I have a confession to make. I am a shopaholic used to have a mild addiction to shopping, specifically the online variety.
For many, online shopping can be a scary, somewhat sweat-inducing journey into the realms of the unknown - "Will it fit me?", "What if it doesn't look good?", "Can I get a refund?", "I don't want to betray my local retailer."
All of these are valid questions and hopefully I can help to answer them by giving you some tips for effective online shopping, as well as outlining things to avoid. After a while it will become second nature, but for those of you who are just starting out, read on.
Firstly, let's start with why online shopping can be a great choice.
PROS OF ONLINE SHOPPING:
- Variety - there is much more to choose from and often you can buy a season ahead from the likes of the UK and the US, meaning you can be ahead of the trends in NZ.
- Cost - if you buy at the right time (i.e. change of season) you can get some great bargains as all the last season stuff is on sale. It also means that when your favourite store is having a sale you can get a bargain without having to brave manic crowds.
- Convenience - online shopping can be quick and very efficient if you follow the steps below. Many of us are time-poor and struggle to find the time to go and wander around the shops, meaning online shopping can be extremely handy.
Most of all, don't forget that shopping should be fun. Start small - buy things in cuts and fabrics that you already own/know will suit you. Once you get more confident with your purchasing, you can branch out into different styles and shapes, but first consult our style and colours guide to see what will suit you best.
5 EASY STEPS FOR SUCCESSFUL ONLINE SHOPPING
STEP 1. Measure yourself
I know it sounds obvious, but having accurate measurements of key areas will really make online shopping so much easier. When measuring, ensure you hold the tape firmly around your body, but not too tight. Be sure to write the measurements down and keep them somewhere handy. Better yet, save them in your phone or email them to yourself so you always have access to them.
There are four key areas you should measure. Perhaps get a friend or family member to help you get accurate measurements and be sure to use a soft tape measure, which you can pick up from your local fabric store or even some supermarkets.
1. Bust: Measure the fullest part of your chest.
2. Waist: Measure around the smallest part of your waist, around your belly button.
3. Hips: Measure the widest part, around your bottom.
4. Inseam: Measure the inside length of your leg.
Most of the time, online shopping sites will also have a 'size chart/guide' that shows you the measurements of the sizes they have in stock. Compare these with your measurements and see which size is the closest. Max, Jacqui E and EziBuy all offer comprehensive size guides - be sure to always check these out before purchasing.
STEP 2. Know what you want
I'm not just talking about dresses vs. pants here. Try and narrow down the colour, shape and material you are looking for. Pick out items in your own wardrobe that fit or drape nicely, have a look at the tag and see what material they are made out of. Then look out for material/fabric information when shopping for items online, nearly all websites should have this.
Tip: look at our style & colours guide to figure out what will suit you.
STEP 3. Save before you splurge
Nearly all websites will offer some way of saving items, either to a 'wishlist', or even to a shopping bag that doesn't empty for 30 or so days. This means that as you see things you like/need, you can add them there and come back to review them a day, a week, or even a month later. Often you'll find there are things you have changed your mind about, stopping an impulse purchase that you may regret later on!
STEP 4. Buy and you shall receive
Get orders delivered to a business address if possible, otherwise couriers tend to leave parcels without a signature at residential addresses. It's fine most of the time, but it pays to be safe. Plus it means you don't need to go for a trip to the courier depot - who has time for that!
STEP 5. If you don't like it, return it
I used to be a bit scared of returning items, no idea why. Perhaps I was hoping that, despite not even being able to get the dress over my shoulders, it would miraculously fit me in a week or two, or that I would "find an occasion" to wear it. The truth is, if you don't like it or if it doesn't fit, RETURN IT. You will usually get a refund or store credit, depending on the store's returns policy.* Max, Jacqui E, EziBuy and most other online stores will offer full refunds or the ability to exchange your item. Make sure you keep the tags on if you are wanting to return/exchange it, and also the original packaging.
*Please be sure to check the returns policy before purchasing anything online. Some websites may not offer returns, or it may end up being costly to do so.
If you follow the above steps, you should be on your merry way to a successful online shopping experience. However, there are some downsides to online shopping...
CONS OF ONLINE SHOPPING:
- Harm to local retailers - most Australasian retailers will have an online store, meaning you can still have the convenience of shopping online, while staying loyal to their business. In fact, sometimes stock which is unavailable in-store can be bought online. I have even had some retail assistants suggesting I buy online because they ran out of my size in a certain item. Sure enough, I went online and there it was. However, if you would like to buy from overseas retailers, moderation is key. Try to only buy things online that you feel you really can't get from local retailers.
- Items not fitting - yes, it's true that we are never going to be able to virtually replace the act of trying clothes on (though technology will surely try), but if you follow the steps above, you have a much better chance of items fitting.
- Items not looking good - sometimes things fit fine, but they just don't look good. If this is the case, don't be afraid to return it. Better to have your money back or have some store credit sitting there than have something sitting in your wardrobe that you will never wear!
When we were completing research for Gorgeous Me, we found that the key issue with online shopping for many women was the inability to try things on. Well, at least this way you can:
- Try the item on in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
- Invite family/friends to have a look. Stores will allow a grace period from when you receive the item until you have to return it (usually around 10-15 days), meaning you have a few days to make a decision before needing to return it.
- Try the item on with things you already have in your wardrobe to ensure you will get maximum wear/use.
Start out small, buy brands you know or already own and, in conjunction with following the above steps, you will be on the road to online shopping success!
Cover image: http://pinterest.com/pin/148055906472246735/
Do you have any online shopping tips of your own? Or anything else you struggle with when shopping online?