Muzak, racks of clothes and friendly/pushy/disinterested (insert adjective here) sales assistants versus your couch, a blinking cursor and a cup of tea/glass of wine/water (insert preferred beverage here). Squishy change rooms and unflattering mirrors versus the comfort of your bedroom. Small talk versus silence. Cash or EFTPOS versus credit card or PayPal. Shopping in store versus shopping online. Which do you prefer? Whether you’re a seasoned online shopper, or wanting to experiment with purchasing through websites, hopefully this post will provide some good tips for you.
Internet shopping has exploded during recent years. We are now able to purchase products from virtually anywhere in the world at any time of day (or night) with the click of a button. It has increased competition, and also sadly been a contributing factor in the failure of many businesses in Australia. Magazines now dedicate entire issues to products that can all be purchased online. Online shopping can be a fantastic advantage for people in remote areas who do not have access to many shops, or for people who require different sizes (like me, with extra long pants). Being able to buy online has opened up my clothing options one hundred fold.
Commenters on Style Unearthed and my Facebook page have split opinions. Some favour shopping in store as they are able to try on garments to properly determine fit. Readers Michelle and Karen like to shop traditionally to feel the quality of fabric, and whether the clothes will suit their style. Kat likes to shop both ways, and enjoys online shopping more when they companies offer free postage and free returns if needed. Another commenter likes to shop locally and support small business. Mr Style Unearthed prefers to buy his soccer boots online because they are so much cheaper.
However you prefer to shop, trying on clothes in store is the most fool proof way to go. You can see how clothes fit you straight away. Shopping online has a certain element of delayed gratification, not so good for impatient people like me! It is nice receiving a parcel in the post, though. If you do not normally shop online, or would like to start, I have put together some tips for you to make the process a little easier.
Style Unearthed’s top online shopping tips:
– If you can, use PayPal. PayPal is designed to protect your banking details. When you establish your account you can do so with a credit or debit card, or by linking your bank account. If your purchase does not arrive you can lodge a dispute and in most cases, be given a refund. It is recommended as a safer way to shop online.
– Make use of sizing charts. All clothing websites have sizing charts, showing the measurements of their products. Ensure that you follow their guides for measuring your body to get the best fit. If purchasing from the United States or United Kingdom for example, look up a conversion chart like this one to check your size.
– Take careful note of product descriptions. Just because something looks like cotton, leather or jet black in colour doesn’t mean it is. Most websites provide good descriptions of their garments. If in doubt, email or call their customer service line.
– Sign up to the email lists of your favourite brands to get their best deals. When I was pregnant with both my children I bought maternity clothes from the US as they were much cheaper. I still receive emails several times a week about percentage off sales, free postage offers and new product information. Brands like Oroton, Diana Ferrari, and GAP frequently send hard to resist offers to my inbox.
– Find a good package forwarder. Some companies will not ship their products from another country if it is available in Australia. Other companies want to charge a small fortune for postage. A reliable package forwarder will repackage multiple items into a single parcel, shop using their credit card if a store will not accept a foreign one, and even go to a store to find a specific product should you request it. I used Box Voyage when purchasing from the US in the past, and found them very good to deal with. (Please note that I do not have any affiliations with them in any way – I am simply a satisfied customer).
– If you prefer to buy in store, use online shopping as a planning exercise, or virtual ‘window shop’. I love to pin my favourite finds on my Pinterest page and come back to them later. It lets me put together whole outfits and plan my shopping expedition. I find it a lot more productive than wandering when I am shopping with children and a bored husband.