Tips & Tricks

Online Shopping in Malta – Part 1

What are the obstacles and how can we overcome them?

7 min read

Whether one likes it or not, Online Shopping is here to stay. Yes, we’re currently going through this wretched Covid-19 pandemic (read more here) but even if that were not the case, online Shopping is the future. 

Welcome to the future!

Of course, with every step in the evolution of our lives, there is an adaptation period; in this case, a time during which people need to catch up with the changes in technology and how things are done.  

For this reason, I am listing some of the challenges one might come across when shopping online in Malta and try to explain how you may try to overcome these difficulties to be in a better position to enjoy Online Shopping!

  1. You’re not sure who is selling what you need 
  2. You’re not sure about the cost of delivery
  3. You’re afraid to buy online because you’re not sure you’ll be home when the delivery arrives
  4. Online shops ask you to sign up with too many details 
  5. All these passwords and accounts make you crazy, you can’t keep up 
  6. You can’t always tell if what you’re ordering is exactly what you want to buy 
  7. You’re afraid that if you receive the wrong things, you won’t know what to do 
  8. You don’t have a credit card or you’re afraid to use your credit card online

We’ll delve into the first 4 points in this post and then discuss the last 4 points in Part 2 of this blog post.

You’re not sure who is selling what you need

I might have started off with a self-serving point here, but it couldn’t be truer! Think about it, at the time of writing, there are 530 local online shops listed on Malta Virtual Mall. How are each of us as individuals expected to know who is selling what we need? We might remember some of the bigger online shops, but in truth, there’s loads more to choose from! 

MVM’s search function solves this problem for you. If you need anything, just type the correct search term into the search bar and if it’s being sold online in Malta, then you will find it!

For example, try https://maltavirtualmall.com/?s=dji+drone

You’re not sure about the cost of delivery 

I agree that this can sometimes be annoying. It truly is annoying to spend the time to do your shopping, selecting your items, creating an account, putting in your delivery details and only then to realise that you are about to be charged a delivery fee that completely decimates the value of your shopping experience. 

We’ve done our best to help out here too. In each category page, we have tried to list the delivery policy of each shop. Unfortunately, some are still unavailable because, for some baffling reason, the shop has made it quite hard to find out what their delivery policy is without getting to the final stage of the purchasing process.  

If you want to find a shop on MVM, you can either go directly to the category where you think you will find it, or you can simply search for it and the results will show you which categories the shop features in. You can then click a category to find the shop inside that page.

MVM Search Results - Debenhams

You’re afraid to buy online because you’re not sure you’ll be home when the delivery arrives 

The key here is two-fold. Firstly, you need to inform yourself by making use of the information available to you and secondly, you need to communicate effectively:

  • While many shops follow the logical rules of thumb when it comes to delivering goods, others might have some more specific conditions. Most online shops have a page specifically dedicated to delivery information. This is normally linked in the footer of the website or in the FAQ’s. If you want to put your mind at rest about when and how your goods will be delivered; make use of this information. This page isn’t normally too bulky and should be approximately a 3 min read – sometimes less. 
  • Some online shops are now adding the facility to select a time slot for delivery. While this is very helpful, it is usually only used by supermarkets who are doing deliveries all day long.  
  • If you didn’t find the information you needed in the delivery information, feel free to communicate with the shop. Either by contacting them before you place your order, or by leaving them a message in the text box which is normally provided in the form before finalising your online transaction. You could ask them to call you 30 mins before delivery or you could ask them to not come between 9am and 10am, or any other conditions. If the shop cannot meet your conditions, it will then be their responsibility to let you know that they cannot fulfil your order. 
  • Are you at the office all day? You could set your shipping address as your office address. That way, the shop will deliver your order to your office and then you will take it home from there. Although… this might be more helpful if you’re buying 1 or 2 small items rather than your grocery shopping 😀 
  • Rest assured that if you pay for your shopping online with an agreement for delivery, then the online shop you are buying from has a duty to deliver. There needs to be a level of mature understanding here. If you are out of your home for most of the day, then it is unreasonable to expect deliveries to be made in very tight timeslots. If this is the case, I suggest you make other arrangements. But if you slipped out of the house to buy something quickly and through bad luck, it turns out that that was the time that the shop tried to deliver – rest assured that you will not be losing your money. The shop will either try to deliver at another time or contact you to discuss further. 
AtoZ Delivery T&Cs

Online shops ask you to sign up with too many details

This is also a two-part issue. This could be annoying because it takes time but it could also be a privacy concern.

Time

Ultimately you need to decide if it’s worth it for you. Personally, I think this boils down to perception. Everything has its pros and cons and online shopping is no different. If you actually went to the shop, you might have come across traffic or had problems looking for parking – both very realistic conditions in Malta and both take up a lot of time. When you look at it that way, a maximum of 2 mins to fill a form isn’t that bad 😊 

Also, an online shop would normally ask you for additional details only when creating an account with them. If you use the same shop more than once, this could actually save you time in the long run.

Privacy

You might think that all that is needed to shop online is a name and address plus payment details; and you would be right in thinking so. However, businesses have learned that collecting information about their clients is very important. Of course, there is a minority who might choose to abuse that trust, but for the most part, there is nothing nefarious in the motives of online shop owners. Collecting information simply allows them to create more effective marketing strategies to attract you better. All that being said, you should always be careful who you trust your information with. 

Thankfully, there are laws in place that govern what companies are allowed to do with your information which should give you peace of mind when filling in these forms. You may have heard about General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. You also have certain rights, such as being able to ask for all information which a company holds on you and ask them to remove it. Under EU regulations, they would be required to comply. 

Time & Privacy

If you trust the browser you are using, you probably have what is called an ‘Autofill’ feature. Many of the top browsers have this Autofill function where you save your information once and then when your browser detects a form that requires personal details, it will ask you if you would like to automatically fill the form using the information you have stored.  

By using this feature, you could save a little bit of time but a lot of frustration when filling in forms – not only when shopping online, but also when paying bills or filling any kind of form online.

Here’s some links to the documentation provided by the top 5 browsers:

Bonus

Many online shops also offer a guest checkout, meaning that you will only need to enter the essential details to conclude your transaction. This might be faster and possibly slightly safer, but you forfeit the use of some of the additional features a shop might provide when you create an account.

To read more and delve deeper into the remaining 4 points, take a look at Part 2 of this blog post here.