Ultimate Guide: Trustworthy online shops

The Ultimate Guide: Shopping for bicycles and gear online is a multipart report with tips, trends and analysis of the Australian Market. You can download the ebook version here. This part looks at finding an online shop that you can trust.

Trustworthy online shops

For internet users with less experience, it is hard to judge whether an online shop is trustworthy. There are a few things to look out for so that you can quickly narrow down the choice. After a minute or two on a website you should have enough feedback to judge whether the shop only has a small range, is out of date, is hard to navigate through and offers easy access to important information such as product availability, payment options, payment security, shipping costs and times and currency.

While all LBS’s should have at least a simple website, online shopping is an entirely different retail channel to the traditional bricks and mortar business and usually involves a serious investment in setting up and maintaining the online shop as well as establishing new business processes to manage the online shop. A smaller or less experienced LBS with an online shop may still be trustworthy and offer good customer service though an established and successful online shop will have the advantage of experience and as such will usually better cater to the customers needs in the design, structure, information content as well as the order process.

A good online shop should provide:
– Sufficient product information and photos
– Product availability details
– Shipping details and costs
– Payment options and currency information (for overseas shops)
– Shop contact details including the email address, ‘physical address’ and telephone number
– Indication that you can pay securely online

When undecided, the Google search engine is a useful tool to quickly judge the reputation and trustworthiness of a particular shop. Simply perform a Google search for the shop name, or you can even add a few key words to see what kind of results appear for example “Shop XYZ” +good + helpful or “Shop XYZ” “poor service”

The aim is to locate forum discussions and blogs in which the shop in question has been discussed. When there are very few results, then the shop is probably smaller, new or relatively unknown. When there are lots of results however, you can be more certain that a shop is more established.

When reading both positive and negative feedback, be wary in taking each comment at face value. To put it into perspective, compare it to Australia’s large supermarket chains as there are usually happy customers as well as unhappy customers. Customers are quick to condemn and slow to praise. The aim is to look for trends in complaints or praise and judge from the amount of discussion and the time frame (current or old) as to whether an online shop is potentially risky. Even the biggest and best retailers in the world will face the odd angry customer who is on a mission to share their story to anyone who will listen. In the same vein, the worst shop can spread misleading information online that shows them in a different light.

The good news is that from all survey participants who have purchased cycling gear online, only 31% have ever experienced a problem and of these problems, three quarters were solved to the customer’s satisfaction.


This is article is from The Ultimate Guide: Shopping for bicycles and gear online. You can download the entire ebook (free) from here.

You can discuss this article and the ebook in the Australian Cycling Forums.

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About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

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