I LOVE ONLINE SHOPPING. SO MUCH SO, IN FACT, THAT THESE DAYS IT’S RARE FOR ME TO SET FOOT INSIDE AN ACTUAL STORE.
As much as I love online shopping, however, I know there are a lot of people out there who are very wary of it. I get quite a lot of comments from people telling me they’re “scared” or even “terrified” to shop online, so today I thought I’d talk a bit about why I love online shopping, and share a few of my tips. There’s definitely no reason for “terror”, so read on to find out how to shop online without getting burnt.
REASONS TO LOVE ONLINE SHOPPING
There are lots of reasons to love online shopping, but here are some of mine:
This won’t be the case for everyone, of course, but, for me, clicking the mouse, and having my purchases delivered right to the door is much less hassle than having to get in the car, drive to the mall, find a parking space… you get the picture. And anything beats battling your way round a crowded store at this time of year, no?
Of course, actually getting your item is slower when you shop online, because you have to wait for delivery, but while you’ll spend more time waiting for your purchase, you’ll probably spend less time actually shopping. Why? Well, rather than having to systematically search the entire store for that elusive item, you can use the site-search most online retailers make available, to filter it down to just the items available in your size, or in the specific colour or style you’re after.
THERE ARE MORE CHOICES
Unless you live in a very large city, with unlimited shopping options, chances are you’re stuck with the stores that are available at your local mall or high street. When you shop online, however, you can buy from hundreds, if not thousands of different retailers: many online stores also offer a wider selection of goods than their brick and mortar counterparts, too – for instance, it’s not unusual for petite, tall, plus size or maternity lines to only be available online (or at least to be very limited in-store.)
IT CAN BE CHEAPER
Yes, you’ll sometimes have to pay for delivery, but that can be balanced out by the many opportunities to use coupon codes or cashback sites to save on your online purchases. Of course, you can also use coupons in-store in some cases, but there tend to be a lot more of them online, and if you get into the habit of doing a quick search for discounts before buying something, you can often save money.
BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN’T FIT OR YOU DON’T LIKE IT?
With all of these reasons to shop online, why do some people still say they’re too afraid to try it? The most frequently-asked question I get when I talk about my online shopping habit is, “But how do you know it’ll fit?”
The short answer is that you DON’T. There is no way to guarantee that an item you buy online will fit you, any more than you can guarantee that an item purchased anywhere else will fit you. The only way to know for sure is to try it on: the benefit of online shopping is that you get to do that in the comfort of your own home, where there’s no harsh lighting, and where you can try the item with your other clothes, and make sure you love it.
And if it doesn’t fit? You don’t have to keep it. Any good online retailer should have a clearly-stated returns policy, which will allow you to send it back within a certain time-frame for a full refund. Most of the time, returns are free, but some sites do make you pay return postage.
KEEPING YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS SECURE WHEN YOU’RE SHOPPING ONLINE
A much more serious concern regarding online shopping is the fear that your credit card details or personal information will be stolen, or that the website you’re buying from will take your money, but not send the item.
To take the second fear first: if you’re shopping from well-known brands, there should be very little chance of something like this happening. Large, household name retailers have their reputation to consider, and won’t risk ruining it by not sending an item on purpose. Mistakes do happen, however, and sometimes items can be lost in the post, or orders forgotten: in my experience (which includes years and years of online shopping), it’s very rare for this to happen, though, and I can honestly say I’ve never had an issue that didn’t get resolved. Large brands have teams of staff dedicated to dealing with online sales, and there should always be a way to contact them and ask for help, this miminising the chances of you ending up out-of-pocket.
That’s not to say that small, independent brands can’t be trusted either: quite the opposite, in fact – I often find that smaller brands are willing to go the extra mile in the name of customer service, so don’t dismiss a small business just because you haven’t heard of them.
Follow these guidelines to keep your details and money safe when you’re shopping online:
- Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar, and URLs starting with https:// – they indicate a secure server, where your details will be safe.
- Use a credit card which offers some form of payment protection – Paypal also offers protection for buyers, which you can read about here.
- Keep your password safe for online shopping sites, and avoid generic or easily-guessed passwords, like your name, your birthday etc.
- Don’t use public computers for online shopping.
- If you’re unsure about a website, Google it: you should quickly be able to find some reviews that will tell you if it’s legit or not.
- Avoid sites selling counterfeit goods: not only is it illegal to buy and sell them anyway, these type of sites are more likely to be involved in other scams, which could put your information at risk.
SHOEPERWOMAN’S TOP TIPS FOR SAFE ONLINE SHOPPING
Once you’re sure you can trust the site you’re buying from, here are some other tips for safe online shopping:
TO MAKE SURE IT FITS
- Shop online from brands you buy from often, and whose sizing you’re familiar with.
- Check for a size guide: most sites publish measurements to give you an idea of how the item will fit.
- Read online reviews: many websites allow shoppers to publish reviews of their purchases, and these will often include information on sizing.
- Check out the model: some retailers provide the model’s height, measurements and what size she’s wearing, which will give you a rough idea of which size to go for yourself.
TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT
- Again, stick to brands whose quality you’re familiar with so you know what to expect.
- Check out the returns policy to make sure if and how you can send it back.
TO SAVE MONEY
- Never buy anything online without Googling for a discount code first.
- Sign up to a cashback site, to get money back on purchases.
DO YOU LOVE ONLINE SHOPPING? GOT ANY TIPS?[Image: Death to the Stock Photo]