Although I had dabbled in shopping online I was not a convert until recently. Online shopping used to feel too risky – Would I like how the product looked? Would it fit? Having learnt from trial and error I now feel confident shopping online so I wanted to share my tips with you.
1. Buy from a reputable site. This could be a brand’s official website or one of the major online boutiques such as NET-A-PORTER. While the lure of deep discounts can be tempting, not everything on the internet is genuine. With a reputable site you will get authentic products and decent customer service. Plus many of the major online boutiques have sales, so there is still the chance to get a real bargain.
2. Check the site’s policy on import fees. If you are buying from overseas then your purchases may be subject to import fees (taxes and duties). Some sites like Shopbop and NET-A-PORTER offer to estimate the amount of import fees so these can be prepaid at the time you make your purchase.
3. Check the site’s returns policy. If the site has a good returns policy (free returns, pre-printed returns labels etc.) then you can feel more confident buying clothing or shoes without knowing how they will fit. If the returns process is going to be more complicated then you may wish to stick to items such as jewellery and bags, where fit is less important.
4. Check the measurements. Measure yourself and compare your measurements to the site’s size chart to determine which size to order. This is essential as a variety of sizing may be used (UK, US, European etc.) and even the same size (e.g. a UK 12) can vary greatly across labels.
5. Look carefully at product photos. With accessories, photos will show you proportion e.g. how large a bag is. With clothing pay particular attention to what the fabric looks like, using the zoom function if there is one. Photos in conjunction with the product description will give you a better idea of what you are purchasing. Remember to look for your chosen product on various reputable websites as they may have different photos of the same product.
If you have taken the above tips into account with a potential purchase, then my last piece of advice is that sometimes it is worth taking a (calculated) risk. The beauty of online shopping is the access it gives you to a variety of products and often discounts that would otherwise be unavailable to you.