Online shopping isnt a new phenomenon. But in India, its been limited to certain sectors like electronics, fashion and books. E-commerce, when it comes to buying food and household essentials, hadnt really caught on. Thats because consumers always preferred to see and touch items before buying, especially fruits and vegetables. However, with the corona virus pandemic,local grocery stores and supermarkets have remained shut. People are forced to stay indoors, and cant always inspect what theyre buying in person. Naturally, the number of shoppers purchasing groceries online now, has shot up. Nevertheless, a few of us are yet to adjust to the new normal without brick-and-mortar stores. Are there a few tips everyone should remember while ordering groceries online? Definitely. Heres a quick checklist:1. Have your list ready Just like physical shopping, it is recommended to have a list of items ready when shopping online. Take stock of your inventory and note down what you need this way, you wont be distracted by colourful promotions, or browse unnecessary items and waste time. Youll also be more economical.Online shopping is cheap, but it can also be addictive due to the sheer variety and convenience involved. You can browse catalogues at bedtime, when travelling, or when youre just bored and sitting idle. In all these cases, you can rack up a huge bill without realising it. Dont give in to temptation. Add only what you need to the online shopping cart and quickly complete the purchase. This also prevents hoarding.2. Be flexible Online inventories are different from in-store inventories. As COVID-19 affects supply and distribution networks, there may be times when your favourite brand isnt available on an e-grocery platform,or you might experience a delay. Your chosen delivery slot may also be full. In such cases, be open to picking alternatives. Also make sure you account for fluctuating delivery times, so that youre not seriously inconvenienced if the order arrives late.3. Check the brandscustomer service and return/refund options This is an integral part of online shopping, regardless of what youre buying. There will always be cases when you want to talk to customer service representatives, whether it be to lodge a complaint, track orders, share feedback or cancel a delivery. Almost all popular and reliable platforms have policies in place to address common customer grievances, and review pages where other consumers have shared their experiences while ordering from the platform. Note down the companys returns/refund process if the item you ordered arrives with damaged packaging, a broken seal, visible leakage or if the item is pastits expiry date. As a form of quality control, the online shopping platform should be able to refund you or replace the items. 4. Dont wait until the last minute to order Different service providers have different delivery schedules. It may happen that orders in your area arent eligible for a chosen time slot, or they might take longer than usualto arrive due to external factors. Place your order at least a day or sobefore you need to use the items. This way, you get a comfortable buffer period for delivery. No need to track the delivery on your app, or make any frantic calls to the customer service team.5. Check for anin-store pick-up option In the wake of the pandemic, many local stores have started doorstep deliveries or in-store pick-ups because of limited infrastructure. Most supermarkets that have taken to online selling dont have their own delivery fleet, nor can they expend sales personnel for deliveries, making in-store pick-up most viable.In case you need groceries immediately, all you have to do is place an order, take a confirmation call, and then visit the store as per your convenience to pick up the items.6. Be sure about safety E-commerce platforms ask you to register and sign up with personal information like phone numbers and home addresses before delivery. All these retailers accept digital payments in the form of credit and debit cards, e-wallets, and UPI transactions. These solutions inevitably need you to punch in your card pin or bank account details.Such sensitive data can be misused, so make sure its a secure platform. The URL should have an the beginning, or a lock symbol in the address bar during transactions, which guarantees customer safety. Its advisable to only shop from reputed portals which have goodwill in the market.7. Double-check your order User errors are quite common in e-shopping. Its quite possible to accidentally order the same goods twice, or to mess up your customisation options. For instance, if you want ice cream, there may be different flavours or low-fat ones to choose from. There might also be varieties with a discount, which often motivates a purchase decision. Read the product listing carefully before placing your order. It saves you from the hassle of returns and complaints later.So there you have it! These are the easy online shopping tips for those new to the game. Not only will they help you buy what you want without the hassle of returns, but youll also be able to economically check most things off your list without standing in long queues for checkout. Time is money so why not save both?