What was the last thing you bought from an online shop? Are you the kind of person to spend hours perusing store catalogues and adding items to your cart? If you find the draw of online shopping too powerful to resist sometimes, you’re hardly the only one. Many people are only too happy to say goodbye to the inconveniences of visiting brick-and-mortar stores, such as large crowds, long queues, and disorganised sales racks – and most retailers have made it easier than ever for customers to shop for almost anything from the comfort of their own homes.
There’s truly a lot to be said for the ease and convenience of online shopping. However, any shopaholic will tell you the process comes with challenges as well. Making smart purchasing choices can be difficult and stressful when you have so many options directly at your fingertips, after all. It’s easy to be tempted into buying more than you need, and there’s also a lot of room for error when it comes to determining the right size and fit for wearable items.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to shop smarter online and snag the best items for the lowest possible prices. The next time you’re shopping for women’s pajama tops online or sorting through the sales section of your favourite shoe store, try a few of these helpful tips and tricks:
Create a Dedicated Shopping Email Address
Putting yourself on your favorite store’s mailing list will ensure you get real-time updates on sales, exclusive offers, and other special deals. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to time your shopping sprees around sale periods and make the most of any offered discounts.
The difficulty, however, is that emails and advertisements from online shops can clutter up your mailbox very quickly. One efficient solution is to create a free email account that you can use exclusively with online retailers. That way, you’ll be able to keep your regular email organised and mess-free. Whenever you feel in the mood to do some online shopping, you can just hop on over to your shopping inbox and see what offers are currently available from your favourite stores.
Take Your Time Searching
The online environment can make you feel like you need to buy, buy, buy as fast as possible. Learning to resist that impulse is one of the biggest keys to becoming a smarter shopper. Instead, take full advantage of the fact that you can compare similar items from many different stores. Browse multiple places at once for that LBD or that set of silk pyjamas to make double-sure that you’re getting the best possible deal.
It’s especially important to take your time online shopping when you consider that many items sold online go for a bit more than they would at a physical store. The last thing you want is to pay for an expensive product only to find a close or even identical equivalent being sold for much cheaper elsewhere. Even prices on the same items can vary a lot between the different stores carrying them, so do a studious comparison before settling on where to buy.
Read Item Descriptions Carefully
Investigate item details carefully for any important information that may or may not impact your decision to buy. When you’re shopping for clothing, for instance, it always helps to go over the descriptions for any special care instructions. Pieces that can only be hand washed or dry-cleaned may be a bit trickier to care for than ones you can just toss in your washing machine with your other clothes. In addition, information on the item’s material can give you some idea of how it will fit on your body, how durable it will be over time, and so on.
It’s especially important to note the return policies on the items you buy, as these will be your best friend if you end up with something that doesn’t fit right or otherwise doesn’t work for you. Most stores will have a general return policy but apply special rules to certain items, such as clearance items, swimwear, underwear, or accessories. Before you pay for anything, make sure to get clear on whether the specific item is eligible for return or exchange.
Check Out the In-Store Size Chart
You may have a general idea of what size you wear for clothes and shoes, but remember, sizing schemes can vary a lot between brands. The online stores you go to should provide you with a company-specific size chart that you can check against your measurements. While it’s impossible to tell how an item of clothing will be able to fit you without trying it on, having specific sets of numbers to compare should at least give you some idea.
But what if your measurements don’t line up neatly with any single size? If you find yourself between sizes, a sensible next step is to look at the item’s material. Clothes made from synthetic fibres like polyester, rayon, or spandex are likely to fit snugly against the body. If the item is composed mostly of natural fibres like cotton or linen, it’s likely to be much looser. From there, you’ll be able to make an informed choice about whether it makes more sense to go a size up or a size down.
Use Discount Vouchers and Special Offers
Discounts and deals abound online if you know where to look, so it’s always worthwhile to hunt around for them before you check out your items. Some stores, for instance, feature their latest sales, coupons, or discount codes on a regularly updated page. You can also browse dedicated coupon websites for a wide array of deals from different online retailers.
When a particular offer encourages you to spend more for relatively small perks, though, think twice before you click. Getting free shipping on purchases worth a certain amount might seem like a sweet deal at the beginning, but it’s likely not worth it if you weren’t planning to spend close to that amount to start with. Just shell out that little extra for shipping instead of loading up your cart with too many things you don’t really need.
Online shopping has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, but don’t let the rapid pace and the vast selection of the digital retail environment overwhelm you. Take your time and think well about every purchase and you’ll be a pro at getting the most bang for your buck in no time at all.