Buying Chocolate Online

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Let’s Go Shopping

It’s Black Friday—the official beginning of the holiday season.  And for all of you chocolate shoppers, we thought it might be helpful to send along a few quick tips on what to look for when you are shopping for chocolate online.

General Online Tips

Okay, if you are reading this, you are probably a savvy online shopper.  But just in case, here are a few reminders in case you develop a case of chocolate withdrawal and lose your mind for a moment.  And there is nothing better than shopping from the comfort of your home, so here are our tips.

  • Keep it safe and secure–use secure websites with lock icons and site seals
  • Use a well protected computer–make sure you use a computer that has the most up-to-date internet security software.
  • Use a secure payment method–
  • Get to ‘know’ the merchant–a little research about the business you’re buying from goes a long way.
  • Look for reviews from other shoppers—Epinions.com or BizRate are a good start
  • Look for refund or return policy–if a policy is not posted, ask them if there’s a time limit to return an item and whether a full refund or merchandise credit is offered.

And Now for the Good Stuff

Tips to Buying Chocolate Online

There are hundreds of chocolate websites, and a large portion of them sell amazing chocolate.  So how do you decide?  If you have several go-to sellers or are looking for a new favorite, here are a few suggestions:

        1. Look for deals and promotions.  Right now, chocolatiers across the country are vying for your dollars.  And many will offer holiday specials or promotional offers.  Do your research.  But remember—as a rule, consider that if you pay too little, that most likely will be reflected in quality.
        2. Take a look at your site’s shipping policy.  A good site will take its shipping very seriously.  Do they offer upgraded shipping?  Are they conscious of the weather and temperature variations?  We promise, it’s worth the upgrade expense to make sure your chocolate arrives in excellent condition.
        3. Great retailers have great selections and good features.  Is the website attractive?  Does it provide lots of information?  How do the chocolates look?  Are they appetizing?  Does  the site tell you about the makers and their philosophy?  Do they share their ingredient lists with you?  Great chocolatiers take the time to explain their backgrounds and confection-making philosophy.
        4. Does your chocolatier use preservatives?  It is always a good idea to find out the shelf-life of the chocolate you are buying.  If they have a 3-4 week shelf life, ordering today for a holiday gift might be a bit too early.  You might want to wait a week or so to make sure your chocolates are the freshest they can be.
        5. It’s not a bad idea to send the business an email to see how they respond to customer inquiries.  If you don’t hear back from them, maybe you should consider another chocolatier.  If you call, do they answer the phone?  If you leave a message, how long does it take them to call you back?
        6. Many sites offer special promotions and/or coupons for repeat customers.  Does your favorite offer you incentives to come back and shop again?
        7. What about free shipping?  Many shopper surveys list reduced or free shipping as one of the most influential aspects of online shopping.

So the bottom line—enjoy the holiday season and support your favorite chocolatier!

 Photos courtesy of lgfcunewsworks.org & desktopwallpapersonline.info

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