How to use our Online Store
Please take the time to scan through this online buying guide; even if you are an experienced online buyer there is some relevant information here for you. You should especially note the first item, our advice about delivery addresses and deadlines.
New to Online Stores?
Here, we want to explain to new online buyers how our webstore works, and how to go about ordering online. There are many people who make their first online purchase with us, and we are always looking for ways to make that process easier and more straightforward. You can even help us with that! Before that, though, let's consider a very important point, regarding your delivery / shipping address:
Please note the following:
1. The package will be large.
2. It can only be delivered during the day.
3. It cannot be delivered 'next door', only to the precise address stated.
4. A signature is required.
More than 50% of our customers decide to think again about their delivery address, after we contact them to check they have considered these requirements. Maybe at the office / workplace would be better? Perhaps with a relative or friend who is home that week? Please think about it carefully...
If you have a delivery date to meet you must tell us. We ship worldwide and naturally we choose the most economic method that will satisfy most requirements. If you must have delivery by a particular date we need to know, so that we can choose the fastest delivery method in the usual price band - or a better one if necessary. Also keep in mind that we build each picture carefully, by hand, to meet your exact requirements. We don't have framed pictures 'in stock'! With this type of process, 'next day delivery' is not normally possible - though we will do what we can if you really do need your picture in a hurry. Tell us!
How is an online store different from a High Street one?
A High Street store or shop has the advantage that you can feel the goods first, and you can pay with cash. After that, the advantages are all with the online store. You can shop at home; you don't have to go out in the cold and the rain (a big plus in Britain); you don't have to traipse all round the mall; you can shop with a store based anywhere in the world; you can get those local flavours that just aren't available in your area; you can compare the items you like with hundreds of others; you can compare prices much more easily; you can compare service and guarantees; you can do it at your leisure; and you don't have to carry it home.
How safe is it?
Well, you won't get mugged, but there are other concerns. Mainly, these have to do with the security offered by the seller; whether they are genuine businesses or not; and if they can deliver what they promise.
Security: firstly, do they look like a respectable business? Some obviously don't, so this is a first pointer. Do they tell you who their Merchant Partner is? Some online stores take your card details themselves, others use a payment gateway, known as a merchant partner, to process the card details. That is the method we use, and it has several advantages for both of us:
1. The merchant partner is a financial transaction agent for your bank. They have to be safe, secure, and good at their job or the banks will not deal with them.
2. The merchant partner fully handles the authorisation of the cards, so they are responsible for ensuring that the cards and the purchases are genuine.
3. We never see the customer's card details, and this may have advantages for both of us. We can't make a mistake, for instance. The fact that we don't see or store card details is always better for security.
4. The customer goes into a secure system at the end of the checkout process where all the details are processed. This means that our website hosts, and our merchant partner, are fully responsible for ensuring a secure environment. They are much better at this than us, because this is their business.
5. Our site hosts, 1st Easy (http://www.1steasy.com), are ecommerce specialists who have fully-protected servers. This does not apply by any means to all online stores and their web hosts.
6. Using this system means that we never store any customer's financial details at our site or with our hosts; these are collected within the secure system operated by the merchant partner.
7. We don't have to spend time processing card purchases – the bank's agents do it.
8. There are no known negatives to this method – it is used worldwide millions of times a day. The system is fast and efficient.
On the other hand, you can phone us if you wish, and complete by telephone if that is your preference.
OK - but can the store deliver what they say - and will they?
Well, who knows what tomorrow may bring, but we have a good history here. You can email us for some customer testimonials, and we're fairly certain that if you get in touch with them they will be happy to tell you the score. We have a lot of satisfied customers, worldwide, who will tell you we are quick, efficient, and deliver on quality. Ask them.
Testimonials are a vital pointer toward an online store's performance; but might of course be forgeries. All we can say is, contact some of our customers – we're sure they won't mind.
How to use the Store
Simple, really, when you know how – but let's suppose it's your very first time buying online.
The first thing to note about our store is that you don't have to be an account holder to buy.
You can just go right ahead and buy something, and we don't ask you to log in or anything. On the other hand, there may be advantages to having an account; one of them of course being that you never have to fill all those address details again. See more of what we do best, here - framed pictures.
Choose and order a framed picture
Right, let's now pick a Category from the big navigation menu on the left, on the front page; or from one of the featured subjects in the displays. The front page is also called the home page or the index page. For instance, you may be interested in a fashion picture from the Victorian era.
Look down the page at the left, and choose Fashion: clothes etc. Click on the name – a name that is blue and underlined is normally a link, that is to say, a conduit to another page. Hover on the name with the mouse cursor and see how the pointer changes to a hand with pointing finger; this means it is a working link. Left-click with the mouse, and a new page opens: the Fashion Category page.
I quite like the Harness Electric Corsets picture shown down the page, so let's go there. Well, nothing changes like fashion! You can see, if you hover on the picture or the caption, that these are links. Click one.
We are then taken to the page where the picture is displayed at a larger size for our edification. A rather frightening prospect, I would have thought: an electric corset made by the Medical Battery Co. of London, 1893. No pain, no gain, I suppose. Still, nowadays it's hidden body piercings and intimate tattoos (so I'm told), so plus ça change.
If, then, it suits our purpose, we decide to buy it. We must first choose a size. In the text box to the right of the picture is a list of picture sizes, which is called a 'spin box' – if you click the arrow at its right, a drop-down list of sizes and prices appears. Let's choose the 26 by 20 inch (65 x 50cm) size, at 79 pounds sterling, or £79 UK if you like.
Next, we need a frame type, so let's go for the first choice, mahogany, which tends to work with anything. Click the 'radio button', which is the tiny round box next to the frames.
Then, we can choose a different mount if we want – the mat or card surround within the picture frame, under the glass. However, the default (the standard or 'fall-back' setting) of ivory suits 99.9% of pictures, so let's leave it.
The quantity we need is normally 1, so leave that spin box as is. Click the icon next to it, Add to Basket, and off we go to the next stage. An icon, by the way, at least in the online world, is a small graphic representation of something else larger and more complex – in this case, an invitation to pop this picture into your shopping trolley and move along.
Now we can see the next stage, the situation within our Shopping Basket (or trolley, or cart, or order state if you prefer). You can remove the item by clicking the icon at top left. If you now decide you will need three of these pictures, one for each of your aunts, you can change that here.
At this stage you must decide whether to continue shopping, or to checkout (pay for your order and leave), and you can do either here. To continue back in the store, click any menu item and you will go there. The 'basket' will keep your order until you return. Or, you can go to the top right menu item now, Checkout, and leave with your purchase.
Click on Checkout, then, at the top right, and you go to the billing department. Here, your address details (but not your card details) are collected. At this stage you are in the first secure section of the system, which you can check by looking at the padlock at the right of the address bar. If you click it, it will tell you who audits this secure channel (Thawte).
Once done, then click Continue, and you go into the primary secure system. At this stage everything is not only encrypted and private, but you are also inside our host's secure ecommerce facility, and are about to be connected with the bank's agents. If you click that tiny padlock icon now, it tells you that Verisign audit this section. Card details are collected, you click to buy, and that's it. You can choose delivery types, and may be given a currency conversion, that's to say a cost in your local currency.
There are also options to pay by cheque, or to confirm a previously-agreed price variant. Don't forget you can always call Tony, he'd like to hear from you.
Voilá! Tricky maybe, the first time round, but things get easier with familiarity; you might even get to like it! And please - don't forget what we said about deliveries, right at the top.