It may be true that you don’t need to know how to do your shopping online to be happy. And it’s safe to say that brick and mortar stores won’t all have disappeared in our lifetime. But as an older woman who has trouble finding the right fitting clothing at times, I do think that online shopping can be beneficial.
I like to use the analogy of the automobile when it first came out many, many years ago. I’m sure most people of that time considered cars one of those “passing fads.”
They probably felt they were getting along in life just fine, sticking to their horse & buggy, along with walking. But look at how far the automobiles have taken us now that they are a normal part of life.
I feel that online shopping can be helpful to all of us at some time or another. Trust me when I say that the more you use it, the more comfortable you feel doing it!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my local shops around town, and I love supporting small businesses. But there are times when it’s been easier to shop online.
I know when I was growing up, many of us shopped from catalogs. Well, now that the Internet has exploded, you really don’t see many catalogs anymore. Online shopping is no different than when we bought things from the Avon catalog or the Sears catalog, right?
My Personal Experience with Online Shopping
And let me give you a perfect example of how a recent conversation went with my stepmom (the 60+ model on my blog). Nancy was commenting that she couldn’t find a blush pair of shoes anywhere!
I asked her where she had gone, and she listed off at least four stores that she had visited. When I arrived home, I searched online and found her at least five pairs of blush shoes that were under $50 and fit into her preference of heel height!
I emailed her the links to the shoes within the span of 10 minutes without having to drive from store to store. She ended up purchasing one of the pairs, and loves them!
Granted, I have the advantage of a shopping affiliate site since I am a fashion blogger. My blog does make it easier to search for specific items. Yet Google can do the same kind of item searching to a degree.
I realize that as a fashion blogger my focus is on clothing and wearables. However, I do think many of the concepts that I point out can apply to many products! For instance, my husband and I have bought bathroom sinks, rugs and technology from online sources in the past.
Sizing Up the Size Problem
I know many women will argue that they can’t be sure about the size when ordering online, or they can’t see the color. These are valid points. But honestly, shopping is shopping. There are times that purchases don’t work out even when you buy the item in a brick and mortar store.
However, I always like to look at both the pros and cons when contemplating any issue, so – if we consider the above the cons – let’s talk about the positives.
The Positive Side of Shopping Online
If your clothing size happens to fall into some of the categories like petites, plus, or even tall, then online shopping can give you so many more options than shopping in stores.
In Nancy’s case I mentioned above, if you can’t find what you are looking for around town, you might have better luck online. This can be especially true if the item you want is seasonal.
Has anybody else ever had issues with buying a swimsuit at the stores in August? It’s practically impossible in my town!
As we age, shopping can become physically difficult. Especially if your knee or hip happens to be aching. Thus, sitting at the computer in this situation can be less stressful!
8 Steps to Online Shopping Success
If you are already an online shopper and feel comfortable doing so – good for you! If you haven’t had much luck in that area, then let me walk you through the steps I prepared to make it easier for you.
Identify the Website
Find what you like by looking up the item on Google, or if you found the item on a blog, click on the corresponding link. Now that you are on that store’s website, the fun begins.
Check the Return Policy
This is the absolute next step that I take. There is no use getting all excited about the item if returning it is next to impossible. Because the fact of the matter is, there are always going to be times that your choices don’t work.
In fact, many times I order more than one of an item (more details below), so being able to easily return one or more things is an absolute.
Most site return policies are located at the bottom of the home page. There should be a clickable link for shipping, handling and returns.
You want to make sure that it’s easy to return or bring back any items to the brick & mortar store. Many sites have free returns, but many don’t. How you choose to proceed is a personal preference, but I prefer to take them back to the brick and mortar store – unless the company has free shipping for returns.
I will warn you to watch out for many overseas companies. Not that you shouldn’t purchase from them, but you may need to analyze your decision in more detail (see below). This is only because many of their return policies are not always economical or easy.
Check Product Reviews
It is invaluable to know what other customers think about the same product. Of course, I always like to remember that reviews are subjective. However, if everyone thought the shoes ran big, then believe them and order accordingly.
It’s no different than reading online reviews for a hotel. To me, it’s suspicious if there aren’t any complaints or dislikes, but reviews do give some great feedback.
This is especially important if you are ordering from an overseas company!! Let me explain the difference to help you in the future!
Many overseas companies provide the exact measurements for the item. There is no added leeway, like there is from the companies you may be used to deal with. For example, if your chest measurement is 37 inches, then normally that’s what size blouse you would order.
However, for the overseas companies, the blouse would be too tight because there is no extra room. You would need to order a bigger size so that your 37-inch chest would have space inside the blouse.
If you are unsure whether you should order bigger or not, remember that it is much easier to have items altered to be smaller. However, it is not always manageable to have items made bigger.
This is where it is important to really analyze the clothing piece you are considering. Most of us really need to have items altered to make them fit us perfectly.
So, look at the piece and think about your body. If your arms are short and you tend to need most sleeves shortened, then ¾-length sleeves could be the best detail.
It’s also good to consider the size and height of the model. Just because it looks like a mini dress on the 5’10” model, it doesn’t mean it can’t be the perfect length if you are only 5’0″!
Now that you know about the return policy of the site, then the absolute best practice is to order a couple of sizes of that item. You usually take a couple of sizes into the fitting room, so why not have a couple different sizes to try on at home, too?
Think About Colors
You should know that color is one aspect of online shopping that you will never be sure about until the item is in your home. This is another reason you need to know the return policy. It may be described as blue, yet it looks greener on your computer monitor. And then when it’s in your closet, it’s teal!
It so happens that this is the aspect of online shopping that works out nicely, too! Once you have an item in your closet, you can check it with all your other clothing to see if it will match and work.
If it doesn’t, then back it goes. When you are shopping in the stores, you can’t check the new item against your entire closet until you get home!
Many sites will have free shipping if you purchase a certain dollar amount. This can be frustrating if you only wanted one item which doesn’t reach that amount.
One idea to counteract this is to purchase more. You could add in a couple of gifts for other people, essentials like undies, or even find something you weren’t looking for in the first place.
The other possibility is to order just enough pieces to get to this free shipping amount, and then return those extra items. But beware, there are times you may love those extra items!
Universal Shopping Carts
I recently wrote a post about a new concept called universal shopping cart. It’s one way to try to make your online shopping experience easier and hassle-free. This concept isn’t much different than how Amazon runs their site, and I have a feeling, it’ll be widely used soon enough!
Honestly, I think online shopping will be in all our lives at some time. Being able to navigate through this new wave of shopping may certainly make your life easier!
Are you a fan of online shopping? Or do you still prefer to go to the stores? Are you a fan and what have you purchased? Have you had any good or bad experiences? Please share your thoughts below!