The Complete Internet Shopping Guide for Beginners – How To Shop Online Safely

by posted in All About Shopping

We are here to create a generation of informed internet shoppers and what better way to start our quest than familiarizing you with the online shopping jargon.

Online shopping can be extremely intimidated especially if you haven’t shopped before and it is therefore a good practice to educate yourself and become an informed shopper before taking the plunge. So here you go, the glossary of online shopping terms spelled out to you with relevant examples.

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shopping cart

1. Etailing

Etailing means “Electronic Retailing”, and is the practice of selling goods over the Internet. The sellers are called Etailers and can be large companies like Amazon and Flipkart or smaller local brands.

2. What is a Shopping cart?

A virtual cart where all the items that the customer has selected to buy from the online store are placed. Items here can be reviewed before check out.

3. Order value

The total value of your order in your local currency is considered to be your order value. Your order value would be the sum of each individual product that you add to your cart.

4. Payment Service Provider

An Ecommerce service which allows online stores to accept and process various payment methods such as credit cards, direct debit, bank transfers and real-time online banking.

5. Third-party payment processor

An external service that helps merchants accept and process online payments even without their own merchant accounts. An example of this is Paypal.

6. Types of Payments

Cash on delivery (COD)

Cash on delivery is a process of payment that involves payment at the time of delivery in the form of cash. It’s a good idea to opt for cash on delivery if ordering something big ticket or from a new website to avoid fraud. However, some websites charge extra for COD.

Netbanking, Credit & Debit Cards (COD)

Netbanking is the process of making a bank transaction with pre-authorized user id and passwords provided by your bank. Your bank might ask for additional verification details such as OTP (one time password sent to your mobile), CVV number, digits on the back of your card in order to authenticate and facilitate the transaction.

Credit and Debit Cards require users to manually enter in their card details, expiry dates, CVV numbers and might also ask for your ATM pin to carry out transactions.


E-wallet is a type of pre-paid account in which a user can store his/her money for any future online transactions. Protected with a password, an E-wallet can be used to make payments for groceries, online purchases, and flight tickets, among others.

These are also called digital wallets and the most widely used e-wallet currently in India include PayTM, Mobikwik, Amazon Pay, etc. Many international websites also offer you to option to pay via Paypal.

Many brands have their own e-wallets for use on their website/app. The advantage with ewallets is that these can be used directly to purchases without using card or cash. This is how the process works – You top up your ewallet with sufficient balance using your credit/debit card or netbanking.

Provided your purchase is within the balance present in your ewallet, you can directly use the balance to make your payment thus facilitating a faster checkout.

A second advantage is that brands are continually trying to popularize their ewallets with offers and schemes. For example, sites might offer special discounts/cashbacks to users making payment directly via ewallet or provide extra incentives for topping up money in your wallet.

eWallets can be used to make multiple payments include electricity, gas, DTH, train & flight booking among others. If you are looking for just one eWallet to have at present, go with PayTM.

However while using any of these payments methods, please verify that the URL you are inputting your information in begins with https://

This is very important because sites with https encrypt your information before sending it across to providers. This means that sensitive data such as your card number, CVV no, ATM pin, etc are not viewable by sites receiving the request.

However non secure sites ie http sites could be easily getting this information as the data might not be encrypted and there is a possibility that this data could be stolen and misused.

So always watch out for the “Secure shopping” sign before carrying out your transaction.

7. Checkout process

Checkout is the process that follows the selection of your products. It involves gathering payment information, address and order verification that is necessary to complete the purchase of items in the shopping cart. In the final step, the customer reviews and places the order.

Anonymous or Guest checkout

A checkout process where the user completes the transaction without creating an account on the seller’s website. Guest checkouts facilitates a faster checkout but if you plan future purchases, it is a good idea to create your account.

A registered account facilitates users to save their addresses, card information, etc so that the next time, you are shopping, you don’t need to manually enter in each of this information.


8. Order Fulfillment

In ecommerce, fulfilment is the process of completing an order. This involves the process of receiving, packaging and shipping orders for goods.

9. Shipping

The process of physically transferring a product from the seller’s warehouse to the customer’s delivery address. Depending on the type of eCommerce store, a website might offer free shipping for deliveries over a certain price range or offer different shipping rates depending on order type and region/country where the shipping needs to be made


10. Order confirmation

The concluding step of the checkout process, where a customer is informed that their order has been placed successfully. This message is published after the transaction is completed and while you are still on screen, and a copy is usually sent by email.

11. Packing slip

A printed document that is usually included in the package that is shipped with your order. This document includes a description of the contents and refrains from mentioning financial or account information for security.

12. Billing address

The physical address where the customer would like the bill to be addressed to.

13. Partial shipment

Where the merchant ships only some of the products in a single order. The full order is completed in multiple deliveries.

14. Privacy policy

The statement that explains what customer information an online retailer will collect and how the retailer might use that information.

15. Return policy

A statement that explains the company’s policy on when, how and under what conditions a customer can return the products purchased from the retailer.

16. Registration

The process where the customer creates an account with the online retailer on their website. The account holds personal information such as name, billing and shipping address, and payment details.

17. Transactional email

An automated email message that is sent in response to a specific event or transaction providing details of it.

18. Pre-order

A pre-order is an order placed for an item before it is released on that website. Usually pre-orders require complete payment and are for popular products where the seller would like to gauge the demand before shipping it from overseas. The shipping time for pre-order is usually much longer, but that is often compensated with an attractive price.

19. Brick and Click

Brick & Click is a business model in which a company or a brand operates both an online store and an offline store and integrates the two into a single retail strategy. Example: Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle, etc

20. Authorization

The process where your customer’s credit card issuer gives permission and allows the payment transaction to proceed.

21. Gateway (also known as Payment Gateway)

An Ecommerce service provider that communicates with the merchant’s Merchant Account Provider to authorize and process card payments online.


22. Affiliate

An affiliate is a business that acts as a reseller of products from another merchant. For example, if there’s a travel website that has plenty of tips and blogs on travel, but no actual travel packages to sell, they might become an affiliate of a travel company. Customers will find the products to purchase from the website, but the transactions, customer service and credit card handling all happens with the travel company.

coupon codes

23. Discount or Promotional Codes

A discount code is a coupon code that includes a series of numbers and/or letters that an online shopper may enter at checkout to get a discount or special offer. Example: For example, these coupon codes on GreatBuyz get you amazing discounts on shopping with Amazon.

24. Drop shipping

A fulfillment strategy wherein the retailer passes the shipping address to either the manufacturer, or a distributor that actually ships the purchased items directly to the customer.

25. Ecommerce

The buying and selling of products over electronic networks, including the Internet or mobile applications. The term may apply specifically to electronic transactions or more generally to the online retailing and online business. Example: Ebay is an E-commerce website

26. Reseller

A company or individual that purchases goods or services from a manufacturer or another vendor, and sells it ahead.

Are there any more online shopping jargons that confuse you? Write it in the comments below and we will do our best to answer them for you.

Also while shopping online, it is important to take precautions and shop only from websites that are reliable and safe. Check out our guide on how to know if a site is reliable and genuine.