It’s December again and with it comes the joys of parties and gatherings. However, it also comes with the stresses of preparing for these activities and buying the perfect gifts for your loved ones. If you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, better start now! Soon, there’s no avoiding the Christmas rush.
Thankfully, we live at a time when we don’t have to be bound by the brick and mortar ways of shopping. We need don’t need to go to a physical store to buy something we want. We can do it at the convenience of our homes (or by the beach). We are also no longer limited to what’s available here for our needs. Thanks to technology, we can already do our shopping with our fingers clicking away at our favorite devices. Let’s go (online) shopping!
For the uninitiated, online shopping may be a scary thing. There are many horror stories of banks accounts getting hacked, purchases not getting delivered, and goods arriving damaged to highlight a few. So how then do you do start doing it and prevent mishaps from happening?
Go for legitimate and secured sites. One of the issues faced by unassuming online shoppers is that they fall for attractive online promotions. While that is a good practice to save on expenses, if you are new to online shopping, then it’s best to first buy from known and secured sites. This ensures that others cannot get your details while you are online. One way to check this is to look for the padlock icon usually located in the upper left hand of the browser. Another way is to check if the site begins with https:// (instead of just http://) which signifies that the site is secure (that’s what the S in https stands for) and the interaction between you and the site is encrypted. Go for known online sites like amazon.com vs unknown ones offering the best deals ever. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is
Check the fine print. While there are many online shopping sites, not all ship to this region. It can be quite frustrating to go thru the whole process only to belatedly realize that they don’t ship here. Or if they do, the shipping fees are too exorbitant! You should also check if the site offers tiered pricing depending on how fast you want your purchase delivered. Lastly, check the return and refund policies to make sure you are well protected in case something happens to your goods.
Pay securely. Your best bet is to pay thru credit cards and secure online payment services such as PayPal. Don’t use debit cards. As a general rule, credit cards and online payment services are more secure since they don’t actually contain your bank details and there are exposure limits for most credit cards.
Relax and wait. Once you’re done with your transaction, you should get a confirmation or receipt of purchase thru email or whatever contact method you chose. Most reliable sites also have tracking methods which you can check at any time. It’s pretty cool.
If you don’t want to go all out on online shopping, you can try it slowly. One would be to check out which stores on Guam offer shop online with instore pickup option. More established local brands such as Crowns Guam (crownsguam.com) and Fokai (fokaistuff.com) offer this.
You can also buy items from locally-owned online shops. Try merchandiser sites like Jennifer Senne’s Chloe + Isabel Boutique (chloeandisabel.com/boutique/jennesseycollection). Here, you have the option to pay online, get in touch directly, or even have pop-up shopping parties at home. Or try tobikogo.com, locally-owned by partners Gary Sung and Patrick Sherman, which connects consumers to brands that don’t ship to Guam and the Marianas. This site works like an online shop, but with a strong logistics back-end platform that does the work for you to ship your goods here. It carries known brands like IKEA, Target, Costco, Tiger Direct and others. It will also soon connect local entrepreneurs to the global market thru the platform.
Lastly, if you still want to go to a physical store and want the best deals available, try downloading Guam Visitors Bureau’s free ShopGuam app from Google Play or Apple App store. It showcases offers from more than 300 participating merchants. Just check out the shop you want to buy from, go there, and show the QR code in the app for great discounts.
Regardless of your shopping option, it’s best to choose what’s most convenient for your own needs. Online or not, the perfect gifts for your loved ones are out there. This is me, just letting you in on some tips on how to make it easier. Happy shopping! And may we all have a blessed Christmas!
Joy Santamarina is a regional business consultant specializing in the telecommunications, media and technology (TMT) industry. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org