One of the hardest parts about shopping online is not knowing whether a product actually matches its description. For all you know, that footwear might not fit, a shirt might be the wrong size, a piece of gadget might break down only after a few days. Even worse, the item might be a fake product. So, how do you tell an original from a fake product, especially online?
To start, let’s dive into 6 ways to distinguish a fake from an original product. Next, we’ll take a look at what to do after you’ve reviewed a brand and received your item.
1. Don’t Always Trust Reviews
Reviews are gold. They help build trust, and trust helps you make better shopping choices. By reading product reviews, you can easily compare similar products between brands and decide which is worth your money. But product reviews can be forged. A seller might ask people that they know to leave good reviews. Some might even require you to give a 5-star review before they send your package to you. So, while reviews can be a good thing, you shouldn’t always trust them.
Go the extra mile to research their sources. For instance, are the same set of people leaving reviews on different products? Your method for assessing reviews will depend on the shopping platform. On websites, look out for reviews that have similar wordings or user photos, and check how closely together the reviews were published. A seller might often publish fake reviews within a similar time frame. When shopping on social media platforms like Instagram, check hashtags associated with the brand to find direct reviews from shoppers.
2. Is It Too Cheap?
We all like it when items are both affordable and authentic. It’s a win-win for everyone; customers find good deals and sellers get repeat customers. Sometimes, though, cheap products are fake products. A vendor might sell imitations or knock-offs at a cheaper price to attract you, leading to unnecessary stress and additional costs on your end.
Before shopping online, take out time to compare prices between brands selling the same or similar products. Avoid deals that look too good to be true because, nine times out of ten, they are fakes and can ruin your shopping experience.
3. Check The Return Policy
Return policies are a set of guidelines that sellers use to manage returns and reduce your shopping risk. A good return policy explains what items can be returned and for what reasons, the time-frame for returns, the condition of the item upon return, and other relevant conditions that fit the seller’s business model. As a buyer, always read the return policy before making a purchase. While every reputable brand has one, brands providing fake products might have zero to elaborate return policies that can hurt you financially.
4. Is the Seller in a Hurry?
If the seller is constantly on your neck about paying for an item you’re interested in and didn’t pre-order on credit, it might be a sign that the seller wants to make you forget about double-checking before buying. Be cautious of rapidly decreasing stock numbers and sales banners that read: Hurry, limited stock!
5. Review the Seller’s Authenticity
Another red flag on a company’s site is the frequency of poor spelling and grammar. This can either appear on the about page, product description page, or on the product’s name itself. For instance, a brand that sells imitations might change Nasco Cornflakes to Nazco Cornflakes, to make you believe that it’s associated with the original brand. For brands that don’t have a website, you can review them by assessing their social media pages, quality of images, and in-store presence.
6. Buy from Trusted Brands and Sellers
The most trusted brands have a high degree of popularity, maintain good relationships with customers, and provide you with added value. They’re transparent, accessible, innovative, accountable, and authentic. When in doubt, shop from trusted brands.
After Receiving the Item
A brand might pass your online assessment and still deliver a substandard product. So, it helps to check the following when you receive your item;
- The expiration date on products.
- The smell of the product.
- The quality of the packaging.
- Grammatical & spelling mistakes on the packaging.
- The name and logo of the manufacturer on the product.
- The details in the product’s label, including its components.
Fake products can hurt you both financially and health-wise. When shopping online, always do your research. Look out for fake reviews and cheap products, read the seller’s return policy, review the brand’s authenticity, be cautious of vendors that seem in a hurry to close sales, and, remember, if something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Shop from trusted vendors when in doubt.