Introduction to shopping online


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Introduction to shopping online

A laptop with online shopping with a grocery store background

What's coming up

Some of us really enjoy shopping and others try to keep it as short and simple as possible. The internet has changed the way we shop and can save you a lot of time and money.

In this first activity, you will learn about the benefits of shopping online as well as some basic advice when shopping online.

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An image showing shopping online and buying tickets on your mobile device

At your convenience

Australia has millions of online shoppers, and the number is growing daily. More and more people are seeing the benefits of being able to browse for information, compare products and prices and find some real bargains. Plus, shopping on the internet also means you can shop anytime, day or night, whenever it suits you.

In just a few minutes, you can buy a dvd, do your weekly food shop or purchase some new clothes, and have it all delivered straight to your door.

The benefits of shopping online

What are two of the many benefits of shopping online?

You can shop at a time that is easy for you

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That's right!

Whenever you have time to get online, you can shop or compare prices.

Online shopping is convenient but it is always more expensive

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No, that's not quite right.

As you can compare prices and products, online shopping is often the cheaper option and many high street shops have their own websites to check as well.

You can access a wide range of shops from all around the world

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That's right!

You can also search for local shopping centres and the times they open for business if you prefer to shop in person.

Top tips for shopping safely online

Although shopping online is usually safe and simple, there are some basic common-sense rules you should follow.

An icon illustrating the internet as a revolving globe
Contact us page on a website

Know the retailer

If you're not familiar with the retailer, you should find out a bit about them before you start shopping. Find out their email address and phone number in case you have questions or problems.

When you buy something using a secure connection, the beginning of the retailer's internet address will change to https. In some web browsers, secure sites will also have a padlock symbol in the address bar. Other browsers have different ways of doing this, but they all use the https in the address bar.

Know what you're buying

Read the description of the product carefully – especially the small print.

Reading reviews of the product or ratings of the retailer lets you know if the retailer or product has a good track record.

Customer reviews page on a website
Payment page on a website with an option of credit card or PayPal

Pay by credit card or PayPal

Credit cards offer extra protection if you have a dispute with the retailer. Make sure you understand what you're being charged for and whether it's a single payment or a series of payments.

A lot of retailers now let you pay using PayPal. PayPal is a safe and easy way to pay online. It allows you to send and receive money without giving the seller your financial details.

Never email financial information or reveal your PIN (Personal Identification Number) to anyone.

Read the small print

Read the retailer's terms and conditions carefully. These will discuss things like delivery costs and their returns policy. The retailer's terms and conditions should also say who pays for returning goods. If they don't, they have to pay.

Terms and conditions page on a website including privacy policy and returns policy

eSafety Tip

Keep a record

You can use your email account to save details about what you've bought, so that you have a copy of the product description, price and correspondence sent between you and the retailer. This will help you keep track of when the product is due to arrive, as well as other details of your purchases.

Read your bank or card statement to check that the right amount has been charged. If you find a purchase on your statement that you didn't make, contact your bank or card company immediately.

A word of advice

If a friend of yours wants to go shopping online, what two pieces of advice would you give them?

File any emails about what you've bought for future reference

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Saving emails to keep a track of your correspondence with the seller and what you bought is a great way to make sure you have a record to refer to, if you need it.

Check terms and conditions carefully

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You should always check the small print to make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the website you are using.

Send your financial details in an email

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No, that's not correct.

You should never send your financial details in an email. If this has been requested, it may be a scam.


Well done, you've come to the end of the Introduction to shopping online activity.

You've learnt that:

  • You can shop online to buy products at a time and place that suits you.
  • Online shopping offers you a chance to compare products and prices so that you can get the best value for money.
  • Paying for products online is safe if you follow a few common-sense rules.

In the next activity, Getting started with shopping online, we will look at how to browse online to find the products you want.

Someone purchasing clothes online using a tablet and a credit card