Fake Online Shopping Sites Are Out There. This Is What You Should Know Before Clicking "Buy"
There’s nothing quite like e-commerce to enable our retail therapy needs. We used to have to wait till the weekend, or at least even the end of the work day before we could shop. That was only a few years ago, not even a decade!
Of course today, we know just how quick it can be to buy almost anything we want. You’ve probably done it during work hours, at a meeting, or even during a dinner out. We’re not here to judge.
But with the ease of shopping online comes to real gamble and sometimes danger of buying a dud. Back when going into a store, testing beauty products, and then paying for it was the only option for retail, it was much harder to pass off a fake product as authentic or to sell a low quality product as a miracle worker.
Now that most of us make our decisions based on what we’re seeing on the screens plus the very real threat of credit card fraud, we should be even more careful about online shopping despite its convenience.
Here a few tips to save yourself from a bad buy, scams, and counterfeit products:
First question: Where are you buying your product from?
If you are buying a popular or international brand that’s sold in stores and various shopping sites, don’t risk your personal information by buying from never before heard of sites just to save a few Pesos. Most well established brands will not sell their products through Instagram accounts or other online platforms that are not their own. There are only a handful of beauty commerce sites locally and it would be wiser to buy from these if you prefer to buy online. An easy way to cross check is to visit the sites of brands to find out where they are available.
Resellers? Look for customer feedback.
Many of us die hard beauty girls know that it’s just too complicated to buy products from brands that don’t distribute here without buying it during our own travels. If you can’t wait to buy that Charlotte Tilbury lipstick, verify Instagram resellers through their own account. Look for customer feedback posts by the reseller—if a popular local makeup artist buys from that store, that’s plus points! Look at the photos and posts to verify that the product is legit. Are they only posting photos grabbed from Google? Or do they also take their own photos, watermark it, then post online? The latter means there’s better chances that they actually have the product you want to buy. Looking at Instagram stories if it’s available, is another way you can verify that their stock is authentic and on hand.
If the product has counterfeits, look up online how to spot the difference.
Remember when Kylie Lip Kits were the hottest lipstick? And Kylie’s site was sold out but some stores suddenly seemed to have all the shades with lots of stocks? That should already tip you off about the authenticity of the product, especially if it’s been a while since the first batch was released. Just about enough time has passed for the counterfeit market to make their own to pass it off as the real deal. There are many blogs and vlogs online that compare real products to its fake counterparts, whether it’s Glossier Cloud Paint, M.A.C lipsticks, or various makeup brushes. Before buying a product that already has a counterfeit, try looking up online to find out what you’re looking for specifically in the product you’re eyeing to buy.
How much does it cost?
It’s 70% off retail price? Because there was a surplus? What a steal! Not. Beauty brands hardly will sell with that sort of markdown, unless it was a warehouse sale. And warehouse sales are never done online. As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true! In other words, it’s probably not legit! If the brand is distributed locally, the price should also drop sitewide or in stores and not just in one shop.
If it’s a product that hasn’t made its way here, do your research.
It’s easier to be familiar with beauty products that are already available here. But for those that aren’t distributed here, it’s best to pull out all your online sleuthing skills as if you were stalking your friend’s suitor’s exes. Get down and dirty—do all sorts of Google searches to find out if the product is any good. Blogger and vlogger reviews will help to show you how the product might perform on regular people, plus what it looks like when it’s not photographed for catalogues. Make sure you’re also looking at sites or online personalities you would believe. If you can message people who’ve reviewed it, why not try? Some online personalities reply, so pick the ones who might. That’s the beauty of the internet!
Apart from looking for positive reviews, also be on the lookout for rants. Or warnings. Bad experience and service also finds its way to the Internet as much as raves, so search for those too.
This is the only time it’s okay to read the comments section.
We would not advise it any other time, but online reviews can be helpful when deciding on an online purchase. Try to see what percentage of reviews say good things to bad things. And if a negative comment is consistently given by different reviewers, then that might be a major consideration. It’s true that there are glowing comments that are probably just part of PR, but you can spot these with the way the comment is written. Is it a generic praise that doesn’t get into why the product is amazeballs? Most genuine raves will go on and on about why something is life changing.
No to third party sellers—buy only from the brand even on shopping sites.
Don’t bother looking at the prices and shipping fees of third party sellers on Lazada or Shoppee. You can be assured you’re getting the real deal if you buy only from the brand’s official page for these sites.
Pick COD mode of payment.
If you are paranoid about using your credit or debit cards online, COD is the best way to go. If it doesn’t arrive, no loss for you.
Major moolah involved?
It might be best left to buying it in person. Perhaps the reason why e-commerce has boomed also for the beauty industry is because some of us are willing to put P500 on the line for a product that may or may not turn out to be good. But if the item you are buying is the price of a home appliance, it might be better to touch and test it in person first. If it’s just an eyeliner, then maybe the possible loss might not be too heavy. Decide on an amount that’s reasonable for you as the ceiling price of online purchases—until what amount won’t make you sweat if the buy doesn’t arrive or turns out to be bad? Make it a personal rule that anything past that amount should be bought in a physical store.