BBB Tip: Your Guide to Buying from Direct-to-consumer Brands

Staff Report

Friday, May 13th, 2022

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies don't sell their product to traditional and online stores. Instead, these businesses build, market, sell, and ship their goods directly to buyers—hence the name.

Many direct-to-consumer brands saw their business boom during the pandemic. In fact, according to a recent survey, nearly 60 percent of online shoppers say they will go out of their way to purchase goods directly from a brand, instead of going through a third-party retailer.

Many D2C companies advertise better pricing and quality over traditional retailers. But always evaluate claims, and keep the following in mind to make sure your experience as a buyer is safe and secure.

Tips for buying from direct-to-consumer companies
Get to know the brand before you buy. Many D2C companies are relatively new, which means you’ll need to do some research to find out if they have a good business reputation. When you visit their website, make sure the company has contact information, including a working customer service email or telephone number. Read reviews and look up any customer complaints on third-party websites. See if the company has a real social media presence. You can even search the company’s name along with the word “scam” to see if anyone has reported shady business dealings.

Read the fine print carefully. Before you order anything, look for the company’s return policy, including how they handle refunds. If important information about orders, shipping, etc. is missing and no one can answer your questions, you’re probably not dealing with a reputable business.

Be careful with social media ads. Thirty-five percent of D2C shoppers discover brands through social media ads. But legitimate businesses aren’t the only ones advertising on social platforms. Scammers also advertise on socials. Never buy a product through a social media ad on a whim. Always make sure the company is legitimate before you buy, even if the ad is forwarded to you by a friend.

Protect your personal information. Always read a company’s privacy policy to know how they will use any personal information they request. If a site doesn’t have a privacy policy, it could be a scam. In addition, never enter your credit card number, name and address, or other personal information to a website unless you’ve confirmed it belongs to a legitimate business first.

Only shop on secure websites. Check the site’s security settings before you interact with a company. Make sure the web address starts with “https://” and has a lock symbol on the shopping cart or purchase page.

Make purchases with your credit card. Credit cards offer certain protections your debit card doesn’t. If you make a purchase from a company that doesn’t deliver, you can report the fraudulent transaction, dispute the charges, and probably get your money back.

Save your order confirmation and receipts. Always save your order confirmation information and keep it handy until the item you purchased has been delivered, just in case any problems arise.