Buy a chainsaw online and get it delivered the next day? Would you? Should you? I love shopping on the internet and have bought all sorts of things, including a couple of chainsaws.
In my view you can’t beat the convenience but that doesn’t mean to say that I would do all my shopping online and if I’m spending over $100 there are a few things I do to protect myself. A lot of my friends are the same. They lead hectic lives and some of them live far from large shopping areas, which has meant internet shopping is a bit of a life saver.
There are, however, some people who would never contemplate buying anything through their computers and I fully get that, too. For lots of us, though, trawling through different sites, searching for the best deals is great fun and very rewarding.
Reasons why people buy online
There are several reasons why you might wish to buy online:
- The product you want is not available locally. Many retailers, such as Walmart and The Home Depot stock a range of chainsaws but there are times when the specific model you are looking for is not in stock. If you’re in a hurry it’s far easier to order online than wait for it to come back into stock.
- Price. On the whole, you tend to get much better deals. Internet retailers are forever offering superb deals on different products and the savvy buyer can pick up some great bargains.
- Selection. The sheer number of products now offered for sale by internet retailers is staggering. There are literally hundreds of chainsaws available, providing the buyer with a far greater choice than ever before.
Reasons why people don’t buy online
On the flipside, there are a number of reasons why people are reluctant to buy online:
- They don’t trust the internet.
- They want the product there and then so are willing to drive down to the store and pick it up.
- They can’t see the physical product before they buy.
- They like to talk to sales people and get advice before they buy.
Let’s pick up a few of the points mentioned above.
I remember when internet shopping first started. It was a bit like the Wild West! There were lots of new retailers you’d never heard of so there were some big trust issues. There were plenty of uncertainties. Who were these companies? Should I give my card details to these people? (After all, I’d heard a few horror stories). Would the goods arrive on time if at all? Surely, this thing would never take off. It was far safer to pop down to your local power tool shop which had been trading for the last fifty years. After all, you knew these people and there’s nothing like being able to see the whites of somebody’s eyes before you hand over a few hundred dollars.
However, the internet retailers never lost faith. For all those reasons mentioned above, not to mention the costs savings of not having a large network of stores, they saw this as an exciting opportunity. The main obstacle they had to overcome was TRUST and they had to persuade more of us to hand over our cash online. In effect, they had to make it as safe and reliable as taking a handful of cash down to the local store and handing it over without a second thought.
How the internet retailers built trust
Today, many of the top internet retailers have the same excellent reputations as some of our local stores. People are quite happy to spend large sums of money with them. This didn’t just happen by chance and these companies employed a number of clever strategies to change our shopping habits. These included:
- Providing extremely detailed descriptions of the products on sale, including multiple photographs and videos showing the products in action.
- Product ratings. Consumer reviews and ratings were provided which helped to provide potential buyers with the reassurance (or otherwise) that the product they were about to purchase was of excellent quality.
- Linked to the above, products have ‘Question and Answer’ sections which cover many of those topics which a potential buyer would be interested in.
- Pricing strategies which involved deep discounting, often under cutting prices in the stores.
- Simple payment options. These included payment by credit card and then in time through platforms such as PayPal.
- Flexible returns policies.
If you think about some of these things, you can now get far more relevant information on the internet than you can at the local store. For example, you might be able to see a particular chainsaw, but you wouldn’t have access to any form of consumer ratings and you certainly wouldn’t be able to see how well it cut through a six-inch branch as seen in a video. You have no idea about the experience of people who have bought and used this product. Does the saw cut well? Is it noisy? Does it leak bar and chain oil? How easy is it to handle? Does it start easily? Does the chain fall off easily? How simple is it to keep the chain taught? All these questions, and more, are often answered in online reviews.
How to protect yourself when buying online
Despite its many advantages, buying online is not completely without risk and there are several things you can do to protect yourself. If you are going to buy through an internet retailer you should:
- Compare prices before buying. As a starting point you should compare prices on those sites which tend to offer the best deals. These include Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart.
- Make sure that the seller has a good reputation. You know you can trust organizations like Amazon and Home Depot but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy from a large retailer. Your local chainsaw shop might have an online offering and may offer the best deal.
- Read the product descriptions carefully and make sure that there is at least one photograph. If there is a video, watch it to see the product in action.
- Ensure that the product is actually in stock.
- Make sure you read and understand the ‘returns’ policy.
The final point is an important one. One of the biggest concerns about buying online is about returning a product. This can be for several reasons. Firstly, the product is in some way faulty. Secondly, the wrong item has been delivered. Thirdly, the buyer just changes their mind and no longer wants that particular product.
Most retailers have excellent returns policies, although you need to check the finer details. For example, some retailers won’t allow returns on gas powered equipment and in those instances, if the product is faulty, recourse to the manufacturer needs to be made. If you can return the product, you may need to repackage it and take it along to your nearest post office which is a bit of a nuisance. Some retailers will pick up the item from your home. In a number of cases I’ve heard of new products being delivered without the old one being collected! Others require you to contact service centers for instructions. Whatever an organization’s returns policy is you should be satisfied that you can live with it.
As mentioned earlier I have bought chainsaws online and have never had any issues. I put that down to thorough research and making sure I stay well away from dubious products. I enjoy the convenience of being able to get what I want online and not have to fight my way through traffic and crowds. Things have certainly come a long way in the last twenty years!