If you choose to shop online exclusively, avoid impulse buying and do your homework.
If you choose to shop online exclusively, avoid impulse buying and do your homework. iStock

Don't get caught in the web

More than a quarter of Australians now regularly shop online, with our total online sales now more than $1.95billion a month according to NAB. One of the biggest categories is homewares, which makes sense, as there's no need to try on that lamp, cushion or chair.

There is a vast amount of product information you can access online, with a growing number of sophisticated apps and viewing options. But it does have its downside. I recently bought online but the retailer sent the wrong item. Two hours of my life later and minus the cost of additional postage, I am rethinking, given a substantial number of online purchases have disappointed.

The best strategy is to combine the ease of online (with the delivery option) with in-store research. This especially applies if you're considering a big-ticket item, as it's hard to surpass the genuine retail experience of seeing, touching and even trying the products in store.

Many larger stores are combating the exclusively online stores by offering greater service - having stylists assist and offering affordable, flexible delivery.

If you shop exclusively online, my suggestion is to avoid impulse buying and do your homework. Is the product available at numerous sites? Which offers the best price, service and return policies? Consumer rights in Australia apply to all purchases. If things go wrong online, assert your rights and contact your state consumer authority.


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