The Internet has enabled small businesses to open with low upfront costs. This enables them to create a storefront on the Internet that can be reached by people all over the world.
The issue with this is how do you know if a store on the Internet is legitimate and secure? Some of these stores are scams that steal people’s information. Other storefronts are legitimate, but insecure (large stores have had this issue too Target, Home Depot, etc).
It is difficult to determine if an Internet store is legitimate, so many people stick to stores that they know. This is why Amazon controls, such a wide swathe of online shopping.
People feel safe buying from Amazon and sellers believe they can reach more customers as a part of Amazon. Amazon sits in the middle charging a percentage.
Other people look to see if the Internet store has a physical address on their site and that the address shows a store. Some call the store’s phone number to verify that the number answers to that business.
This can help if the online store is tied to a brick and mortar location, but many online businesses are operated out of homes.
For online stores, you should verify that they are secure (shows a green lock next to the url) on pages that accept payment information.
Some people go beyond this and only use sites that do their checkout through well known payment gateways, for instance Bank of America or Paypal.
Another good idea is to read the online reviews. If they have been around for awhile they should have online reviews.