Ordering Your Hair Care Products Online

Shopping Online seems not as popular as one would expect in South Africa, but, it is indeed growing. Chatting with various vendor/suppliers/brands recently highlighted to me that it is not as popular as I had imagined...they all have a web presence with online shopping capabilities but the majority of their customers will visit their websites to see the products (and /or read reviews) and then call them or email them to make a purchase. The majority of their customers also prefer to make a cash on delivery payment.

I have utilized online shopping for a number of years. From making purchases on Amazon and Ebay to doing my grocery shopping and having it delivered to my home. I sometimes prefer shopping online than standing in long queues in stores etc. And sometimes I do want to try something on before buying it to make sure it is a perfect fit. There are pros and cons to it, one just needs to find what works for them or rather know when it is best to buy online vs in store etc.

When it comes to hair care products buying online seems to me to be perfectly fine. I would say a few things to note would be as follows:

Placing your order online vs sending an email or a telephone order - the steps in the online process covers everything that is required by the supplier/brand for quick and efficient delivery of exactly what you want. You have control and are able to be specific for example you enter the number of items you want, you also easily choose what you want. You get a chance to review your order and make any necessary changes. You enter your address and payment details (depending on the payment method and delivery option you have chosen). If you email - (which I sometimes do especially if a new brand is still establishing its website etc) again you have the chance to be specific BUT sometimes you don't answer all the questions/requirements the supplier needs to complete your order so there may be some back and forth with emails adding a delay in your order. There is also a chance your email does not reach the supplier which does sometimes happen.With the telephone option, you are not totally in control in that you are relying on someone else to take down your order and your details correctly. You have to spell out and be clear and specific with your address etc. You can still use this but I'm just saying your order may be not be exact or details exact and this can further delay your delivery.

The website - if unsure if a website is legitimate or not, ask. For example, you can ask other naturals on the 'South African Naturals' page on Facebook or even ring the vendor to make sure that they have a website and that you are able to purchase via their website. I also google the name of the website/company and add ' reviews' at the end. I look at the presence of the store/company/brand on other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - more legitimate sites/brands tend to have a presence everywhere - its just how things are these days and consumer preference.  If you are worried about personal details then....

Safeguard your online payments - various banks including the Visa and Mastercard facilities at large have additional free features/measures that you can use and activate for all online or all card payments. I use FNB's additional facility that notifies me as well as sends me a pin for all online payments (I think the pin is the VISA card facility and is sent to me before the purchase is complete so that I confirm it is indeed me making the purchase), and it sends this to my phone. So I will know straight away if I get a message and yet I am not buying online. You can also pay via EFT to the supplier and then send them proof of payment once done. They can then dispatch your products once you have done this. If you still would rather pay cash on delivery, then ring them and ask before hand if you can do this unless they do state that they allow it on their site or give it as one of their payment options. Bear in mind that they are more likely to be using a courier to deliver your products who will not be able to take cash payments in most cases. All I'm saying is that you have options and that you can be savvy and activate the facilities that offer extra protection for your online payments.

The courier - having goods couriered straight to your door is super efficient and brings an extra moment of happiness in your day. Make sure your delivery details are correct. Add in the notes anything that the courier must be made aware of such as you are using your work address, or that the address is for a tall block of flats and security will ring you to collect when they arrive etc, etc. The more clear and correct you are, the better they are at finding you and so there are no delays in receiving your purchase. Also, place an order with a friend (or more) so you can share delivery charges. 

The postal option - I avoid choosing this especially nowadays when I can't be certain my purchase will be delivered to me (sorry SA Postal Service, you need to regain my trust). If you have no other option but to choose this then ask that it be the post office to post office or it must be registered mail so you have a way of tracking your parcel and have a little more assurance that you will receive your order.

The Meet and Collect/Pickup option - Also another way to save on any additional costs. If collection/meet and collect is available in either my work and home area then I do go this route. It does mean more time spent in getting to the meet up point but also sometimes means I can meet the people behind the brand and ask all my questions in one go if they do have time to answer me. Not all brands have the time or ability to be meeting each and every one of their customers although I'm sure they would love to. Soft launches and products new on the market or still establishing their courier relationship tend to have this option. 

Check your emails - once you have made your purchase, you are more likely to receive a receipt or invoice as well as confirmation of your order and delivery and sometimes a way to track your order.

Expectations - sometimes I have made a purchase only for it to arrive looking smaller than I had thought. Know what a 250ml sized items should more or less look like vs a 30ml/g one. (I would say colours look different in pictures/online than in reality but this would mainly apply to items like clothing or make up).

So there you have it, no reason to fear and if you are not sure, just ask. If you suspect fraudulent activity on your bank card, speak to your bank immediately. Many of these hair care suppliers are not out to get you but are out to get their products to you in the quickest more affordable way. 
I have compiled a list of local brands and suppliers as well as locally based importers of hair care brands which I am in the process of updating. (current list can be found HERE). Keep watching, if there is something you are not certain of then ask and as always, listen to your hair.