Digital shopping tour

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It doesn’t get any easier than that: on a breaks, on the way to work or on the sofa, it’s easy to browse through online shops, place desired items in the digital shopping cart and order them.
Sometimes the product even gets delivered the next day—and with free shipping, too. There is no need to worry about opening hours when shopping online. No more annoying queues at the cash registers and no more running from one shop to the next. You can compare prices just as quickly.
Difficult decision?

But how do consumers decide for or against a service on the Internet, a product or an online provider? In addition to the price, customer ratings are one of the most important decision criteria. However, a healthy portion of mistrust is always appropriate if the praise for an offer is very exuberant. Several comments that contain the same or similar phrases may indicate counterfeiting. Just like texts that contain exaggerated outbursts of emotion. In general, the following applies: The more reviews a product or service has received, the more likely it is that the overall picture of the assessments is realistic. In the case of high expenditure, customers should always use several sources to get a reliable impression of the quality of the offer.

Always cheap?

Comparison is just as important. Price comparisons in search engines can be worth more than conspicuous special offers. Many savings offers and prices are based on a comparison with manufacturers' recommended retail prices. Samples of the German consumer association "Verbraucherzentrale" NRW have shown in recent years that the average price reductions on discount days, for example, instead of the promised 50 percent or more, often amount to less than 20 percent.

Identify reputable online stores

Every serious online shop has an imprint, which is usually at the end of the homepage. The address of the company should be listed there, as well as an indication of how a customer can contact the company.
Check whether your data is passed on to third parties. If this is the case, you should refrain from making a purchase. The contact information should also be found in the general terms and conditions, as on the start page of an online shop.
If a certificate can be found on the shop's website, it was checked by a seal of approval provider. Seals of approval often provide the assurance that certain services such as warranty claims and customer service are provided. But not every seal on the Internet offers the quality it promises.
Particularly in the case of sensitive data such as credit card numbers, it is important to make sure that the online shop transmits the data in encrypted form. The standard is the so-called SSL encryption.
Whether an online shop uses a secure method is indicated in the browser by the fact that a small lock appears to the left of the Internet address. Often there are also messages like "You have requested a protected document..." or "You are about to display pages via a secure connection...".
For online shopping, the same rights apply to buyers and sellers as for local shopping. The customer is thus entitled to a 14-day right of withdrawal. If you aren’t happy with the article, it can be returned without giving reasons within the statutory deadline. The obligation to provide a warranty for products also applies. In case of a defect a repair can be requested.
Sustainability in e-commerce

However, online shopping does not only mean finding the cheapest and supposedly "best" product. Online trading also means: Every product is shipped. In addition, there is the marketing strategy of many large online retailers to make themselves popular with their customers through a convenient return policy. Returns mean multiple transport routes and new packaging. All this increases ecological costs and damages the environment.

Sustainable consumption

Environmental and sustainability awareness is therefore no longer a new trend in e-commerce. According to a study by the German Institute for Retail Research (ECC Cologne) , sustainability measures of online shops are becoming increasingly important for consumers. They provide customers with a high benefit for themselves when, for example, the range of goods on offer is more durable and thus more economical. On the other hand, it is important for many consumers today that sustainable and fairly traded products have a positive impact on the environment, thereby strengthening social standards in other producing countries.

Read more in the "Digital shopping" dossier.
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