Online Shopping Tips

Monday, July 13, 2015
Shopping online was something I was looking forward to for the longest time; since I didn't have my own credit card, I had to wait until I was 18 before I could shop online. Whenever I talk to people about online shopping, they're very skeptical about it for legitimate reasons (mainly sizing and returns). Over the past few years, I have made my mistakes with online purchases and have gotten carried away a few times because shopping online is the perfect retail therapy for many people. From ignoring the size chart to not paying attention to the return policy to not reading what the material was, here are my tips for either first time shoppers or people looking to find ways to really make it worth it.

For first-time shoppers:

  1. Order off a site you're familiar with: My first online purchase was from Topshop. I tried on a dress in store, knew my size but decided to wait for it to go on sale before I bought it. When I saw the dress I wanted was half off, I jumped at the chance of purchasing it because I knew I wouldn't go wrong with the size since I previously tried it on. Being familiar with the store makes it easier because you're familiar with their sizing for different items.
  2. Always make sure you understand the return policy: The one thing you try to avoid with online purchases is needing to return it via mail and having to pay for shipping costs. I've done this a few times with online stores since there obviously was no in-store returns and suffered the consequences. A lot of stores you order online like Urban Outfitters and Zara let you return your online purchases in-store. Other stores like Forever21, let you return it in-store but only for store credit. It's very important to understand the return policy because if you're really unsure about an item you want, you don't want to lose money because you thought you could return it!
  3. Don't feel embarrassed to ask help from customer service: I've always hated to talk to customer service about absolutely anything, whether it's a retail store, a restaurant, I always felt bad because something went wrong. I always would hear horror stories about customer service being unfriendly but as long as you approach the situation with the right attitude, they are the most helpful people. 
  4. The size guide and comment/review section are your friends (look at #5 in the next section for an advanced explanation): Super cliché to say but very true - SIZE DOES NOT MATTER. Every store has a different size guide so it's better to follow the size guide and the reviews about the product instead of worrying about what's on the label. I'd rather have a dress that fits perfectly and comfortably than making sure it's a size 0.
  5. Don't rely on just the picture the store advertises: This brings us back to #4 - reading the comment/review section! There are those times where it's better to size up or size down for a product and the reviews of other shoppers are extremely helpful if you need to make such a decision. 
For the experienced online shoppers:
  1. Look up promotion codes/coupon codes: Websites like RetailMeNot come in handy when you want to save money. It's not like they have a 50% off coupon but saving even 10% is worth it to me.
  2. Don't forget to log onto reward websites for maximum rewards/savings: I love gaining AirMiles and you can gain AirMiles online as well! Go to airmilesshops.ca before making a purchase and you'll be able to earn miles at stores you wouldn't normally earn AirMiles at in-store (like Forever21, Hudson's Bay, etc.)
  3. Pay attention to a store's behaviour: This may sound odd but I tend to notice how store's are with their promotion deals the more I pay attention to it. For instance, at boohoo.com they usually have some kind of sale on but more often than not, they'll have a coupon like 30% off everything. If you pay attention enough, you'll start to order from stores whenever they have sales. 
  4. Don't forget that stores carry different brands: ASOS carries tons of brands and I made the mistake of not checking both size guides. I was a certain size in a brand called "New Look" but when I ordered that same size from the ASOS brand, it ended up being way too big. If you're looking at the ASOS size guide, that's the guide for ASOS branded items. Find out  if the brand you're ordering off of has a website so you can look at their size guide to compare the measurements on ASOS. Another reason why this is important is because you can avoid shipping costs sometimes. At ASOS, I can receive free shipping over $45 but if I ordered off of New Look, I would only get free shipping for purchases over £55 (which is approximately $108 in Canadian currency). ASOS carries a variety of brands including New Look and they offer free shipping rates that are much easier for people to afford.
DISCLAIMER: I say "experienced" because some people are not comfortable with online shopping so I don't want to bombard them with a bunch of tips if it's something they're not used to doing!
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