Melody Dexter, Founder of Omika
In 2016, Australians spent $21billion on online retail, with 24% of this spent on fashion (NAB 2017). Online shopping is incredibly convenient, it’s fast and opens up a vast banquet of shopping choices. Without an online store, Omika would struggle to reach the majority of our customers who have been searching for a store which caters to their specific needs: conservative, yet stylish dresses which align with their values.
Shopping online, of course, is not without its challenges. A common fear when shopping online is being unsure of how safe the website is, whether your credit card details will be safe, and if you’ll receive the product you’re expecting, or receive the product at all.
We live in a wonderful world where anyone can create a website within minutes, and take payment within the hour. Whilst this obviously has benefits, without a discerning eye, being surrounded by too much choice can make life difficult.
If you’re a female and active on Facebook or Instagram, it’s likely you’ve come across advertisements and posts for gorgeous clothing at rock bottom prices. You may have clicked on their website link and been frozen with awe as you browsed through their “millions” of dresses, tops, skirts, pants etc, all heavily discounted. Perhaps you have seen an image blatantly taken from another store, and posted on an overseas based website, selling the same dress for a fraction of the price? One of our customers has, and we thank her for letting us know.
Before we started Omika, we researched our industry. We came across an online store which claimed to offer millions of beautiful dresses, at ridiculously cheap prices. The key words being, “ridiculously” and “cheap”. It took a few moments to realise something was not quite right. A quick search for their reviews resulted in literally hundreds of negative reviews from customers. Comments such as products not arriving, large ink stains on clothing, never receiving a refund, emails were being blocked, dress wasn’t made according to the measurements, lopsided stitching, unusually small sizes, being unable to contact the store and not being able to resolve a faulty product. Positive reviews were the exception, with excessive numbers of customers reporting a negative experience.
Reading this article, you may be starting to feel uneasy about shopping online, however, the internet offers valuable opportunities to do good and to make life easier, we shouldn’t be dissuaded from shopping online or using the internet because of the malicious intentions of others.
Fortunately, there are five easy steps you can follow to shop safely online:
1. Shop from a secure location and secure device.
a. Don’t shop online using public wi-fi or public computers.
b. Ensure your computer, tablet or mobile is up to date with antivirus and malware protection.
c. Choose strong passwords and change them often.
2. Check the website is secure.
a. Check the domain is the actual domain for the store. For example, Omika is https://www.omika.com.au. Fraudulent individuals could mislead you by creating a scam website, by adding extra letters or words to our web address. If in doubt, type the URL directly into your browser’s address bar.
b. Check for a padlock in the address bar and “https://” at the start of the web address. The letter “s” is crucial – https connections are encrypted, which means your credit card details, personal information and passwords are safe. Here’s an example below. This padlock may look different on other browsers such as Safari and Firefox.
3. Research the seller.
a. Check their website for contact information. Do they provide more information besides a contact form? Are you able to contact them before purchasing, to make sure it is easy to get in touch with them? Compare their physical location with their web address – is their web address a com.au but their physical address overseas? If you call or email them, does someone reply and actually answer your query?
b. Are they reputable?
i. Look for reviews. Check for online reviews on their website and more importantly, off their website. Often with irreputable stores, you will find hundreds of complaints of products not arriving, customers being unable to contact the seller, products taking too long to arrive or are not as described online. Check their Facebook page for Visitor Posts – look at the left hand menu, click on “Posts”. Look at the right hand side at Visitor Posts. If there are none – ask yourself why? Companies can delete visitor comments from their social media page and block users, effectively hiding any negative reviews or feedback.
At Omika we have a policy of transparency – we approve every customer review on our website, regardless of whether it was positive, or in rare cases, negative. Many businesses, particularly large ones (just look up your broadband provider) are likely to have a few negative reviews, but when a business has hundreds of negative reviews, it’s time to consider if it’s worth risking your money.
ii. Look at their product range. Are their prices dramatically low – too good to be true? If so, they probably are too good to be true, you are likely to receive a product that isn’t made well, or made with poor quality materials. Look for severely discounted products such as “Was $299, now $29” or websites which have most of their products highly discounted. Be cautious with these stores.
iii. Does the store tell you who is behind the business? Does their website, blog, social media or other publication show who stands behind the store? Business owners and leaders often show who is behind the business, so you can know that there is a real person behind it all – someone who is willing to put their name and reputation at the forefront and be accountable, honest and act in the best interests of their customers. With Omika you’ll find my name throughout our website, blog, and social media pages, and you’ll find Omika on all of my social media pages including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
iv. Check for poor grammar, spelling and low quality images. Businesses should always be expected to act in a professional manner – including quality grammar and spelling, and the publication of a high quality website with high quality images. Be cautious if images are blurry, inconsistent, taken with low light or if you have seen the images elsewhere.
4. Check the store’s terms and conditions.
a. Check the process for exchanges and refunds. Who will pay the return shipping and where will you be sending it to? Returning a product within Australia is much simpler and more affordable than having to post internationally. A number of stores don’t offer exchange as an option and offer refunds in exceptional circumstances only.
b. Shop from an Australian based store to be protected Australian Consumer Law. This means you are less likely to lose your money as you will have support when it comes to resolving a situation. For example, in Australia, stores are required by law to offer you a refund, replacement or repair if your product is incorrect, unsafe, damaged or significantly different from the image or description.
c. Check if the store offers postal tracking within the business as well as through the delivery company. When you shop at Omika, you can log in to see the status of your order, such as if it has been shipped or not. Once it’s been shipped, we also send you a tracking number. Your package is scanned multiple times enroute to your location – Australia Post allows you to view where your package is, they even tell you the day it is due to arrive and allow you to select a Safe Drop option.
5. Consider the payment method.
a. Paying by Paypal or credit card are generally the safest options. Paying by other means such as money order or bank transfer offers you little protection and it will be much more difficult to get your funds back, if needed.
b. Take note of any payment symbols on their website. Remember that anyone can copy an image, such a Paypal logo and add it to their website. Displaying a “secure payment” logo, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean they are reliable and secure. Whilst it is a good sign to have these logos, remember that they can be used fraudulently and shouldn’t be the only basis for your judgement on whether it is a trustworthy store.
c. Don’t give more information than you need to. In most cases, online stores should not be asking for excessive information, such as your date of birth – protect this to prevent identity theft.
There is much to love about shopping online – endless choice, shopping on the go or at home in your pyjamas and having your goods delivered right to your door. For many consumers, it means you can access products and services that you would otherwise not be able to, such as clothing from our Perth based store, Omika. Stay vigilant, take a few steps to stay safe online and your shopping experience will be more likely to be a happy one.
References and useful links
Scamwatch (Run by the ACCC)
Omika dresses women with confidence to live courageous, purpose driven lives.
Omika ships modest dresses worldwide from Perth, Australia.
Visit our store at http://www.omika.com.au.