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A Guide To Safe Online Perfume Shopping

Updated on July 18, 2011

I’m not sure about you about but I have never bought a perfume without testing it first, either at my local perfume shop or using a perfume sample – that’s when I’m lucky enough to get my hands on a sample either in-store or online. Perfume marketers would have us rushing out and buying the latest perfumes based entirely on their enticing adverts full of sexy, sultry bodies in unbelievable locations. But that doesn’t seem to work on me. Am I alone?

My point is that because perfume is such a subjective thing (what works for me may not necessarily work for you) there will always be a place for high street perfume shops and retailers. But if you’re topping up on an old favourite, or brave enough to buy a new perfume without having tested it on yourself first, then the Internet is the best place to shop.

There is certainly no shortage of online perfume shops which is good for us as consumers – increased competition means better prices. But unfortunately it seems that there is also no shortage of unscrupulous merchants waiting to rip us off. Hopefully these few tips will help you avoid being taken for a ride, whether you’re shopping for perfume or indeed anything else online.

Is it Genuine?

Perfume manufacturers try to keep a tight control over where and how their products are sold. Nevertheless, genuine wholesale perfumes are easily available on what is called the grey market i.e. outside of official distribution channels which means that just about anybody can sell even top designer brand perfumes these days.

However, there also seems to be a booming trade in counterfeit designer goods, including perfumes. There have been reports in the past of counterfeiters producing top brand perfumes on an industrial level (tens of thousands of bottles). So how do you avoid this problem? Well this is where you have to be a little bit discerning and look at more than just the price when shopping online.

Most high street perfume shops have online stores these days and they’re easily recognizable. They tend to sell most of their products at recommended retail prices (as authorized perfume retailers they have to) but usually have very competitive sales where you can pick up real bargains. Perfumes sold through these stores are pretty much guaranteed to be genuine. Then you have the purely online retailers who tend to offer huge discounts across all of their products but often source their stock through the grey market – but that doesn’t mean the goods aren’t genuine. It’s just that you need to be more careful when buying from these retailers so do some research before you part with your cash.

Who are these People?

Genuine and trustworthy online stores will make it very clear who they are and where they are, providing information like a physical address (not a post office box), a contact telephone number and email address. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across online stores where the only form of contact is via an online form - that immediately rings alarm bells for me. I mean who are these people that are going to take my money and if things go wrong (as they sometimes do) how will I be able to reach them? Customer reviews are always a good source of information and don’t just rely on reviews on the actual shopping site itself. Do a search for that particular store with the word “reviews” after it or if the site uses an independent company like eKomi ( to manage reviews, follow their link. You can find out a lot about a company from its existing customers.

Is it Secure?

If you pay online using a credit card you are usually covered by your credit card provider for any fraudulent transactions but even then the wait and the hassle just aren’t worth it so before you enter your credit card details anywhere, first check, is the site secure? Always ensure that your browser connection is secured using SSL. You can check this by looking at the address bar in your browser to see if the checkout (or at the very least the page where you enter your card details) is secure – it should start with https:// instead of the usual http://. Depending on which browser you are using there may also be a small padlock in the address bar. If you don't see any of these icons then don't enter your details.

Also check to see who’s actually processing the transaction. If it’s Google Checkout or PayPal then you’re safe as these are well trusted names and they can assist you if anything goes wrong. Of course there are lots of other recognized payment providers but if you’re at all uncertain about them, even after checking out their sites then consider moving on to one you do know and trust.

If you’re a seasoned online shopper then none of this will be new to you. If you haven’t shopped online before then I hope I haven’t alarmed you too much. Shopping for perfume or indeed anything else online these days is very safe as long as you keep your wits about you.


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