When you're an avid car buff, you're constantly looking for parts that you can use for the various builds or upgrades you're working on. Buying aftermarket parts can be a cost-effective solution while also providing you with a wide range of options from various manufacturers. Shopping online can further help you save money and provide you with access to a cornucopia of products that your local stores may not carry, but it's important to be a careful shopper and only use online retailers that are reputable. Big-name retailers are an obvious choice, but those you haven't previously heard of can also be worth using. Before you move forward, however, make sure that the retailer is reputable by using these steps.
Look For A Physical Location
Browsing the vendor's site for a minute should allow you to determine whether the seller has a physical storefront or not. The presence of a storefront, in many cases, will suggest that the seller is indeed reputable. The lack of a physical store doesn't necessarily mean that you should avoid buying from the seller — there are plenty of reputable Internet-only retailers in the aftermarket parts world — but you'll want to verify the seller's authenticity in other ways.
It's always a good sign when you can find a phone number for the seller; the ability to talk to a representative before you place your order or in the event that you need to make a return can install faith in the online vendor. Be wary of any retailers that can only be contacted by a generic email address or a contact form on the website.
Reputable parts retailers can offer a wide range of return policies, but they should all be consistent with what you can get in a physical store. For example, you might be able to return an unopened product within 30 or 60 days for a full refund with no questions asked. After this timeframe, you might be able to return the product for an in-store credit. You should always be able to find a clearly written return policy that makes you feel comfortable with shopping. Steer clear of stores in which all sales are final.
Social Media Presence
Not every retailer needs to have a social media presence, but it's always a good sign if the site you're browsing has links for the retailer's social media accounts on various platforms. Check them out — ideally, there will be lots of followers and frequent updates from the vendor. These are both good signs of a reputable business.