Online shopping? Tips to avoid the drama

The rush of early morning crowds for Black Friday sales is not for everyone, but online shoppers can run into snags too with late orders or inflated prices.

Boston 25 News sat down with Babson College marketing division chair Lauren Beitelspacher for tips to cut down on the online shopping drama.

TIP 1:   BEWARE OF “CHOICE” PRODUCTS

Beitelspacher says look out for Amazon's “Choice" products. “It's not really that it's better than something else. It's that the company paid to move up in the company search,” she told Boston 25 News.

TIP 2: NOT ALL “PRIME” PRODUCTS ARE EQUAL

Beitelspacher says, just because a product is sorted under the Prime category, does not mean you will still get it quickly. “If it's prime, sometimes it's same day, sometimes its next day sometimes it's 2-day.  But often that’s no guarantee because often times, this stuff is coming from around the world.”

To avoid the disappointing delay, she says you should make sure you know who the seller is.

TIP 3: LOOK OUT FOR 3RD PARTY SELLERS

“There are a lot of 3rd party sellers that just go to stores, buy stuff and resell it,” Beitelspacher said.  “They're going to mark that up pretty significantly.”

Beitelspacher says make sure you carefully read the entire product page to see where the product is coming from, since that can affect shipping time, price and quality.

TIP 4: CUT DOWN ON BOXES

If you want to cut down on the boxes you receive, size matters. Order big items together and small items together, and you'll have a better chance of fewer boxes on your doorstep.

“There's a distribution center in Connecticut that handles smaller items and more sortable items and then there's a distribution center in Massachusetts that handles items over 16 inches,” Beitelspacher said. “We expect if we put it all in the shopping cart, that it it’ll all come in the same pkg in the same box at the same time.  That’s not the case.”

TIP 5: REVIEWS CAN BE DECEIVING

Buyer beware when it comes to 5-star reviews. Last year, Boston 25 News showed you how some companies pay for good reviews.  One analysis found up to 40 percent of customer feedback was unreliable.  You can use sites like Fakespot to help weed out the bad ones.

And don’t forget to compare prices. Convenience can often come at a higher price and many stores will now match big online retailers to stay competitive.