Novice or Maven – Be a Better Online Shopper

Don't Be Afraid to Shop Online

 
Topics: Shopping, online shopping, bargains, fashion

 
I would estimate that I buy 75% of my clothing online. This seems to shock a lot of people – many tell me that they would be too afraid to buy anything online. Be afraid no longer.

 

 
First of all, reasons for shopping online:

  • Convenience. This is obvious. Shopping online saves me from shuffling through racks of clothes, only to try them on in a hot dressing room (side note: WHY are Irish dressing rooms SO WARM?) and realize that I’m wearing the wrong bra or shoes, or it might be what I want but I’d really need to try it with a certain necklace, etc. Shopping online means that I can try things on in my own time, in the comfort of my own home, and the ability to pair the object in question with the rest of my wardrobe so I can see if it actually fits in with my other pieces.

 

  • Looking for something specific is much easier. We’ve all been there – running from shop to shop because you need silver shoes to go with your dress and none of the shops have any and now it’s raining and the shops are going to
    close soon and Oh God…

    Yeah, I’d much prefer to be at home on my laptop, type “silver shoes” into my favourite sites, sip some wine and click. Plus, a pretty large portion of my wardrobe is built on a whim. As in, “Man, giraffes are so great. I want a dress
    covered in giraffes!” Bit of searching and one week later I was the proud owner of a giraffe printed dress by Fever, one of my favourite dress brands.

 

  • It’s economical. I am all about supporting local businesses – in fact, I’ll be spotlighting Irish shops here in the future – but the fact of the fashion industry is that there is a huge mark up in shops. It will inevitably be cheaper
    to buy something online – and even if it isn’t, there is almost always a coupon code online. Literally just google “[name of site] promo code” and you’ll find something. Signing up to mailing lists and newsletters is a good way to go as
    well – if you don’t want to clutter your inbox and aren’t into setting up mailbox rules (I’m a bit of a tech nerd, so I am) you can always create separate email address for that stuff. If you’re a student, MyUnidays will sort you out. If it’s a small designer and you can buy from their site (rather than via Amazon, for example) without losing too much money – do it.

Obviously, there are downsides. Mostly people seem to be worried about the fit. I am a firm believer in knowing your measurements; if you take them honestly and compare them to the size guides, you should be fine. Even better is when a site like Modcloth (my absolute favourite site) has a community based system wherein you can read reviews from other customers who can alert you if something is running small or big, if it’s got a bit of stretch to it, how comfortable it is, etc. etc. All that being said, sometimes things just don’t fit – or don’t look like the picture, or don’t actually suit you in the end. Which brings me to the next point –

 

 
Be knowledgeable about their return procedure – and actually make yourself return items. Most sites do free shipping* at this stage (and if not, there might be a coupon code that gives you that same perk…), but paying for return postage isn’t really that
big a deal (how much would a bus to and from town cost you?). Boohoo.com leads the way in Great Returns as it offers free Irish returns, which is amazing. Asos has a courier option that will pick up the package from you anywhere in Dublin for under a
fiver (and there are drop off points and other options for you non Dublin folk). Make sure you document your return, and read their policy carefully to know how much time you have, when you can expect to get your money back, etc.

 

 
Finally, don’t be afraid to kick up a fuss if things go poorly – within reason, of course. If you pay for express shipping and your product doesn’t reach you on time, you have the right to complain. If the sizing is misrepresented, you should let the seller
know. And if you’re having trouble with customer service, take it to Twitter. It may seem petty, but your rights as a consumer are important. And nothing gets a company to respond like being called out publicly. Mistakes happen – but how a
company deals with the mistakes is what really matters. My parents are adamant that if a restaurant is running behind and can’t honour your reservation time, they should offer you a drink. If a company messes up your online order, they should
offer a small discount for your trouble. After all, something that was supposed to make your life easier has now taken up your time. Be polite – and remember that the person on the other end of customer service probably isn’t the person making
policy – but firm.

 

 
For me, the benefits of online shopping far outweigh the detriments. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy a good old fashioned browse in a shop – but really, I just love to browse SO much that I like to do it at home as well.

 

 
*If you’re in Ireland and don’t want to pay huge shipping costs from UK sites, both Parcel Motel and Parcel Connect offer virtual U.K. addresses, which lets you ship an item to the UK and then pick it up from a drop off point in Ireland for a small fee. For
example, a brand I like in the UK only offered free shipping to the UK – to ship to Ireland was over 10 pounds! I used Parcel Motel, paid less than a fiver, and picked up my package around the corner from my workplace. It was super quick, and super
easy.

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