Happy Monday, dear gal. I’m so glad you’ve dropped in today. While we may see the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, most of us will continue to self-quarantine for a bit longer. And that means shopping from home continues to be our only option. A few of my readers who haven’t done any or much online shopping in the past, have asked me for tips about shopping online. So while I’m sharing 10 benefits of online shopping as well as 10 common mistakes people often make, I’m plugging into this post lots of tips to help you save time, money and a little sanity, too.
Let’s start with the positives!
10 Benefits of Online Shopping
While I’m really a tactile shopper (I love to touch and feel ALL the things!), I’ve come to prefer shopping from the comfort of my home for many reasons. And it’s more than just convenience! I find I’m a smarter, wiser shopper when I make my purchases online.
Benefit #1 – Online exclusive options
Most retailers offer a wider variety of styles in their online catalogs than in their brick and mortar stores. But you’ll also benefit from a wider selection of colors, patterns and even sizes online, too. And even if your local store does carry your size and fit, they may or may not have it in stock. But retailers hold back more of their inventory for online shoppers.
Benefit #2 – Online only discounts & flash sales
Several stores, including Gap, Old Navy and even Belk, frequently offer discounts exclusive to online shoppers. These are some of the stores I see offering these cyber shopping coupons most frequently, but many others do this, too, even when we’re not all restricted to home shopping.
Online Shopping Tip: Even if you followed a blogger’s link directly to the items you’re interested in, be sure to check out the retailer’s home page. Scour it for coupon codes that can save you big money. Generally those codes are at the tops or bottoms of home pages.Of course, I try to share those with my readers, too.
Also, in recent years flash sales have become all the rage, and I love them. These are usually sales that last only a few hours, maybe a day or occasionally a couple of days. But they’re almost always only available online. These flash sales offer significant savings, sometimes coupled with existing sale offers. For instance, recently Talbots has been hosting flash sales of “save $50 on purchases of $200” coupled with sale prices and existing discounts. Those savings really add up.
Online Shopping Tip: Sign up for retailer’s emails or follow them on Facebook if you’re interested in watching for their flash sales. While I do see them occasionally during the week, I notice most flash sales on Sunday evenings.
Benefit #3 – Easy returns & refunds
I know, I know. Most people think mail order returns are harder. But think about it. Returns are returns. Either way, whether you’re returning to a brick and mortar store or shipping the product back, a little effort is required. And personally, I prefer dropping a package at the postal service rather than standing in line at a store where I’ll probably end up seeing something else that I’ll buy. Plus, I get “return guilt” when I deal with the sales associate. Anyone??? And I used to be a sales associate! So I know better.
Especially during this COVID-19 time, most retailers are making it very, very easy and FREE to return your unwanted purchases.
Online Shopping Tip: When your package arrives, be careful how you open it. If the item was shipped in a plastic bag, you should be able to open it at a perforation close to the seal so that you can then reseal it for easy returns. Also, be sure to read return policies on the store’s website prior to ordering.
Benefit #4 – Round-the-clock accessibility
I appreciate being able to shop when it’s convenient to me and not just when stores are open. ‘Nough said!
Benefit #5 – More product information & shopper reviews
I scour the merchandise page for all the information before I make a purchase. I read the “about the product” for information about fabric, sizing, garment care and features such as pockets, zippers, linings, etc. I also thoroughly read the product reviews left by other shoppers. However, I only give credence to reviews left by shoppers who sound smart and who were looking for the same things I’m looking for in the product.
Online Shopping Tip: Scour the page for all the information! Check reviews for sizing and fit, fabric quality, laundering results and comfort. If there are no reviews, that’s when you need to know the difference in fabrics. If in doubt, look for natural fibers, such as cotton, wool, silk or linen.
Think about it. If you are shopping in the store, you don’t have access to this information…unless you hop online to check it out or spend a lot of time with the sales associate. I actually make much more educated decisions when I’m shopping online.
Benefit #6 – You can slow down the purchase process
Slowing down the process of purchasing is key to moving toward a slow fashion mindset, but it’s also crucial to building a wardrobe that works for you. Not to mention, slowing down our purchases will help us be wiser shoppers and more frugal.
Online Shopping Tip: If I’m just “browsing” online, I generally put things in my cart and then walk away. Later I come back and pare down my shopping cart before making actual purchases. I rarely if ever end up buying everything I originally put in my cart. And sometimes I’ve received emailed discounts from the retailer for free shipping or an additional discount if I’ll come back and make the purchase.
Benefit #7 – One-stop gift giving
Shopping online for gifts cuts out the need for me to ever handle the gift. I can simply order it and ship it to the recipient, usually for free. Most retailers give you the option to indicate if the purchase is a gift, so the recipient won’t receive an itemized receipt but will receive a note from you, if you wish. And online retailers such as Michael Kors even provide free gift wrapping (when you sign up – for free – for their VIP program).
Benefit #8 – It’s safe!
I know there was a time…way, way back when…when online shopping seemed a little risky. But at this point, it’s safe. Yeah, there’s the very rare case of security breaches here and there. But retailers have even more at stake than you do when it comes to keeping your information safe and secure, so you can bet they’re doing everything they can to protect you.
Honestly, I’m more prone to accidentally leave my credit card in a store than I am to have my information mishandled or stolen online. The store is doing their part; we just need to do ours.
Online Shopping Tip: Create an account with the stores you shop online and log in for each purchase. That way you can track your order and make easy returns. Be sure to use different passwords for each account and change them occasionally, maybe quarterly.
Benefit #9 – Try on items in the convenience of your home
This is probably my favorite benefit. I really dislike most fitting rooms, and I love being able to try my new purchases on with all the items in my closet and the proper shoes.
Benefit #10 – No pressure from sales people
Okay, look. I used to be one of those sales people, so I have absolutely nothing against them. My daughter is one now. And I know from experience that most sales associates are not trying to pressure me into a purchase. I take full blame for feeling pressured or swayed by the sales associate. That’s on me.
But it’s also real. I shop with a clearer head online than I do in the brick and mortar store. I bet you do, too.
Online Shopping Tip: If you need help making a purchase decision online, many retailers now have virtual assistants or call lines. Use them! You can “chat” with an associate online or pick up the phone and call. I do this frequently.
Okay, I know this post is getting long. So I’ll hit these briefly. But I was specifically asked by a few readers to point out mistakes they need to avoid when shopping online. And, as a style blogger who earns a living from online shopping, I want your experience to be safe and savvy and satisfying. Let’s get started!
Mistake #1 – Paying with a debit card
I know some folks don’t like to own credit cards. I get it. But I highly discourage making purchases online with a debit card. It’s much harder to rectify mistakes or recover any losses when you make purchases with a debit card, since it’s actually a cash card. So I encourage you to have a credit card that provides you with a cash back option or some other reward for shopping retail. Then simply pay that credit card off every month.
Online Shopping Tip: If you shop a particular store or two frequently, you might want to open a store credit card for that retailer. You’ll earn rewards and receive sale options available only to those store cardholders.Again, I suggest keeping these cards paid in full.
Mistake #2 – Not registering for store reward programs
Most every retailer I shop has a store loyalty program you can register for, and they’re all free. Really gals. They do not bite. They do not sell your email address or other information. They do not take advantage of you. Maybe they did long, long ago in another time. But now there are laws in place that prevent such abuse. And the stores are simply trying to build loyalty, so they have no reason to abuse you.
Online Shopping Tip: Be sure to log in to your account with a store before you start your shopping so that your cart is up to date and you get all the benefits you’re suppose to from the loyalty program.
Mistake #3 – Not checking for coupon codes
Like I mentioned above, check the home page of the store’s online shop for coupon codes. And sometimes you can stack several codes for multiplied savings. You won’t know unless you try!
Online Shopping Tip: Bloggers like myself do all we can to supply you with the shopping coupons you’ll need to get great buys. That’s why it’s a great idea to follow a few of us and receive our weekly or daily emails.
Mistake #4 – Not reading reviews and other information at the bottom of the page
I especially like Everlane’s information section. They’ve even made it so you can enter your size information and see reviews from other customers with your same dimensions. How cool is that?
Mistake #5 – Not checking size charts and guides
Sizing is different for different brands, so it’s crucial you check the size charts for the particular item you’re considering. At a store like Nordstrom, which carries multiple brands, you will not wear the same size in all clothing. Each brand provides a size chart that details where to measure. So compare those measurements to the size chart for your optimal size in that garment or accessory.
But also check reviews for sizing comments from previous shoppers.
Mistake #6 – Using a public or unsecured wifi connection for shopping
The best place to shop is on your home’s wifi connection. Resist the urge to shop from a hotel room (guilty!), restaurant, library or other open connection. This is where you information can be stolen.
Online Shopping Tip: Not for security, but for ease of shopping, I suggest shopping from your laptop or desktop computer over your mobile device. Most retailers simply have a better shopping site for the computer rather than the mobile device. However, stores that have apps for your phone or tablet usually offer a comparable experience there.
Mistake #7 – Failing to calculate shipping & returns
Many if not most retailers are offering plenty of free shipping options right now. But even when things return to normal, I prefer to look for free shipping. That’s why I love shopping from Nordstrom (which offers free shipping and returns to everyone) and retailers with whom I have store credit cards.
Online Shopping Tip: Look for FREE Returns, not just free shipping, when possible.
Mistake #8 – Not ordering multiple sizes and/or colors
That’s the beauty of free shipping and free returns. If the store is making it easy for you to ship and return, they’re prepared for you to over-order. They’ve calculated this into their budget, so take advantage of it. Especially when you order from a brand you’re not familiar with or that you haven’t worn recently, order multiple sizes. You can easily return the one you don’t keep.
Mistake #9 – Trying to shop online alone
Okay. Here it comes! My pitch to let bloggers like myself help you through your shopping experience. You need to know that I and the bloggers I know and support take your trust very seriously. We want to help you shop; we’re not just trying to sell you things and make a buck. So, since your trust is important, we work hard to provide you with up-to-date and accurate information about brands, styles, fits and sales.
Online Shopping Tip: If you want to help the bloggers you follow earn the commission we work hard for, simply follow our links to the appropriate store and complete your purchase during that visit. If you leave your cart and come back later to complete the purchase, just retrace your steps from the blog. But in the end, we trust that “it all comes out in the wash!” And we appreciate your attempt to get us the commission. Thanks so much for your support!
Mistake #10 – Trying on clothes the wrong way and time
Just because you get to try on clothes at home rather than in a public fitting room, don’t blow it! Try on your new purchases after you’ve showered and put on your makeup. Gather some things from your closet to try with them. Put on the proper shoes and accessories. And don’t try on shoes when your feet are tired and swollen from the day. You’d be surprised at the difference trying on things at the right time and way can make.
I hope these tips and warnings help you have more positive and successful online shopping experiences. Just a reminder, I do love it and appreciate it when you shop through my blog. You’ll find a list of stores I shop in the sidebar (at the bottom of the post on mobile devices) through which you can shop any time. And I have pages with my favorites at Talbots, Ann Taylor and Nordstrom. These are under the Shop tab in the top menu. Finally, you can shop my looks through that same tab and through the link in my profile on Instagram.
Thanks so much for stopping in. And for staying so long. Hahaha! Have a great day!
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Blessed for My Day
Do you know someone who is growing discouraged? You could be a wonderful source of encouragement and strength to them today. Maybe drop them a short text with a favorite scripture. Or call them to see how they’re doing. End the conversation by reminding them that you believe in them and that you know they are up to the challenge they face…by the grace of God.
Our words – whether written or spoken – have so much power in the lives of other people. Let’s use words today to fuel courage, energy, momentum and confidence in those we love.
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11