Ordering online is quite commonplace nowadays — the change from store hopping (driving from one store to another) to web site hopping (cruising online from one web site to another) has been relatively swift. Thanks to this wonderful development, we lovers of all things tea have a plethora of choices at our fingertips. There are not only teas both common and scarce, but also teapots of all kinds, teacups, infusers, strainers, teapot warmers, and a host of tea time treats from puddings to cookies (what the Brits call “biscuits”) to curry sauces to jams and jellies. In fact, the hardest part about ordering online is ordering online!
Online stores use specialized software called “shopping carts” that can be downright tricky, since they are not always designed to be user friendly. You can get all of your stuff entered and find out that there is no way to back up and change something or that after doing all that hard work of entering, you now need to enter something that you don’t have available (at least, it always seems to happen to me). You can make the process easier, though, with these 5 steps:
1 Line up your list of items to buy before you begin the order process.
A bit of organization helps you get all the items you want and not forget something. Sites usually have a “Buy Now” button by the item, but you may not be sure that you want that tea or teapot yet; you could find yourself wandering off to another part of the site and wanting to come back to that item later and not being able to get back there. Sort of like wandering around a shopping mall (yes, they still exist) and not buying something when you see it but not being able to find it again later. Just as with a long road trip, you will want to have your journey planned a bit (but leave a bit of room for spur of the moment excursions).
2 Check the availability of each item on the site before ordering.
Good tea vendors will show this. It saves you having an item back-ordered. You can decide if it’s worth the wait. Most vendors will ship in-stock items ahead of the back-ordered item at no extra charge.
3 Read vendor descriptions carefully, including any restrictions or special conditions.
Some vendors offer bulk pricing and other special conditions you need to meet for ordering certain items. Usually, the site’s shopping feature will warn you when you are not meeting these requirements, but if you check ahead, you save yourself having to go back and find the right version of a product.
4 Have coupon and special offer information handy at the time you order.
This probably seems like a no-brainer, but as many times as I have gone to the grocery store with the coupons I had so meticulously clipped out and put in the special coupon holder I think that this bears stating here. Plus, when ordering online, the more info you can have already lined up, the better.
5 Double-check your order before hitting that final button.
I can’t stress this enough, especially with the item numbers some sites use. A digit’s difference can be the difference between getting that lovely jasmine tea you wanted and instead getting some chamomile that you detest. The temptation to hit the “Done” button will be great, but you must resist or pay the consequences.
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