Only 10 years ago most of us, if we wanted to buy the latest fashion or cool stuff had to brave the shopping malls and go searching for it. A decade on and everything from home tech and fashion to food and healthcare can be procured at the click of the button, before we have even got out of our pajamas.
Whilst this feels like progress there are some warnings that must be heavily applied to the internet age of shopping. Internet shopping can be addictive, unsecure and disappointing when things don’t quite match up to how they looked on the screen.
If you love to pop online for your fashion shopping fix here are some top tips for making it safer, more enjoyable and even for saving you a bit of cold hard cash.
Keep your details safe and secure – this is a given but you’d be surprised how easy it is to unwittingly give your credit card details away simply by being on the wrong site at the right time. The most secure way of paying for online goods is by not giving your credit card details directly to the online vendor and instead using intermediaries such as PayPal. This gives you a lot more protection if something does go wrong and you will definitely get any money taken back with no questions asked. It also protects you against other online purchasing issues such as not receiving paid for goods and fraud. If the ability to use PayPal or other similar payment third party is not available be sure to read carefully the vendor’s terms and conditions so you are aware of their policy and approach to secure online transactions. Also keep an eye out for fraudulent activity on your account and report anything suspicious immediately as it makes it easier to track and return your money. Another option is to only use trusted sites such as Amazon and definitely check out your card’s online security protection policy.
Don’t fill your basket – it is easy, particularly if you are using credit, to get carried away with online shopping as no real cash is being spent and no large shopping bags are coming home with you so it’s much harder to track how much of a shopping spree you have embarked on. The great thing about online shopping baskets though is that you are able to edit them so you can splurge without actually spending a dime. A good tip is once your basket is full step away and come back to it a fews hours later when the thrill of the shop has abated and you can take a more sober look at what you have in your basket and whether you do need everything you have picked up. The ‘save for later’ and wish lists available on most sites allow you to edit your basket but save your choice for another day – spreading the cost of your online shopping and keeping your spending under control
Don’t pay up – the great benefit to internet shopping is that there are deals literally everywhere if you just know where to look. You have your big sales days like ‘Black Friday’ as well as individual sales on certain websites – but even if there is not a specific sale on at the moment you can still find money off coupons and deals with a bit of research. Money off deals are offered by sites such as dontpayfull.com on everything from electrical goods to clothing. You can search by brand or vendor to discover discount codes that when applied on checkout instantly save you money. Typical deals include a percentage discount, free delivery or even buy one get one free – so what are you waiting for?
Check the small print – you know the story. You see something online that looks just too good to be true so you happily purchase it only to find two days later that it wasn’t quite what the picture and description had promised. Instead of that too good to be true item you have a package full of lies and a smaller bank balance for the privilege. It’s not just blatant false advertising that can leave us disappointed with online shopping – even when retailers try their best to provide accurate images and descriptions we can still fall foul of internet hope. Clothing is notoriously difficult to get right first time with sizes varying drastically between websites and materials under performing for the price paid. All of this might seem like a headache, particularly when you find yourself spending more time returning goods than enjoying them but you can avoid it by simply reading the small print. Most online vendors will include size charts, material descriptions and other relevant information as standard so you can get a good idea of how an item is going to look, feel and fit much more accurately than by just relying on the picture and main sales text. Doing your homework will also encourage responsible purchasing habits as you take your time rather than giving into impulse buying
Be ready to return – if you do end up buying something that doesn’t quite fit your purpose you should be prepared to return it and not just keep it because it is too much hassle to post it back. Returns are inevitable so be prepared for this eventuality. You can help make this less of an onerous task by understanding in advance a website’s returns policy and whether the effort required is proportionate to the purchase you wish to make. If an online retailer has a complicated and drawn out returns policy you might think twice about using their services just in case something does go wrong
Compare and contrast – luckily for us all you can get the fashion item you’re looking for from several different retailers all offering slightly different deals and delivery options. This means it can be confusing when deciding where to place your money but it also leads to choice and the chance to find the best value for money. Best value doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper – as discussed this is the chance to look at the added value the retailer is offering with the item such as purchase guarantees and a straightforward returns policy