Online Shopping: Everything You Need To Know Before Loading Up That Cart
Today I am super keen to talk about online shopping.
How do you feel about it? Personally I adore buying things online! There is so much more choice when you shop online, and you can do it all from the comfort of your own home, in your favourite PJs, hot cup of tea in hand. I’ve been buying things online for years, and in that time I’ve picked up some pretty great tips that even a seasoned online shopper may not have discovered! So grab that tea and check out my best tips for online shopping:
Check shipping costs
Before getting too invested in a particular website, make sure their shipping rates aren’t astronomical. If you’re living in the US, well, you are blessed and won’t necessarily face this issue because a huge proportion of online shops are US-based. In Australia, we often pay through the nose for shipping because we live so dang far away from everything! However, there are still plenty of international websites with very reasonable shipping – for example, ASOS ships anywhere in the world for free!
Not sure how to check shipping costs? My fool-proof method is to grab an item, any item, and put it in my cart. Then I proceed as if I’m going to buy it (but I don’t actually) – a step or two into the process, it reveals the elusive info. Shipping can vary from item-to-item but this works well as a guide – because if all I’ve put in my cart is a coffee cup, and they’re going to charge me $20 to ship it, chances are I should back away before falling in love with anything!
While we’re talking about shipping, you also want to check that the website actually ships to your country – even in this day and age, some companies won’t ship to Australia. Even Amazon – Amazon, guys – doesn’t offer shipping to Australia for a huge percentage of their products. Books? Yes, those they will ship every time. Make-up, bags, clothes and other lifestyle items? Very hit and miss. Boooo. There’s a whole world of Amazon Prime shopping out there, and nobody willing to send it to us.
Check return policies
The number one reason that people hesitate to shop online is because they’re worried about buying something that they’re not able to touch/try on/see in real life before committing. That’s perfectly reasonable. But if a website has a good return policy, you’re safe! Ideally you want to find a website who offer completely free returns AND won’t charge you the shipping fee to send the item back. It is this policy that entices people to buy up big, knowing they can just send back anything they don’t love. Personally, I once ordered a pair of shoes in two different sizes because I wasn’t sure which would fit better, and I knew I could just send the spare pair straight back to its home. Easy as!
Make sure you’re getting the best deal
Before hitting “add to cart”, have a cheeky Google and make sure you can’t find the exact same item for less on a different website. Many online shops, even if they predomintantly sell their own brand, bulk up their catalogue with items from other brands – which means that there could be other websites under-cutting them for the exact same pieces. I always do a quick copy & paste of the name of the item so Google is searching for the exact product I’m after, not just things that are similar. And if you do find it elsewhere, even if it’s not cheaper, weigh up the shopping costs and return policy – someone will surely come out the clear winner!
Find product reviews
If something has been on the market for more than 12 hours, I can almost guarantee there’s a review out for it (or at least for the shop/website selling it). Online reviews are easy to find, and always help me make my decision with confidence. You could even consider leaving a review yourself once your item arrives, to benefit other savvy shoppers in the future!
Check Google for discount codes/coupons
I learnt this tip from my super-savvy husband, who hits up Google whenever we order Dominoes. He always, always finds a current discount/deal, and as a result we haven’t paid full price for pizza like ever. Just type in, for example, “ASOS discount” and see what Google spits out. There are websites dedicated to scouring the corners of the internet and finding discounts, and while a lot of them turn out to be expired, you do occasionally strike gold and shave a few dollars off your purchase just because you took three minutes to Google.
Pay via Paypal whenever possible
If credit card security is a concern for you, Paypal is the ultimate solution. Paying via Paypal means that no third party is receiving your credit card or banking information. Plus, if your item doesn’t arrive in a reasonable amount of time and things seem a bit suspicious, you can easily launch a dispute with Paypal, who can get your money back if the dispute isn’t resolved by the seller.
Sign up for newsletters!
If you find yourself perusing the same online shops over and over, sign up for their newsletters! Stores often let their followers know when a sale is coming up, and sometimes offer exclusive subscriber discounts. It’s win-win!
If you’re a seasoned online-shopper like me, what tips and tricks have you picked up over the years? I am all ears! Let me know in the comments.