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Best Online Retailers Revealed

Best Online Retailers Revealed Credit: Dreamstime.com

Retailers looking to improve their online shopping experience should take a page from the B&H Photo and REI websites.

A new survey from Consumer Reports reveals B&H Photo, REI and Zappos were among the highest-rated websites for online shopping satisfaction. The sites were graded on a variety of key areas of the shopping experience, including quality, value, ease of navigation, ease of checkout, shipping and customer support.

Zappos.com earned top marks for checkout, shipping and customer support, while REI scored highly for the quality of their merchandise. B&H Photo was considered a standout for both the quality and value of its products.

The research found that high delivery charges and not discovering the total cost of shopping cart items until checkout were the most common problems shoppers had with online retailers. Sites earning some of the lowest scores included 1800Flowers, FTD and Ticketmaster.

With online shopping becoming as popular as ever, Consumer Reports offers consumers several tips when buying things via the Internet:

  • Use a separate email address:To keep spam from reaching a regular email account, use a different address for online purchases.
  • See products in person: Check out big-ticket items at a local retailer to see how they look and work. Buying online could be an option if the walk-in store won't match the best online price.
  • Look for "gotchas":  Read the site's terms and conditions, FAQs and privacy policy. Find out what information will be collected, how long it will be kept and what will be done with it. If a site shares data, see whether there's a way to limit it.
  • See what others say:  Some sites, such as Amazon, let customers rate retailers who sell through them. Do an online search with the name of the site and search terms such as "review" and "complaints."
  • Know warranty limits:  When shopping online, consumers don't generally get an "implied warranty of merchantability," meaning the right to receive a product that is free of defects and lasts a reasonable length of time.  Under state law, such a warranty automatically accompanies most new-product sales unless the retailer "disclaims" it, which is permitted in most states. Check the fine print because online retailers typically do disclaim these protections.
  • Use credit: Credit cards provide greater security than debit cards, allowing customers to obtain a chargeback if there's a problem.
  • Keep records:  Keep a copy of the online order page or take a screen shot of it in case an email receipt is never received.

The study was based on surveys of more than 28,000 Consumer Report subscribers.

Follow Chad Brooks on Twitter @cbrooks76 or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.