Convenience, less crowds & more to choose from are just three of the advantages of shopping online for Christmas gifts. By doing some of your Christmas shopping online, you can find unique gifts that may not be available through your local retailer, have them shipped right to your front door and avoid the hassles of Christmas shopping lineups.
Instead of killing your shoes (not to mention your feet, legs, and back), online Christmas shopping provides a unique opportunity to buy something special in a comfortable, easy way.
However, there are some things to consider when purchasing items online for gift-giving.
1. Start Early. The last thing you want is to have to pay for super-rush shipping or – worse still – having an item arrive too late. There are too many unknowns when it comes to Christmas shipping, from the demands on the retailer’s shipping department to winter storms that could delay your package just enough to put your delivery in danger.
2. Don’t Attempt To Color Match. Colors on your computer are almost always going to be slightly off from the real thing. This isn’t normally a problem unless you are trying to exactly match something else. Also remember that your computer or mobile device screen displays images made from light, so the actual product may not look the same unless it’s given the right lighting conditions.
3. Check the Return Policy. You need to make sure that the item can be returned after the Holidays, if needed. Look for a 30 day return policy, which provides the time for the item to be ordered, shipped, received and – if needed – returned. But don’t wait too long if you find that something needs to be returned… even though most retailers will cut you some slack around the holidays for returns, that slack doesn’t extend much past the actual Holiday, so if you wait until mid-January to return something, it might be too late.
4. Be Secure. Make sure that the site you are purchasing from has Security Protocols in place to protect your personal and credit card information. Look for this in the checkout flow of the site…
… the https: means the connection you are using is secure. If you are in a checkout flow WITHOUT the https (e.g. http or just www) then your connection is NOT secure, and you should not continue the checkout process.
Most secured sites will also display a time-stamped security seal on their website, usually at the bottom of every page. It should look something like this:
PayPal also offers a secure way to make purchases online so that you give your Credit Card info once (to PayPal) and then they distribute the funds to the store you are purchasing from, without providing your credit card details. Many fine retailers accept PayPal as a payment method, and that’s a definite advantage for the consumer.
5. Be Prepared With a Backup Plan. No matter how much you plan in advance, things happen and sometimes the item you ordered will not quite make it in time. This does not – however – need to lead to a complete disaster. A simple backup plan, such as printing out a decent picture of the item you purchased and including a note saying “Your Present Will Arrive Shortly” is normally enough to satisfy the gift-giving need. Plus, it gives the gift receiver something to look forward to in that down-time between Christmas and New Years.
In the end, the advantages of online Christmas shopping far outweigh the extra steps you need to take to protect yourself and your credit card details.
After all, it’s the Gift that Counts… not necessarily how you went about getting it.