For numerous reasons, I prefer shopping online. No parking fees, no lines, no snotty sales people…wider selection… Over the past several weeks, I have found myself in the mall more times than I can count. And, it has only reminded me how much I love shopping online.
Believe it or not, several of my friends have NEVER shopped online! Here are some solutions to some of the major concerns people have about shopping online:
1. Security – Online privacy and security is a major concern, and for good reason. I suggest using a credit card for purchases and registering for a Paypal account, which protects your credit card information from individual sites. Most online stores accept Paypal. This way, the funds in your checking and savings accounts connected to your debit cards are not at risk in the unfortunate event your private information is compromised.
2. Fit – Of course, one of the most important factors in any purchase is the whether an item fits, the quality of the materials, how it feels, etc. This is probably the biggest drawback to shopping online, but several tools make purchasing a bit easier. First, look for customer reviews, either on the specific site or Google the item and include “customer reviews” in the search terms. Other customers will let you know if the item is as described, runs big or small, and/or looks in person as it does online. The collective ratings given by customers will help in deciding whether to make a purchase. Typically I will buy if an item receives a 4 out of 5. If I’m really pressed, I’ll buy at 3.5. Another helpful tool is the size guide.
3. Shipping and Returns – I hate paying for shipping and will avoid it at any cost. Most sites offer free shipping if you buy a certain dollar amount of merchandise. More and more, however, sites are offering free shipping altogether. Returns vary. Some sites offer free returns. Others offer free return labels and the cost is deducted from the return price. Be ware, because a lot of times it’s cheaper to pay the return shipping cost up front/not use the free return label. Returning to the store is sometimes an option as well. That’s my favorite option.
4. Promotions – My main shopping buddy has finally rubbed off on me. I cannot buy anything at regular price. Online and in-store promotions oftentimes coincide, however there are also special online promotions. Sign up to receive notices by email of store promotions.
5. Be patient – Waiting for promotions, your package to arrive, and returns to post can be mind wrenching, but shopping online does have it’s advantages. For example, if you’ve ever missed out on an item in the store, even from several seasons ago, it can sometimes be found by a simple (or sometimes not so simple) search online. Another benefit to shopping online is the flexibility it offers – you can shop at any time of the day or night, at multiple stores at once, while watching television or on a conference call…
**Bonus – Essence magazine November 2011 issue gives a promo code for an additional 30% off at ASOS.com through August 9, 2012! F1248F6B2BDC
***Bonus – Topshop offers a discount to students, as does J. Crew.
What are your online shopping secrets and tips?