I used to think that I will never find myself into the online shopping frenzy because of how I love going to traditional brick and mortar stores plus I prefer the idea of things being easily tangible for me to try, wear, smell and so on in an instant. Fast forward to the Digital Age however, when almost every physical store has adapted into the e-commerce biz, it has made it difficult for me to keep my initial stance about Online Shopping true.
To be fair, what makes traditional shopping a rather fun activity is that it’s not only about going about different stores but you also get to have your minimum daily walk, maybe even a scrumptious lunch or afternoon delights with a friend or a couple of friends, and you get to do a makeover of sorts as well. But what makes it a bit tedious is the stress of crowded places, really big malls where you don’t memorize where each store is located and not finding anything that fits your style or budget. And that, my friends, is where online shopping shines.
Now, I’m not an ambassador of sorts for online shopping. I’m far from always shopping smartly, I’m afraid. I’ve had a fair share of stupid, impulsive, unnecessary buys here and there. Regardless, that didn’t really stray me away from going back to it.
Here’s a couple of things I learned from doing online shopping:
Verify the website first and foremost. Just a couple months ago, I had the misfortune of falling trap to a fraudulent website when I was purchasing a cheeky date dress. I honestly should’ve known, given that their website was very unresponsive and their information regarding payments, returns and refund or even the sizing guide looks like copy-pasted from generic sites off of Google. Most brands nowadays have verified Instagram pages where their store links are posted in the bio, so that should be at least a way for you to only access an actual working website. Avoid fraudulent websites at all cost because your personal information and bank details will be exposed and compromised.
Read the FAQ. I found this to be really helpful especially if I am buying apparel from a brand which I haven’t tried before. Reading into the brand’s sizing chart, return or refund policy, delivery methods, payment options, shipping costs or custom fees to be paid helps in making smart purchases so you wouldn’t end up buying something that either doesn’t fit or doesn’t work at all which is difficult or costly to return. It is also a plus in my books if the store has a reliable customer service team who can answer my queries before placing my orders.
Canvass the pricing between stores. Gone are the days when you have to go from store to store to canvass which store has the most competitive pricing and best stock because the results are made easy to find in no more than 5 seconds when you search on Google; it’s right in the palm of your hand. I have learned that just because a store is running a hefty discount on select items does it necessarily mean that they provide the most value for money. My best example would be when I purchased my Youtheory Collagen from Amazon which amounted to AED 130 for 290 tablets (AED 0.44 / piece), compared to AED 190 for 160 tablets (AED 1.18 / piece) from a local pharmacy running a 50% discount.
Don’t be afraid to check listing websites. I find this to be a nifty advice especially for an apparel I love which is luxury lingerie which is quite seasonal. You have to keep in mind that most, if not all, retail items depreciate value as soon as you purchase it. Often than not, you cannot resell an item more than its original or RRP value. The only retail item I know that defies this is luxury handbags — like highly-sought after, exclusively made Birkins. But for the most part, the theory stands true. And honestly, it doesn’t hurt to buy second-hand or thrift sometimes because you’re actually helping to stop the demand for fast fashion or mass produced items that would otherwise go to landfill.
Look for coupons or discount codes. You will notice how frequent virtual stores push promotional campaigns and discounts, especially nowadays that they need the business. Not to mention, referral codes or flash sales. They can be hiding anywhere from newsletter pop-ups on their website, content creator affiliate links and many more. They may just be a small discount but still helps in some way.
Buy with a friend to split shipping costs. From where I’m located, I find that most items coming in from the US cost a lot for me to ship than those which are coming from the UK. The lowest shipping cost I’ve found from the UK costed me around GBP 18 (approx. AED 82, on today’s currency exchange) versus the lowest I found from US which is USD 40 (approx. AED 147, on today’s currency exchange). This of course applies mainly to international or worldwide shipping as most of the time, buying local comes with free shipping. It doesn’t seem like a lot of savings per se, but I find paying almost half of the amount I pay for the actual item a bit absurd sometimes.
Give it at least 24 hours to buy a product. This is for my sisters who are victims to impulsive buying like me. Whenever I find something I want to buy, I put it on my favorites or in my cart and give it at least 24 hours before I proceed to buy it. Sometimes we just get this impulse to purchase an item for the satisfaction of purchasing something, but it doesn’t necessarily add any value to our lives.
Read reviews of the seller or product. Another great thing about the Digital Age is that it is so easy to find information about products today and to see how it fared for consumers. I use this tip mostly for cosmetic and makeup products because I wanted to make sure that I am making an informative decision about what will actually work with my skin type rather than buying into the hype and marketing of the product. Believe me when I say that there are many times that I almost purchased a product which would otherwise be damaging to my skin had I not read the reviews. In return, offer your honest feedback on the product or the seller as well after you’ve tried it so other consumers will also be aware and informed about your personal experience to help them decide.