And it looks like you lot are just starting – the Malaysian e-commerce market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 24% to 2021.1
What do you like to buy online? Travel seems to be a darling with 39% of Malaysians spending their money online on holidays, followed by consumer electronics (17.3%), and furniture and household goods (13%).1 And it seems we’re just as happy shopping online from local stores as we are from overseas websites.1
Locally, our favourite online shopping sites include Lazada, 11 street and Shopee, while the top three countries we shop overseas are China, Singapore and Japan.1
There’s good reason many of us are choosing to do our shopping online rather than in person. Shopping online can be fast, economical and very convenient. The recent health crisis that has kept us at home a lot more has probably introduced more of us to the convenience of shopping online as well. However, before you set yourself loose onto the internet marketplace, there are some tips about online shopping you should know. A smart online shopper can save time and money, but it’s important you don’t get caught out by scams or find yourself stuck with clothes that don’t fit.
Here are tips to help you make the most of your online shopping.
Take your time
If you find something you really want, add it to your shopping basket and sit on it for a few days.2 Retailers track shopper activities, so many will nudge you with an email, and may even throw in a discount code, to motivate you to commit to the purchase.2 It makes waiting well worth it.2
Prices and discounts also fluctuate throughout the year.3 According to Lifehacker website, you’re more likely to find the most discounts in November and January, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays.3 March is the worst month for finding discounts – so if you’re thinking about making a major purchase online, you may want to give the month a miss.3
Voucher codes and coupons are your best friend
Using voucher codes and coupons can make online shopping genuinely cheaper.2 Imagine getting 20% off all your purchases just for signing up to a site.2 You can make what is already usually less expensive online shopping even more enjoyable and cheaper with some tips and tricks.2 With retailers desperately competing for customers, you can often take full advantage of cashback sites, voucher codes and price comparisons.2 Before you buy anything from an online store, you can even quickly Google-search the name of the company for any discounts or coupons available.3 There’s a good chance you may find a voucher or coupon code to apply to your purchase.3
Read the reviews
Product reviews can be incredibly helpful when you’re making online purchases – especially if you’re buying a product or a brand you are not familiar with.3 Reviews can tell you if the product looks the way it does in photos or how it holds up over time.3 For clothes especially, they can give you valuable information about fit.3 Pay attention to patterns – if reviewer after reviewer says that a shirt runs small or that a chair that looks blue online is actually grey in reality, believe them.3
But, remember to read reviews with a pinch of salt.3 Most of the time, customer reviews can be really helpful, but sometimes they can be fake as well.3 Practice some healthy scepticism of online reviews.3 Spot fakes by keeping an eye out for reviews that are exceedingly enthusiastic or overly specific.3 If a product has a lot of reviews and they are all positive, that should raise alarm bells as well.3
Be wary of newsletter and email list sign-ups
Often when you visit a shopping website, you’ll get a pop-up asking you to sign up for the site’s newsletter in exchange for an offer coupon or discount code.3 Or in many cases, you’ll automatically be signed up for email lists when you purchase something from an online store.3 While taking advantage of discount coupons may be a great way to save money, the emails you end up receiving may do more harm than good.3
The constant flow of emails prompt us to check out new products and sales when we otherwise wouldn’t, and can create a want or need where there isn’t one.3 For those who lack self-control, this could lead to more spending than necessary.3 Unsubscribing from email lists is a great way to decrease your desire to shop online.3
Avoid counterfeits and scams
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.3 You should remember this mantra when shopping online.3 Counterfeits are common online even on well-known sites like Amazon. It can be difficult to spot fakes online, but using common sense helps.3 Choose to buy directly from brands’ online stores rather than third parties and be suspicious of prices that seem unrealistically low.3 If it feels “off”, shop somewhere else.3
Now that you’re better informed to be a smarter online shopper, go forth and happy shopping…
PRACTICE SAFE ONLINE SHOPPING
As you shop online, it’s important to stay safe by using some common sense and following some practical advice.
Verify website security
Most online shopping websites offer secure shopping these days.4 But if they don’t, lurking criminals can capture all the information you enter into forms on those sites including your personal and credit card information.4 Choose to shop on secure sites. You can tell if a site is secure by the URL.4 A secure website address starts with https:// instead of http://. Secure sites also have a small lock icon to the left of the URL.4
Don’t shop on a shared device or in public
Do your online shopping at home on your computer or smart phone.4 At home, you know who accesses your devices.4 If you’re using a shared computer or public network to do your shopping – at the library, in a cafe or at work – you have no control over who else might be using that device or network.4 Nor can you control what kind of spyware or malware might be infecting that computer.4 So, it’s much safer to shop at home where you know both your device and network are secure.4
Create strong passwords
According to a survey by PCMag in Australia, 35% of people never change their passwords.5 If you are like one of these people, make sure you are using uncrackable passwords.5 It is especially important when you are doing online banking and shopping.5 But sometimes, even your perfect password may not be perfect.5 The smarter move is to use a password manager to create virtually uncrackable passwords for you.5 The software will also keep track of your passwords and enter them – so you won’t have to worry about remembering all your passwords.5
Check statements regularly
With online banking, you don’t need to wait till the end of the month to check your statements.5 For example, you can log into HSBC online banking or the mobile banking app to view your credit card, debit card and bank account statements online.5 Look for any fraudulent charges, even originating from payment sites like PayPal.5 If you see something wrong, pick up the phone and call the bank to address the matter quickly.5
HSBC EVERYDAY GLOBAL VISA DEBIT CARD
1. J.P. Morgan, E-commerce payment trends: Malaysia, 2019.
2. The Telegraph, How to become an online shopping pro, 22 March 2017.
3. Bustle.com, 11 things you need to know about online shopping to get your full money’s worth, 21 March 2017.
4. The Balance, How to protect your identity when shopping online, 23 November 2019.
5. PCMag Australia, 14 tips for safe online shopping, 13 November 2018.
6. Protected by Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia up to RM250,000 for each depositor.
7. Applicable to successful retail purchases, online shopping and cash withdrawals performed with Visa Debit Card under the supported currencies only. For supported currencies: If you do not have sufficient foreign currency to complete a transaction, we will convert at prevailing rate as determined by the bank and bill you in Ringgit Malaysia. For unsupported currencies: The entire transaction amount shall be converted at a prevailing rate as determined by Visa International and billed to you in Ringgit Malaysia, except for cash withdrawals performed via HSBC Group ATMs (GATS) which the withdrawn amount will be automatically converted to Ringgit Malaysia at the prevailing rate as determined by the bank.