Online Shopping Explained

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The World of Online Shopping Explained Through Behind the Scenes Information

Are you new to the world of online shopping? This article will prove useful as you navigate the intricacies of shopping on the Internet.

The Size and Weight of Products

Shopping for bulkier items (like furniture) online is different from shopping for smaller items (like clothing) online. Moving bigger, heavier objects across oceans and over land to your home or office requires a different set of people and equipment - and more time - than shipping smaller objects. One main difference is that bigger + heavier items are moved around on palettes with palette jacks, making them more complicated to ship, and making the actual delivery process more difficult. If you order a large, heavy item online, you will need to be prepared to move that item from the curb, where it will be dropped off, to the place that you want to assemble and leave the item. Also, be prepared to receive larger products ordered online on a palette. You may require assistance from a friend, neighbor or relative moving your order from the curb to its final destination. In some cases, people hire third party services to help with this.

The Price of Quality and Selection is Complexity

Most Internet retailers source their merchandise from multiple manufacturers and vendors. This allows for the best possible selection and quality. However, it does makes things more complicated for shipping. Working with many different warehouses and factories means working with a lot of different people on a lot of different logistical issues, adding complexity, and therefore opportunity for error. In turn, internet retailers build this into their estimated shipping times. Use estimated shipping dates and estimated transit times as your best tools for forming accurate expectations.

Understanding Estimated Shipping Dates

When considering estimated shipping dates, it is best to be looking at a calendar when trying to determine when you will receive your purchase. Usually, estimated shipping dates and transit times are given in business days, so do not count Saturdays and Sundays. Be sure to look carefully at how an estimated shipping date is calculated, and use your calendar for accuracy.

Make sure to factor in estimated transit times. This is the time between when an item ships and when it arrives at your door. Estimated shipping dates tell when the item will begin its transit to you, not when it will arrive to you. If an internet retailer gives you a range of dates, mark each on your calendar, and expect your purchase to arrive some time between these two dates (assuming you have factored in both estimated shipping and estimated transit times).

Freight Shipping Service Expectations

Most internet purchases are shipped direct from the warehouse to you. If it is a large and heavy object you have purchased, it will need to be sent via a freight service instead of a package delivery service. This means that instead of someone showing up to drop off a package at your front door, someone will show up to leave you a palette of merchandise at your curb. Their services do not include moving cargo from your curb to your door. Once they have placed your item at your curb, their job has been completed, and it will be up to you to arrange for moving it to your desired location. Freight service employees are members of unions that do not allow them to volunteer extra service beyond that capacity, so do not expect it.


Direct shipping cuts the retailer out of the shipping process by delivering goods straight from the manufacturer to you. While this speeds things up considerably, it means that the retailer is not able to quality check the prepared shipment. You (the customer) are the person that is responsible for checking to make sure that the product has arrived complete and without damage.

If you receive a package that appears from the outside to have been damaged during shipment (the box has been severely damaged), it is best to “refuse” the shipment. This way, the retailer can help you file a claim on the merchandise in order to get a replacement. While most retailers will help you through the claims process, should it become necessary, it will still involve you taking pictures of the damaged merchandise and sending them other detailed information in order to file your claim.

Should the box appear undamaged, but the merchandise turns out to have hidden damage, the retailer can still help you complete the claim filing process in order to get the merchandise replaced as quickly as possible. Different manufacturers and freight companies process claims at different speeds. It is difficult for the retailer to estimate how long a claim will take to be processed because there is only so much control they have over the process. It involves working with other companies, some better and more efficient than others at processing claims.

Your items need to be checked for damage as soon as you receive them. Claims not filed within the first 48 hours of receiving the shipment are almost never approved. It is important to do your own personal damage spot check as soon as you receive your order to make sure you will be able to receive a prompt and full replacement for the damaged pieces. This goes for other issues that may come up concerning quality or missing parts. Do a complete inspection of your order for quality and completeness as soon as you receive it in order to protect yourself.

There is no Such Thing as Free Shipping

Although many retailers offer free shipping as an incentive, delivering bulky items to their destination is still extremely expensive. There is simply no cheap way to move heavy objects safely across the globe at high speed. When a retailer says they offer “free shipping,” they mean they offer it free for you, not that they are somehow able to ship things for free. In other words, it’s free for you but not for them. Also, keep in mind that the price of shipping an item is derived from its size and weight, not from its value in dollars. While absorbing $5 for shipping an order of t-shirts or jewelry is easy to build into a pricing model, absorbing $300 for shipping a credenza or queen size bed leaves no room for error. Therefore, although they may offer free shipping, should you decide to return a bulky, heavy order for any reason, internet retailers will usually require that you cover the cost of shipment. Companies simply cannot afford to ship you large objects for free without recuperating some of the cost through profits on the sale. Once the sale aspect has been removed, the “free shipping” aspect goes with it. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and in reality, there is no such thing as free shipping – only shipping offered as a gift from the retailer to you in appreciation for choosing them over their competitors.

Consider Assembly

Larger items are almost always shipped with some level of assembly required so that they can be packed more efficiently. Depending on what product you order, a certain amount of effort (and sometimes tools and help) may be required to assemble your order. Before buying anything online, make sure you understand what it will take to assemble the product. Should you need to, contact the retailer with questions to make sure you have the proper expectations about assembling your merchandise. Never buy anything online without checking to see what it will take to assemble it.

Enjoy the Convenience and Ease of Online Shopping

If you arm yourself with these facts and follow these instructions, you will have a much better experience shopping online. Most of the time, things go quickly and smoothly, and your order comes to your curb or door in the time allotted without damage. However, shipments are usually moving from one side of the globe to the other, and it should hardly be surprising if something goes awry from time to time. Using the above information will allow you to address the situation with the greatest efficacy possible in the unfortunate event that a problem does occur, while keeping more accurate expectations about what happens when things go smoothly.

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