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Limitations to online shopping faced by international customers

International Shopping

May 10, 2020 · 6 min read

Shopping is fun in our day and the experience is getting better and better as we find more opportunities to search for and hand pick our favorite objects in the comfort of our homes. We no longer have to physically travel to stores, spend hours browsing through thousands of products, and wait in the queue to pay for our purchases. We filter and sort on the websites of stores and can complete an online purchase in less than a minute.

Of course, this scenario is only relevant if everything goes right. Despite all of its convenience, online shopping can become annoying too, and may have unexpected outcomes.

Let’s look at a few aspects that seem to trouble shoppers (especially those who shop from overseas) as they look for their needs.

Common problems faced by online shoppers

1. Deficiency in product quality

When we shop online, the best and sometimes the only reference we have to what the product looks like in reality is the image presented on the site. With the technology of our day, images can be highly manipulated to blear our eyes. We may fancy what we see on the website but the actual product can be nothing like it. That is why still for many people, touching and feeling the item is indispensable.

The following aspects can be deceptive in the pictures:

The actual size and proportion

Even when the size information is available in the description section, we tend to pay more attention to the picture and the relative proportion presented there. Whereas sometimes the object is shown exclusively, in some cases the object is shown in relation to other items.

In the clothing or jewelry categories, the display is in its maximum effectiveness when the object is worn on a model. Yet, this is not always what we are offered. Often, we are presented with solitary items on a plain background and we take our chances as we select. And on other occasions, items shown on models can be tricky, simply because of the unrealistic bodily proportions of the model.

The actual color

It is almost impossible to get the right color as we shop online. There are always minor differences and stores are not always the ones to blame for that! Sometimes, even when the colors on the website are almost 100% true to their original, we cannot recognize them due to the color settings and the default brightness level on our devices.

It is wise to keep your device in its maximum brightness and make sure that you are not using a special coloring range on your screen. Also, always keep your eyes on the comments and review section under each item. If there is a significant difference between the image and the product, buyers usually warn others.

Here is a super funny compilation on Bored Panda listing cases when online shopping truly failed.

2. Scam and fraud

We are continuously bombarded with ads, special deals, and many attractive offers. It is hard to tell which seller is trustworthy and which is not. The safest option is to always stick with sellers listed under reliable and big-name retailers or shop directly from accreditable stores.

Followers and fan numbers on social media can be deceptive. You shouldn’t directly assume that a seller is credible just because they have 100K subscribers. Always do your research on brands before you shop from them.

3. Payment related issues

It is very practical to pay in a snap when you are shopping online, but sometimes online stores don’t offer payment systems and options that are preferable. In the past, payment by credit card was the only option. Debit cards followed this. However, today an online store should offer more than a card integrated system to keep up with the demands of its customers.

Other popular and wanted systems are:

  • Digital wallets (Paypal, Alipay, Apple Pay)
  • Bank transfers
  • Direct Debit
  • Virtual cards and currency
  • Coupons and store gift cards

When we don’t see our preferred payment system in the options, we naturally tend to abort our purchase and abandon our shopping cart.

Another issue related to payment comes with online sales made by direct messages on social media. Lately, we encounter an immense growth in the number of profiles that promote and sell their products on Instagram without having an actual store or business location in place.

Mainly very original and crafty products are offered by those creative accounts, but online payment by a bank transfer is tricky when all you have is a message thread to keep you assured. Next time, when someone calls you to a DM for a purchase, think twice because you may not be able to trace your money back when you don’t receive the product or simply want to return it.

4. Privacy issues related to data processing

As we browse through items, different stores, and type in what we are looking for on search tabs, our search and browse data are tracked. Generally, this data is used to target us with relevant and customized ad materials. We have all seen items we searched for keep coming at us in ads form until we buy them!

But data tracking is not limited to this. Sometimes, the data is used for mining, meaning that it is utilized for research purposes and to make sense of our behavior and taste. It still sounds quite innocent. In fact, some companies can use this data to present different prices to you and some companies may be leaking personal information.

If you are worried about your privacy, you can start using browser extensions or encryption tools that will stop trackers and make your Internet experience faster.

5. Package and shipping problems

Delivery and logistics are huge issues and sources of common complaints in online shopping. Packages can arrive later than expected or they can be lost or damaged on the way. Often, delivery times are also not exact and chances of actually getting your package when you are at home are low. Most of us have to drive to the courier branch and spend more time and money to meet our bought products.

On top of this, shopping from overseas requires waiting for extra days (and in some cases weeks!). You are lucky if your country falls in the shipping zones and even if it does, international shipping can be very expensive.

To eliminate the negative aspects of international shipping, you can team up with a package forwarding service provider. By using Forward.me, you can have your purchased items shipped to the US mailbox address provided to you for free. Later on, your package will be safely and swiftly sent to you wherever you are located in the world! To have a better idea about the advantages of using a reshipping partner, visit [our article].