And retrieving this amount is anything but a quick process; one has to inform the site and then wait around 7-10 days before the amount is refunded to their bank accounts. But this situation is steadily improving as the sector is focusing more on cashless transactions and customers are getting more informed about making payments online.

Additional charges

How many times has it happened that you've spotted a great deal on a product and when you're one click away from purchasing it you noticed an additional shipping charge. This is commonplace on all e-commerce sites when your order amount isn't high enough to qualify for free shipping. And even when it is, sometimes these shipping charges are added on each individual product (if you're buying multiple products of course) and not the collective order.

Unclear return and guarantee policies

Since you have no idea of product's quality until you hold it in your hands, returning things bought online is quite common. Unless you're buying from one of the established e-commerce companies, it's important to go through the return policy while making a purchase. But most sites have vague return policies that can leave you with a low-quality product and no way to return it. The same applies for guarantees, as most sites don't clearly mention what the policy is for a product and then refuse to carry out replacements if you receive a damaged product.

Lack of security

Cyber security, or more precisely the lack of it, is a major problem on the internet today. E-commerce sites record important customer data like name, phone number, address, and bank details. If these sites don't implement stringent cyber security measures, your data is at risk of falling into the wrong hands who can then wreak havoc on your bank account. Most of the big players in online shopping certainly have the best-in-class security measures to protect their customers' details, but the same can't be said about the countless smaller sites who may not have the expertise to do so.

Online shopping is far too convenient to get hindered by these problems. But if e-commerce sites can fix these issues, they will certainly improve customer experience and hence generate more sales.

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