E-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon work on a marketplace model. This means that they act as a common place for sellers and buyers to interact, which means you cannot buy something on the website based on the company's established brand value.
A recent survey conducted by LocalCircles revealed that 38 percent of the 6,923 questioned have been sold unoriginal products through leading e-commerce websites of Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal.
Products like perfumes, shoes and fashion apparel were among top fake products received list.
Here are some tips to be a smart shopper:
The most common rule that is usually followed by most is checking the review of the said product but you also need to check the review on the vendor. As a policy, these e-commerce websites send a review request to their buyers, asking them to rate their experience.
You can judge the product and the retailer through those reviews. Similarly, you can rate your experience to help the e-commerce company understand your grievance. If there are many negative reviews on a single vendor, the company is bound to take action on them.
In Flipkart's case, you can trust the vendor named "WS Retail" as it is the company's own wholesale front and not a third party.
There is also a misconception that if there is "Fulfilled by Amazon" or Flipkart Assured" writing next to the product on the display page, then the product is genuine. It is just the website's guarantee on their logistics side, which means the third party vendor uses the e-commerce company transport and package facilities and has nothing to do with the genuineness of the product.
Compare with original
When you looking for a product of an established brand, you can compare the model number, specifications and features on the brand's official website. If the product is out of season, a heavy discount on it is justifiable.
If you have already purchased the product, you can check for finer details like the accuracy of the logo placement. In case of mobile phones, check the IMEI number on the box and see if it matches with the product. If you have any doubts, return the product for a complete refund (only applicable if the product is not damaged by you).
Check return policy
Usually, some products like electronic accessories have a very small return bracket like 10 to 15 days. Note that those 15 days are calculated from the day you make the purchase and not from the day it is delivered to you.
Chances are that the product reaches you after 5 days, you use the product for 10 days and on the 15th day, it stops functioning. In this case, the e-commerce website will not be liable even if the product holds a 1-year replacement warranty. You may then have to contact the brand for a replacement based on the warranty. The brand too will not be able to help you if they detect that it is a fake product.
Don't fall for big discounts
It is highly possible that a brand new model just released by the brand available at a heavy discount is an imitation of the original. Sports shoes, for example, are a major category were fake products are sold by vendors at half rates that look very much like the original. As mentioned before, if the model is out of date, the discount is justifiable as the seller is trying to clear his stock. Therefore you will need to do your own research before you fall for an irresistible deal.