Tips for shopping online

protect your privacy while shopping online

Online shopping in Canada is on the rise, despite still being overshadowed by the U.S. online market, according to a study by the JC Williams group.

Canadians are shopping more frequently on the Internet than ever before with about a third of consumers who shopped online in the past six months making at least five purchases and 68 percent making one to four purchases, the survey indicated.

And a full 87 percent of respondents said they were pleased with their online experience, compared with 76 percent satisfaction with shopping offline.

E-marketer reports that according to Statistics Canada, e-commerce generated CAD $39.2 billion in sales in 2005, a 38.4 percent increase from 2004. Also, the number of Canadian retailers that have a website increased from 38 percent in 2004, to 42 percent in 2005.

And even when consumers purchase at a traditional “brick and mortar” store, the Internet plays a vital role. Over 60 percent of respondents said they go online to search for categories such as automobiles and auto accessories, appliances, furniture, home and garden and food/groceries before purchasing these items offlne.

There can be little doubt that shopping online has its benefits. You can shop at all hours (and in all weather) while curled up in an arm chair. The global marketplace is literally at your finger tips, offering a far wider range of products than you’ll find even in big city stores. And these days, even ordering from abroad is relatively hassle-free. Best of all, in some cases, you’ll beat the street price.

And improved technology allows us to click “Check Out” with greater confidence. With zoom functions and 360° views, shoppers are more informed about product features. Of course, there’s always some risk involved, but then again, “purchase regret” is certainly not limited to online shopping.

E-tail tips from

1. Security first. Don’t make any purchase from a website that does not have a secure payment system. Look for a padlock logo on the checkout page indicating a secure site before typing in your credit card number.

2. Get out the measuring tape. If you are buying items in UK or Continental sites, make sure you understand the sizes and the North American equivalent.

3. Mind the details. Make sure you understand shipping costs, whether duties are included and what your rights are with regards to returns.

4. Know your designer. Sizes vary from designer to designer, so bear this in mind when shopping online. If you’re splurging on a new designer, do your homework to ascertain what size you’ll be. It will save you time, hassle and money in the long run.

5. Keep it convenient. Have your parcels shipped to work (especially if there are no duties), so you don’t have to waste time running to the post office.

6. Consider using an intermediary service. If you fall in love with a U.S. site that does not serve Canada, check out For a fee, based on order value and other variables, they will act as an intermediary service, allowing goods to be sent to them and on to you. As always, take the time to read the full terms and conditions before engaging this service.