I actually cannot believe that I haven’t done a post with tips for online shopping yet! I LOVE online shopping. The stores where I live (aka, a$$ end of the world) don’t offer much, and are only open M-F 9-5:30 (be prepared for dirty looks from staff if you enter after 5 pm), and 10-5 on Saturday if you’re lucky. 10-4 on Sunday maybe. There are shoe stores here in Dunedin that are only open until 1:30 pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday. I really don’t feel like battling everyone else in Dunedin on Saturday, so I do nearly all my shopping online (where the stores never close!).
Certainly there are some sites I gravitate towards more than others: trademe, amazon, modcloth, free people, anthropologie, fabric.com, just to name a few.
So what makes a great site? I like big sites with a lot of variety, the ability for customers to leave reviews and excellent customer service. I won’t deny, I rely on customer reviews quite heavily for any site that offers them. Yes, I am that person who is legitimately reading the reviews for comments on quality and size, looking at customer photos, looking at the customer’s measurements (if provided) and then making a decision to purchase or not. But there is more to shopping online than just reading the reviews…
My top tips for shopping for clothes and shoes online:
- Look up the measurements. Know your measurements. Write them down somewhere. Are there garment measurements? Even better – compare them to a similar garment you already own. (I know that at 5’6″, any dress shorter than 34″ or 86 cm will be too short for me to comfortably wear to work – or anywhere else that for that matter!).
- Read the product reviews. Did someone else find it too small? Too large? Poor quality? I always read and consider product reviews and they absolutely affect my decision to purchase.
- If you aren’t sure what size to order, consider the style. Is it a super tight fitted dress? Order a larger size to be on the safe side. Boots? Larger. You can always add insoles or wear thick socks. Boxy dress or top? You can get away with a smaller size. Jacket? Consider if you may want to layer a heavy sweater underneath, or whether if it’s a loose anorak/parka style you may end up swimming in it.
- If you’re new to online shopping, start with brands you already know fit you. It’s no guarantee, but it’s a good place to start. Some companies are much better with sizing than others (Under armor is hugely variable, as an FYI).
- Read the store’s shipping and returns policy. There’s nothing worse than not only finding out that something doesn’t suit, but that you can’t send it back.
- Test calculate the shipping (assuming they ship to you. I’m a huge fan of NZ post’s YouShop feature). If the cost of shipping is outrageous, I won’t be buying. Some sites, of course, offer free shipping!
- Look for coupons. Literally google “store xyz coupon code” – I have honestly had some luck this way. Also check their facebook page or other social media for secret sales and exclusive deals.
- I know it clogs up your inbox, but if you really love the store, sign up for the newsletter. This way you won’t miss their sales.
- Shop around. Compare websites (google your product’s name. someone else may just be selling it cheaper).
- Found something you love but it’s out of stock? Sign up for notifications. Google again, reverse google image search.
- Shop the opposite hemisphere. The great thing about living in NZ is that the northern hemisphere is always having sales on the season we’re about to go into. Take advantage of being out of sync!
- And finally, accept that sometimes despite your best efforts, things won’t fit, or they’ll look different from the picture, or just didn’t suit you for whatever reason and that you’ll have to send them back or on-sell (in the case of trademe). Hopefully this won’t happen too often! And all the money you’ve saved by shopping online should offset this cost (in theory).
What are some of your best online shopping tips? Have I forgotten anything?
Now, go forth and spend as you no longer need to be afraid of shopping online!