Amazon's Prime Day sale begins on July 16. The 36-hour sale will be exclusively available to Prime members only. The main idea behind such sales is to entice people - many of them first time online shoppers - to sign up for Amazon Prime membership. Sales like the Prime Day, often become an entry point for a lot of first-time shoppers to try out the marketplace.
Over the last several years, buying electronics online has become much easier and cost-effective. Online marketplaces now offer a wide range of electronics at highly attractive prices. But you still need to be a little careful while purchasing your expensive gadgets online. We've all heard stories where customers ended up with bricks and stones instead of smartphones.
While there has been a significant decline in the number of such cases, there are still plenty of horror stories that go around. Online marketplaces and their logistics partners have come up with ways to eliminate such problems. But you don't want to leave it up to them. Follow a few simple tips and tricks, and you'll never go through such problems.
We've prepared a simple guide for those who are looking to buy electronics online for the first time.
Select the right online store
This is pretty basic. The online store you pick for your purchase will define your entire shopping experience. How do you pick the right online store? For starters, the biggest online marketplaces are one of the safest places to buy electronics online - Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm Mall, and others are on top of the list.
If you're planning on buying electronics during Amazon's Prime Day sale, you could start by adding products to your wish list on Amazon. If the items you've added get a discount, you'll receive a push notification from Amazon's mobile app. This can make it easier to track products.
However, you should still compare prices across other stores. Most of the biggest online stores maintain a similar pricing for the largest selling electronics. That won't apply to products that are exclusive to them though.
Each online marketplace has its own set of advantages (and in some cases disadvantages too). For example, Paytm Mall will sometimes offer you the lowest effective prices, but you can't pick a cash-on-delivery payment method.
Prices, especially for electronics, fluctuate all the time at online marketplaces. Sometimes these prices go up and down several times in a single day. Ideally, the best time to purchase electronics online is during the festive season or other promotional sales.
Pick the right seller
All the major online stores are effectively marketplaces. This means you're not directly buying from the online store. You're getting a product from a seller while the online marketplace is acting as a middleman. The marketplace takes care of most of the things including customer care, packaging, shipping, etc.
Seller ratings are the most obvious first things to consider. Most online marketplaces will display ratings on a scale of five. You can also dive deep into a seller's online profile to find out what their previous customers posted about their experiences. Sellers with ratings above 4 (out of 5) are generally considered safe.
When you're buying on Amazon, click on the seller's name to see their complete feedback. You'll be able to view previous customer feedback along with comments and seller's policies around returns, shipping, and more.
Another easy way to identify better sellers, which most first-time online shoppers miss, is the marketplace-fulfilled partners. These sellers come under the Amazon Fulfilled, Flipkart Assured, etc., programs. These sellers ship their products to the online marketplace for storage which then forwards it to the customers.
Beware of listings from sellers labelled as 'new'. At times, you'll find extremely attractive deals being offers by such newly registered sellers. Avoid them at all costs, no matter how sweet the deal looks.
What if something goes wrong?
Even if you're extremely careful while ordering online, there's still that odd chance of something or the other going wrong. You may end up with a broken package or your order may get delayed, all these are absolutely normal problems faced by a lot of online shoppers.
There are various ways to deal with them, depending on the online store you picked. For example: if something went wrong with your order on Amazon, the best way to reach out to the company is by dropping an e-mail. You can easily do this via the Amazon website or the app, from the customer service page.
On the website, visit the customer service page, and under 'Browse Help Topics' select customer service and click on the 'Contact Us' button. On the next page, you'll be able to select an order and choose between an online chat and an e-mail. Both work equally well in getting a quick response from the Amazon customer service team.
In case you picked Flipkart, the best way to reach them is to call them or simply send them a direct message on Twitter. These aren't the only ways to reach out to their support teams, but these are the fastest ways to get your issues resolved.
Most online marketplaces now do not offer simple returns. However, you can still get replacements for select products within 10 days of purchase if something went wrong. Keep in mind, once you've received your order, you can only get a replacement and not a full refund (applicable for almost all electronics products).
Disclosure: Paytm's parent company One 97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.
Will Amazon Prime Day 2018 sale be bigger than its Diwali sale? We discussed that on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.