More and more people each year are discovering how rewarding it is to do their gift shopping from the comfort of their computer terminal. No more fighting for parking spaces in the mall, or carrying heavy parcels to your car. With some careful planning you can do your entire gift shopping without even leaving your office or your home, at a time that most suits you.
By shopping for gifts online you are broadening the choice of gifts available in your home town. You may live in the mid-West, but this does not stop you from buying gifts from the most sophisticated stores in NY – at least those which have an online presence. Or, go further afield and buy a truly unique handcrafted gift from overseas. These exotic craft gifts will be truly appreciated by the recipient as they show that you have taken the time out to search for a truly fitting gift. Does your best friend have a passion for Australia – then look out for some original Aboriginal art. Or, is your mother-in-law passionate about the Bible – then you can buy her a unique gift hand crafted in the Holy Land.
Here are some tips to help you with your on-line gift shopping:
Make sure that the store is legitimate. Do they have a phone number and a physical address listed on their website? Try ringing the phone number to make sure that it is manned. Is it answered in a professional manner? Or, if you are answered by an answer phone, does someone get back to you promptly? If you prefer, send an online inquiry – how quickly is it replied to? Did you receive a standard response? Or did a customer service representative take the time to read your inquiry and answer you personally? If you can't get good customer service, before making a purchase it is unlikely that you will receive it after parting with your hard earned money.
Check out the return policies, in case you or the recipient wishes to return the gift.
Research the product carefully before buying it. You can use one of the online price comparison sites to make sure that you are getting the best deal. Of course if you are buying unique handcrafted gifts, then you will not be able to do this – but here the Internet gives you an advantage by allowing you to find gifts that are not available close to home. You can use a search engine to find many unique online products in stores that are in English and the prices are quoted are in dollars. If the store does use a local currency, then there are plenty of online currency converters to help you work out its cost in dollars, and you can pay for these gifts with your credit card.
Don't forget to take into account shipping and handling costs. Many stores will give free shipping over a certain amount, so you may wish to consolidate your gift shopping to take advantage of this. By buying out of state, you are saving sales taxes, so this can offset the cost of shipping.
Don't forget to order in advance so that there is adequate delivery time and to avoid having to pay for expensive over-night shipping. You can have the gift sent directly to the recipient if you are not able to deliver it in person. Don't forget to mention this when you order, so that they do not send the invoice or credit card slip to the recipient.
Most online stores will be happy to gift wrap your gift for you, to save you the time and effort. If this is not listed as a service, just ask. Most gift stores will always be happy to go the extra mile for you.
Look for a secure website when purchasing online. Once you have chosen your goods and you have chosen to "check out" you should be taken to a secure website. You can tell that the site is secure as the URL will start with "https" instead of "http". This means that your credit card information is safe and will not be compromised. If you are still not convinced, many online gift stores will let you submit your order online and then will call you to obtain your credit card details or allow you to send them by fax.
Once you have placed your order, it is preferable to print out a record of the order, of if this is not possible then save the information on your computer in a folder labeled "shopping". This will help you follow up if your order does not arrive and you need to follow up with the store.
Hopefully I have convinced you of the merits of online gift shopping and now all that remains is to wish you a Happy and Safe Shopping Experience.