Online shopping is now something most of us are accustomed to and I’m sure every single one of you reading this has, at one point or another, bought something online. But a relatively recent phenomenon I’ve noticed, is the selling of products via Facebook or increasingly, Instagram. I don’t know if it’s just a local phenomenon or if it’s something that’s also happening elsewhere in the world so it’ll be interesting to hear your views.
I realise these 2 platforms have a low cost entry (free) with no need to own a domain or host a website or have an estore template. A lot of the time, from what I observe, you email, leave a comment, or more popularly, send a private message or text by Whatsapp to the seller to purchase the items you are interested in.
I do notice that a lot of luxury product resellers use this medium of sale, as do sellers of imported cosmetics or people who run “sprees” for hard to get products or cosmetics. I’d watched and observed this for a while and while I note that some very popular Facebook pages or Instagram accounts seem to do a roaring trade, which does boost their credibility, I’d always been hesitant because I’m a bit of a traditionalist.
I prefer shopping from a proper online store and I stick to the big ones unless I’m looking for a very niche item. I basically want someone I can hold accountable if something goes wrong. But I recently dipped my toes into this grey world of Facebook/Instagram shopping and I have to say that it has left me feeling wanting.
I’m curious if any of you do buy things or shop on Facebook pages or through Instagram accounts, or if you are a seller, if you find it to be an effective or successful medium 🙂
I have had one successful trade, if you could call it that, through Instagram. I had purchased an acrylic organizer through @MyMakeupOrganizer about a year ago (or perhaps longer) after following the account for a while, figuring out what I wanted and then emailing her. Some of her organizers are available at Parkson Pavilion KL which lends to credibility, she made it a point to reply to Instagram questions and comments, and I knew of people who had bought from her and who had met her, and I knew a little about her history so to cut a long story short, I trusted her. Her replies to my emails were prompt, payment instructions were clear and I picked up the product the very next day. I was happy and it was a good experience.
I never really felt the need to make another Instagram purchase from anyone else until recently. I spotted an item that I’d had my eye on for a while and it was an attractive price, and I was keen. I shot off a text message on Whatsapp to make an enquiry, and I received a reply not long after. So far so good.
However, when I decided that I was interested to make a purchase, all communication suddenly went flat from the other end. I made a couple of queries to which I received no response for a few days, and then I decided that that was that. Pictures were still going up on Instagram and my messages were going through on Whatsapp, and if you use Whatsapp, you’d know that people can see when you were last on and I could see that the seller was active. But there was no reply.
I’ve since scrapped that intended purchase, chalked it up to experience and vowed to never fall into that trap again. It was probably for the best that the radio silence came before I had made payment or I’d be kicking myself in the head for being so silly.
The next time I’m swayed enough by price or availability or interest to make a purchase through Facebook or Instagram, here’s what I’ll look out for:-
- Does the seller answer all questions – Often, I see questions whether on Facebook or Instagram that go unanswered and that is a warning sign that perhaps the seller isn’t quite on the ball. I’d proceed with caution.
- Are the photographs authentic or stock photos – To be honest, even if it was a photograph of an item, it’s hard to tell these days, what with high grade fakes of everything proliferating the market. In fact, it may even be a stolen picture from a website or someone else’s account (I often see images from Karen at Makeupandbeautyblog.com and Christine of Temptalia.com being used to advertise cosmetics for sale with no credit) But if you’re paying top dollar and seeing just a stock photo, skip it.
- Do you know someone who has bought from the seller before – It’s not the best gauge, but it helps if someone you know well has bought something from the seller you plan to purchase from. It gives you something to go on, but it isn’t a 100% measure of efficiency so just use it as a yardstick.
- Is the seller answering your emails or text messages promptly – If you aren’t getting your questions answered promptly (I deem 24-48 hours to be reasonable for people in retail) look elsewhere. I understand that some of these sellers aren’t doing it full time, but if you want to hold yourself out to be in retail, even if just online, my expectations are of that of a retail store. If you face problems before making payment, you could also face problems after payment in receiving your goods.
So that’s my experiences. One good, one bad. For now, I’m still sticking to trusted websites and online stores where availability of goods are clear, payment terms are spelled out, delivery methods specified and while they may cost more, I feel safer and more secure putting my money there.
Have you bought anything through Facebook or Instagram or are you a seller? Do you have any tips or stories (good or bad) to share?
If you have any tips on pitfalls to watch out for, I’d appreciate it! I find it quite a pain navigating a Facebook page or Instagram account to look for product availability because there’s no way to see what’s available at any one time. You have to scroll through the feed and that’s exhausting (and a waste of time!) But then, that’s me – I’m a traditionalist, remember? 😉