Your Ultimate Guide to Online Shopping

Because you’re sort of getting the hang of it, but you still slip up on things here and there.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Online Shopping

You were always a little bit skeptical about online shopping, and avoided it as best you could – until you asked your friend where they got those shoes, only to hear (for the umpteenth time) that they “got it online”. Now you’re sitting on the couch with your slippers on and a bag of chips by your side, scrolling through items with ease, and wondering why it took you so long to jump on the digital bandwagon.

But beware newcomers; there are a few tips and tricks you should know before you make too many of those inevitable online shopping mistakes.

Assess the site
Before you even start browsing the items, you need to make sure that the site is secure and trustworthy. You can usually tell just by looking at the quality of the site, and if it’s the official site of a clothing brand (most of which have online shopping options now).

Convert the currency
It’s always disheartening to get to the end of a solid online shopping session and find that it actually costs a lot more than you were expecting. The currency switcher, if they’ve got one, will usually be at the top of the page. If they don’t offer your currency, it’s also likely they don’t ship to your country anyway (at least not cheaply).

Check shipping costs
On a similar note, always check the shipping costs before you fill your virtual basket up with goodies. You might be prepared to spend double the price of the item because you “just need it”, but just so long as you’re aware of it…

Check the returns policy
And then check it again. “Free returns” is a rare thing in this world, so you always need to read the fine print. Make sure you keep your online receipts, order numbers, and the form that comes with the package. Oh, and don’t get excited and rip all the tags off your clothes before you try them on.

Read the product description
Not everything about a product is obvious just from looking at its picture. Because you can’t physically hold the item, it’s important to read the product description so you know what it’s made of (or what’s inside) if you can’t see it.

Read the user reviews
And scroll down a bit, too. The positive reviews are usually at the top, and the negative ones a little harder to find. Again, it’s important that the site is trustworthy so that you know these reviews are coming from verified customers.

Check size charts
One day they’ll invent a universal sizing system, but until then, we have to deal with these things. Unfortunately, even if you’ve successfully converted your usual size, every site is different, and a lot of the time it’s a matter of trial and error.

Don’t turn your trolley/cart into your wish list
Although it’s fun to just add everything you want into the trolley just to see how much it adds up to at the end, it’s not a good idea. Once it’s all there and you’ve already ‘spent’ the money in your head, any price lower than that is going to look good.

Review your details
Once you’ve completed a successful session and you’re at the checkout, make sure you check your email address and shipping address thrice. Otherwise the old lady across the road could be the proud new owner of your sweet kicks. And she’ll keep them, too.

Use only your own internet
You’ll be far more susceptible to someone getting a hold of your bank account details if you’re using Wi-Fi in a public place. Wait until you get home and then shop online to your heart’s content.

Sit on it
It’s easy to play with “digital clothes” and “digital money”, until you get a shock from the sight of your bank account the next day. Once you’ve found an item you like, don’t buy it right away – bookmark it. Wait a day or two, have a think, and if you still want it the next time you sit down to shop online, then buy it. Don’t let the 24-hour sales panic you.

Soon, you’ll have compiled a collection of trusty websites, where you know the returns policy is good, they’ve got an automatic currency converter, the shipping is cheap, and you’re all over their sizing system. Once you’ve found a couple of those, watch out; you might just need to hide your credit card.