Black Friday Sales: Shoppers’ Guide

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The 2017 ‘Black Friday’ deal is here and as usual, both online and offline platforms have started buying in the hope of connecting more with their actual and prospective consumers in their mouth-watery offers.
Black Friday is defined as the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Traditionally, it is the day on which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are in the black. On this day, variety of products ranging from mobile phones, electronics, apparel, cosmetics and toys, among others are usually available at their lowest prices of the year. Although, the deal is originally planned to be a one-day event which for this year is November 24, most brands across the globe have altered the original design as most shopping now starts prior to and end far before or after the globally-appointed date.

For instance in Nigeria, Konga sales began on the 6th and ended 10th November while for Jumia, the deal is expected to commence on November 13 through December 13.
For most of the activities in the Black Friday window, the online shop is the commonest market place where sellers and buyers relate. Most shoppers usually consider the virtual shops largely because of its convenience characteristics such as ability to check and compare prices with just few clicks, shopping round the clock, saves time and other resources, fast, non-persuasive and discreet, etc.

The business model certainly comes with exciting offerings but not without some weaknesses and threats.
As there are heart-warming testimonies from users, so also are heart-breaking stories some of which are counterfeit products, delayed delivery, high price, return and refund dispute, communication gap, and falling prey to online scams, amongst others. A recent survey published by ‘Trusted’ revealed that 47% of customers already had a negative online shopping experience.

While this article is not meant to discourage users from patronising the click and mortar shops, ‘Market place’ offers some useful online shopping guides and tips gathered from experts to feed online buyers, especially this season of give-away prices, where consumers are expected to hit sellers’ websites like never before. This is to further familiarise shoppers with the platform and enlighten most, especially first-time users, for them to have an overall memorable and complaint-free shopping experience this season.

Before you make your buying decision
Make sure you are patronising trusted and familiar brands
With the proliferation of online shops and absence of regulations in the industry, anyone whether with honest or shady motives may set up an internet shop. It is advisable to make an extensive enquiry on a store that one is not familiar with before patronage, not only because of products quality, but to be sure and confident that such a platform has robust security measures. Also, look for relevant information about the company on its websites. But if there is any need to buy from such a platform at all, it will be smart to test such with a small order before making a huge purchase.

Do Further Research on Trusted Brands
Even with trusted brands, it is advisable to learn more about the company either through review or social media e.g Naira land. Brands who value their customers are more likely to be engaged online because they understand the importance of being transparent. Finding out if a brand is trustworthy, payment gateways and what others are saying about the brand reduces chances of risk.

Read Product/Service Review
Learn from other people’s comment on the same product or service about to be purchased. A lot of consumers leave honest reviews about a product (i.e. true to size, came as depicted, etc.) or a service (excellent customer service, was satisfied, was disappointed, etc.); that can help influence the decision to click and buy or otherwise

Look For Online Deals
Online shopping gives one the ability to cross-compare prices across multiple websites for one to get the best deal. Look into different coupon sites and see discount codes other consumers have to share.

Check Return Policy and delivery date
Since the model is such that do not permit buyers to physically see or test an item before purchase, there are possibilities that buyers may find some items dissatisfactory and want to return such. This is why it is pertinent to check and thoroughly understand a company’s return policy as to know the risk of what is being bought.

Be Wary Of Dodgy Offers that are too Good to be True
Consider that adage that says, ‘If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is’ when buying online. Aside the fact that scams use extremely cheap prices and tempting offers to lure unsuspecting consumers, counterfeit products are also often sold at a price considerably lower than the actual price. Since Black Friday season is characterised by amazing offers, shoppers are therefore cautioned to be doubly vigilant.

Assess the General layout of a Website
Most of the websites selling counterfeit products do not look very professional. They often have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, poor quality pictures of the products being sold or of the logos for the means of payment, etc. Do not trust websites whose URL links the name of a brand with terms such as “cheap”, “outlet” or other expressions suggesting low prices.

Check Sellers Privacy Policy
Consumers have the right to know the personal information the websites have access to, why, and how they are going to use the information. This must clearly be stated, otherwise, it raises room for suspicion.

Pay With Credit Card or Opt for Payment on Delivery
As a general rule, credit cards, in comparison to debit cards, offer consumers additional protection when shopping online. The main advantage of the latter is that a credit card account is in no way linked to whatever funds a shopper owned. Besides, credit cards may have a limit on the monetary amount a shopper will be responsible for paying if information is stolen and used by someone else. It is also advisable to use secure online payment service.

Beware of Your Security
A recent survey report of computer users from IT security experts, Avira, revealed that 70% of consumers either don’t shop online or do so with concerns about their safety while navigating the internet. Shopping online has become much more convenient via mobile payment solutions, but this option has been compromised by hackers, hence, the need for shoppers to establish strict caution when dealing.

Some general tips to secure and maintain one’s privacy and security include double check URLs, the text in the URL is usually preceded by a padlock symbol, use an official online shopping app, use strong and secure password, use a secure network. Others are paying attention to HTTPS protocols, installing free spyware removal tools, knowing how to identify online scams and hoaxes, surfing anonymously, keeping your Web usage private and avoid public WiFi when buying online.

Keep Records
In any case of purchase, it is advisable to print or save records of online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails sent and received from the seller. Read credit card statements and be on the lookout for charges that are not recognised.