In most cases online shopping is very similar to shopping in traditional stores with the need to have an item shipped after making a purchase instead of being able to walk out of the store with the item in your hand. However, there are times when online shopping is much different than shopping in a regular store. This difference occurs in cases in which the online shopping is being done on auction websites. Although using auction websites can be very similar to online shopping in some ways there are some differences which online shoppers should be aware of before making purchases through auction websites. Some of these differences will be discussed in this article and include the need to do research on appropriate prices before making a bid, understanding the bidding process and knowing the return policies. Doing Research before Making a Bid The need to do at least a minimal amount of research before making a bid when using auction websites for online shopping is quite common. Although online shoppers who utilize retailers to make a purchase should still do some research before making a purchase to ensure they are selecting the best deal on the item they truly want, the type of research when using auction websites is different. Online shoppers using auction websites should carefully research items such as the feedback for the seller and comparable items which have recently been sold on the auction website. Carefully investigating the sellers feedback is very important because it can help to prevent the buyer from purchasing poor quality items or items which differ from the description provided in the auction. Most online auction websites allow buyers and sellers to provide feedback for other users from whom they have purchased an item or to whom they have sold an item. Before bidding on an item at an auction website, the buyer should review this feedback to determine whether or not the seller is reputable. In general a reputable seller is one who has a substantial amount of feedback and the majority of the feedback is positive. Buyers should be wary of sellers with no feedback, very little feedback or a great deal of negative feedback. Online shoppers using auction websites should also spend some time researching recently sold items comparable to the one they wish to bid on before making a bid. This is important because it will give the buyer a good indication of a fair price for the item. This will help the buyer determine how much they are willing to spend on a particular item. It will also give them an indication of how many of these items are in circulation. This information may be useful because if there are many items available the buyer may tend to bid lower simply because they will likely have several opportunities to bid on a similar item while if the item is pretty rare the buyer may opt to bid higher because it may be his last opportunity purchase a particular item. Understanding the Bidding Process Online shoppers who use auction websites should acquaint themselves with the bidding process before starting to bid on items. This is important because it can help the buyer to avoid making mistakes in the bidding process which could result in them overpaying for an item or not winning an item because of a mistake in the bidding process. It is also important to understand the bidding process because it can help the buyer to develop a bidding strategy which can help them to win items they desire. The bidding process may be different for different auction websites so online shoppers should review this information for each new auction website they use. Returns When Online Shopping with Auction Websites The issue of returns when online shopping with auction websites is a very valid concern for online shoppers. Online shoppers who are concerned about whether or not it will be possible to return an item purchased through an auction website should carefully review the bid description for any information relevant to the seller’s return policy. If no information about returns is provided the buyer should inquire with the seller. The buyer should also review the website’s policy on returns to determine if the website will provide any protection if the items purchased are defective or do not match the description provided by the seller.