Thursday, October 4, 2018

10 Tips to Help You Shop Smarter, Not Harder Online

black dress and grey cardigan with black tights and boots

Whether you struggle to find what you want or need or you worry about spending too much money, shopping can sometimes be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. There are so many great things in play today from online shopping to email alerts and rewards programs that make shopping a lot easier than it used to be for most of us if we know how to use them to our advantage. We're also, as a society busier than we've ever been before with a lot more distractions in our day-to-day lives and expenses to worry about, so anything that's easier, money-saving or less time-consuming for most of us I think, is a bonus. Here are a few tips to help make shopping a lot more fun and less stressful by avoiding some common shopping frustrations and letting some of these new advantages do the work for you!

1. Be Open Minded & Try On Everything You Like
It's easy to get frustrated, be in a hurry or just be lazy, but you really don't know if something you like will work on you until you try it on and the more options you try, the more likely you are to find something that works. Don't skip out on something you really like because you didn't bother to try it on - it might surprise you! Likewise, if it doesn't fit well, it doesn't matter how much you love it. It's not right and you shouldn't buy it. If you're exclusively online shopping, this approach still works. Many retailers like ASOS offer easy and free returns as well as a one-time fee you pay each year for unlimited free next-day delivery, which makes it pretty easy to order a lot of options to try on and send back what doesn't work.

2. Join Mailing Lists
Getting a bajillion emails every week from retailers can be frustrating for sure, but it can also be helpful for making it easier and more cost-effective when you shop. Emails from retailers will let you know when there's a sale, give you a discount code or tell you when the new lines come out. If you know that you love a few select stores, these emails can be invaluable and save you some money too! They'll also prevent you from having to purposefully visit each website regularly to see if anything new has come out or if the sale is on yet... Save yourself the hassle - sign up to the mailing list and enjoy the benefits.

black lace top, black & white striped skirt, black tights & boots, yellow bag, black sunglasses and red lipstick

3. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
If you're active on social media, it's a good idea to follow any retailers you like there to get inspiration, ideas and to be the first to find out about any sales, discounts and new items that might interest you. Often times the brands will link to the item you've seen in their social media post, making it easy for you to click and purchase without having to look for it yourself. With shopable Instagram posts, simply click on the photo where there's the shopping bag icon to see clickable links with the name of the product and the price and enjoy shopping directly through Instagram. Easy peasy!

4. Make Fit a Priority Over Size
Sometimes I wear a 12. Other times I can't fit into a 16 and on occasion I've had to buy a small. Sizes are not universal, they are simply a guideline and finding the right one online can be tricky. If you're ordering online, measure yourself and use the sizing charts for brands that you're not familiar with enough to know the sizing and make sure you can return the item if it doesn't fit. If you're in a hurry, order a few different sizes to try on and then simply return the ones that aren't right.

leopard print blouse, jeans, brown belt, brown boots, red coat, yellow hat & bag and black sunglasses

5. Have an Idea of What You Want or Need Before You Shop
I used to avoid shopping online because of the incredible overwhelm that would ensue. There are no walls so to speak on an e-commerce site, so the products available can be endless and who has time to scroll through thousands of pages? If you have even the slightest idea of what you're looking for, you can make this easier for yourself. Search for something like black dress or narrow down the options with the filters available to only see the styles, colours and sizes you're interested in. This will keep you from clicking on lots of things that won't work or fit and save you time.

6. Comparison Shop
If you find something you love, it may be available from multiple sources online. Compare prices, shipping & handling fees and return policies to find the best place to purchase it. I have often found some items that are up to £10 cheaper on one website than on another, so do yourself a favour and shop around. More savings equals more money for more shopping.

7. Click & Collect
Even if you live near your favourite shop, it most likely will not have all the stock available for the season, so this is where click & collect is going to come in handy. Many brands offer this for free while others charge a small fee, but it's almost always cheaper than shipping costs. You simply order what you want from the store and select click & collect instead of a shipping option. The item will be delivered to the store branch of your choice and you'll be notified when it's time to collect it. I've done this with stores like Laura Ashley, Gap and TK Maxx and it's been easy peasy!

Leopard print top, distressed jeans, black brogues, black cardigan, black sunglasses

8. Decide You're Happy With Return Policies First When You're Shopping Online
There are very few bummers as big as the major headache that ensues when you've bought something online and it's either not returnable or not easy to return. I recently bought some household goods online and some of them weren't quite right. It was going to cost almost three times as much as I paid for them to return them, so in the end I found a way to use them and kept them. They weren't that expensive and it all worked out really well, but I've heard horror stories about non-returnable expensive shoes or clothes and that's a disaster. Know your online retailers, read their returns policies and enjoy shopping with one less thing to worry about.

9. Loyalty Programs Are Your Friend
I must have 50 loyalty cards and there are only a few I've ever gotten rid of. If they don't do anything or save me any money, I don't need them, but the ones with rewards points and vouchers from time to time can help save money on everything from drugstore cosmetics to clothes & shoes. It's a no-brainer. These may come in the form of an online subscription of some kind, an app or a card, but however they're presented, if it's a retailer you buy from regularly, the savings can be a great perk!

10. There's an App for That
If there are a few brands you love and regularly buy from, then chances are you will benefit from having their phone app. Many of them have options for saving items you like, so you can shop when you're bored, while commuting to work or while you're waiting in line at Starbucks. If you're not keen to buy now, save it in your favourites for when you are ready to spend and enjoy being able to save some time.

Do you have any online shopping tips you'd like to share? If so, leave them in the comments below!

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