“I live, I shop almost exclusively on the Internet. I’ve bought cars on the Internet. I watch television, I do everything on it. I even watch my son online.” ~ Tom Ford
Resurgence of Online Shopping
With Quarantine in full swing and stores having been closed in most places since March, online shopping has seen a huge uptick. It is where EVERYONE is going if they need something. While stores are beginning to open up or are offering curbside pick-up there is no doubt that this pandemic has irrevocably changed retail and how people shop.
Even before the pandemic, brick and mortar stores were becoming obsolete. I lived in the shopping mecca of the country if not the world, just a couple blocks from iconic fashion streets, Fifth and Madison Avenues. And yet, I would always go online if I could. I even shared a few years ago about being the “Anti-Social” Shopper, long before we were forced to social distance.
Technology and Shopping
We live in a cyber world where everything is online. I was born in that bridge generation, where computers were something we had but they weren’t imperative to our way of life. Heck, I remember car phones, which came in huge bags and plugged into cigarette lighters and that was considered one of the first “cell” phones. Beepers or pagers, desktop computers that were massive and bulky, and websites that had very basic coding.
Shopping online, social media, even streaming services, seemed almost fantastical twenty years ago. The way technology has expanded has also impacted the way we shop. We have a tendency to want instant gratification, and shopping online does not only give us that with a click of a button, retailers like Amazon, are now finding ways so we get our products the next day and even in some instances the SAME day. The internet has changed how we shop, it has also made it so that we are more savvy shoppers, wheeling and dealing looking for the best bargains. Here are some of my tips for the best online shopping experience.
This might just be the number one tip I have for shopping online. Reviews are your friend. Anything from how reputable the shop is, to quality of products, to sizing, people will let you know. Nobody wants to get excited about ordering something and then receive the package and be incredibly disappointed because it does not fit or the quality is cheap and subpar. A company having a major online presence both with marketing and sharing the positive as well as negative reviews, shows how transparent they are, and that they WANT to be easily accessible.
While I hold a lot of stock in reviews, I will caution that sometimes you have to make your own judgements. There are unfortunately bitter people out there, who will just post negative reviews. That said, sometimes they are correct. I always go by the percentage of positive or negative posts. I also look as to WHY they have an issue with a product or even brand. If it is sizing, I will see what kind of body type the reviewer is, and base whether it will work for me (typically it does, because short girl ovah here!) off of that. In other instances if people are saying a project is cheap or faulty, I will usually listen and search for another brand.
Measuring and Sizing
When ordering clothes online, it helps to know your measurements. Sizing can be all over the place depending on which retailer you are buying from. And occasionally companies will change their sizes, which is where the aforementioned reviews come in. It isn’t just a small, medium, large, these days. Or size 0 to 14. I wish it was that easy. Having even just a rough estimate of your inches, height and weight can help when purchasing clothes as can knowing what sizes you typically run.
That said, it is a very fine line. As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder and HATES weighing myself, and honestly hasn’t done so in years, I can understand how triggering seeing those numbers can be. That said, for me it was also triggering to not have things fit, I use to feel a lot of shame and like I was this horrible person if I didn’t fit into something. Also, I REALLY hate sending clothes back.
Knowing your inches, helps because you are less likely to have to send stuff back, as well as not feel horrible when something doesn’t fit. For me, I have become much more confident in sizing and with MY sizes. It was a long time coming, but the thing is, I KNOW stores are all over the place. I have yet to go to a store where I am the same size across the board and THAT is alright. Ultimately do what makes YOU feel comfortable, but also be aware your worth is not defined with whether you are a small or a large and sometimes you can be a small and end up being a large in the same store. AND THAT IS OKAY.
E-mails and Coupons
I know, I know it seems like EVERYONE is asking us to sign up for e-mail and they pinky promise not to send our information. While it can be annoying, especially if they are sending you a gazillion e-mails, one bonus is all the deals and coupons you get, especially if you shop online. I love a bargain and being signed up with a store (I typically only do my favs) helps save that moolah. Pink Lilly is one of those stores that is always sending out coupons and notifying me of special deals. This also includes (for the US) Memorial Day Weekend and Black Friday. While yes brick and mortar stores go all out, the hidden holy grail of sales is on the World Wide Web.
You also need to look at affiliate and customer loyalty programs. Is it worthwhile for you to sign-up? Will you be shopping from them multiple times a year and be accumulating points that will save you money? All questions to ask yourself not just when shopping, but picking a store to give your hard earned money too.
A downside to internet shopping is the shipping, but even online retailers are quickly finding ways to speed even THAT up. In fact that is one of the reasons why Amazon is so popular because through their Prime program they give unlimited free shipping. While free shipping is great, you have to be careful that it won’t take forever and a year, unfortunately with the pandemic, and consumer volume, it is taking longer time for packages to get here. You also have to look at whether or not there is a minimum to reach free shipping and whether or not that is worth it, or it just a gimmick from the company to get you to spend more.
While I hate having tons of e-mails in my inbox, saving your shipping messages is important as it has your order number as well as tracking. You never know if you might hit a snag with your order and/or delivery. It also pays to ship to an address that is a business or has a doorman so your packages won’t get stolen.
Customer Service is a HUGE one, especially when shopping online. Packages can get damaged or even not show up. Having a good return policy is so incredibly important and a great indicator to how they treat not just their customers, but even their employees. A company that goes above and beyond shows that they care more about the person then the income. It is also how they create loyal for life customers. Anthropologie and Lush are two such companies that have made me customers for life. I have had packages lost (Anthropologie) and I have had them damaged (Lush) and both times they not only offered to refund me, but ship me new ones. Companies that do returns for free (in the guise of free shipping) show they care and understand that YOU as the consumer are taking a chance by shopping with them online and that they appreciate and respect that.
Online shopping is extensive, but it can also be fun exploring the world wide web, whether you are buying, selling, or thrifting. From hitting that order button, to tracing your package to finally receiving and opening it, their is a lot of excitement that you don’t get from your brick and mortar stores. While it is also a lesson in patience, the amenities at your hands are expansive. Have fun ordering and happy opening!
Do you shop online? Have you become more of an internet shopper beacause of the pandemic? Which do you prefer brick and mortar or the internet? What are some of your tricks for shopping online?