Online shopping is beginning to take shape in Africa, particularly in Uganda. You can now buy cars, order food and buy all sorts of other products online in Uganda. However, the internet can also a wild jungle with predators who might want to turn your cash into prey.
Here are 10 tips to help you.
Use the best anti-malware program your computer
Make sure you are using the best anti-malware program and its virus signatures are constantly updated. Also, ensure your firewall is on when using a public wireless network and your own wireless network is encrypted with a password to prevent anyone outside from collecting information.
Shop from online merchants with a good reputation
Ensure you know the online store’s physical address and you can walk into their office if there is a problem to be sorted.
If you have friends who have purchased from the site before, you can be re-assured by their trust too.
If the store is new, or not reputable conduct your own research by looking at the site’s reviews, customer complaints on social media pages also, ask around. If no one knows about it, don’t use it.
Don’t use a public computer unless you really have to
Public computers such as those at an internet cafe or even the ones at your workplace used by several other people must be used with caution when shopping online. There are possibilities that Keyloggers, a type of surveillance software that has the capability to record every keystroke you make on your keyboard are installed tap your login details in a PC you don’t own. Also don’t forget to logout from your account from a public PC.
Create a unique/strong password for online account
You will be required to create an account with the site you intend to purchase from. Make sure the password is strong and unique, passwords like 1234 or those that start with a short form of your name like Ken1234 should be avoided.
Avoid ‘Extremely good offers’
If a store offers too good deals like extremely low prices, be suspicious. During mega sales/flash sales, most E-commerce sites will offer ‘incredible’ discounts but just for limited quantity of products and time.
Also look for discount coupon codes that can significantly lower your purchasing price.
Don’t give too much information
After opening an account with an e-commerce company, expect to give the same information in future purchases e.g. telephone number, email address, shipping address, method of payment.
If asked for suspicious information like bank account details, driver’s license numbers, spouse or family information. Run!!!!
Check the company’s shipping, warranty and return policy
Ensure the shipping fee charged is reasonable for the product you buy and the distance. The return and exchange policy should be flexible with a time limit of at least 7 days. Be sure that the warranty policy is sensible and applicable.
Use a reputable method of payment to pay for products
Some E-commerce sites will offer cash on delivery payment method within certain geographical location, if you are beyond those regions, use payment methods that provide you proof of payment like Mobile money transfer and Credit cards.
Credit card vs Debit card- a credit card will have a spending limit while your debit card –linked to your bank account does not. If your credit card financial information is stolen, your money at the bank remains untouched- most debit cards do not offer this advantage.
Print or save a copy of your orders
It’s advisable to keep a documentation of your online purchases. You will receive a confirmation email with the order number. Print, take a screen shot and save till you receive the product. Follow up if the item is not shipped within 10 days without prior communication.
Download shopping apps created by trusted developers
Many of the big online retailers in Kenya have created apps that allow you to shop conveniently and compare prices, read reviews on your smartphone or tablet. Ensure you download the legitimate app and have a mobile anti-malware for viruses and spyware.