As with any business you choose to do business with, you should do a bit of homework before forking over your hard earned money:
- Is the company you are dealing with a true brick and mortar business?
Nothing beats seeing a part in your own hands before purchasing. While we admire those just starting out their own businesses, you should research a bit on the company history and their reputation before making a purchase. Most home-based businesses will be email only (most obvious are those website lacking a phone number and/or physical address).
- Do they stock the part you wish to purchase?
Drop-shipping should only be used when time is a constraint or in extreme cases, not as a primary means of doing business. Rather than simply listing everything on a site, those dealers should choose specific manufacturers to work with. A stocking inventory shows absolute loyalty to the brands they carry.
- Customer Service
The best overall value consists of 3 things: Quality, Price and Service.
- Is the company you are purchasing from an authorized vendor of the particular part you are shopping for?
Most manufacturers will only deal with true brick and mortar businesses, in very rare cases - home businesses. Reputable brands will have a directory of authorized vendors that stock and have extensive knowledge about the products they offer, while ensuring full factory warranty on your purchase.
Manufacturers will most times not warranty or support items that are purchased through an unauthorized vendor or grey market (including eBay).
- Handling Personal Information
With the growing threat of identity theft, make sure the business you are dealing with has taken certain precautions to make sure your private info is safe and secure.
- 128/256 Bit Encryption
- Valid SSL Certificate
- PCI Compliance for all Credit Card Transactions
- Payment Processing through a verified merchant service (Authorize.net)
- Is their website hosted on a shared hosting plan or dedicated server?
This one is especially important as this can compromise your personal info and credit card numbers since many websites can be shared on the same machine.
- Privacy Info
Will the company you choose agree to never sell, rent or provide any of your information to 3rd party references?
- Options to pay by PayPal or Google Checkout
This adds an extra layer of security by purchasing via Google or PayPal. Your sensitive financial information is securely stored on their servers. When making an online purchase, you provide only your PayPal or Google email address without ever revealing your financial information.
Anyone can offer a cheap price when no inventory or overhead is involved. Hope this helps in your buying decision.