Making online shopping simple

Making online shopping simple

We live in an incredible future, where you can access information and connect with people like never before.  Or, should you be me, ignore all that and buy things.  Like, I can Google “cat shirt” and end up with this:

Click on the picture to be taken to the site

Click on the picture to be taken to the site

If you think I’m not buying that shirt, you don’t understand who I am as a human.

However, the internet is seriously huge, and full of things.  It’s overwhelming and kind of gross – I ask you, how much crap is being manufactured to feed all those websites selling polyester horrors for $5?  So, this post is my 5 hints to simplify online shopping.  Timely, you’ll agree, since I’m running a contest for a NZ$100 Asos voucher.

Tip one: have a plan

Things I learnt for the blog – the indexed internet is more than 4 billion websites deep (and that’s not including the bits of the internet that aren’t indexed).  Let’s pretend that 0.001% of that is clothing retailers.  That’s still 40,000 websites.  I do not have time for that.

So, I internet shop with intent.  Unlike a casual Saturday afternoon in bricks and mortar stores, I want my online shopping to be relatively purposeful.  That means I will:

  • Shop for particular items;
  • Shop when there’s another reason to do so (for example, a sale).

Two recent examples spring to mind – my beloved copy of Impossible Conversations, which I bought online because it was less than half what it cost to buy in a shop in New Zealand, and my delightful Rita Ora x Adidas sneakers, which I bought because I needed new sneakers and had them in my saved items list – and then Asos had a 20% off flash sale. 

Tip two: take a minute to think

Online stores usually have a “Saved Items” or “Wishlist” feature, and I encourage you to use the heck out of it.  It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of weird shoes and experimental fashion, and end up with a basket full of excitement verging on horror. 

It is extremely rare for me to buy something online without leaving it in my saved items at least overnight.  The exception would be where it’s something I’ve had my heart set on, and I’ve found it at a great price with a reasonable returns policy.  Generally speaking, however, I’m so far past needing clothes that finding it’s sold out overnight is not a big deal. 

This is also great for things you love that have sold out in your size.  I was obsessed with this bee shirt from Asos, and left it in my saved items for weeks while I waited for one to reappear in my size.  And now I have it (smug face).

Excellent collar clips from  Cobalt Heights  - another great online purchase

Excellent collar clips from Cobalt Heights - another great online purchase

Tip three: get informed

Two broad categories of knowledge are required:

  • Store policies;
  • What size you are in international conversions/brands.

The latter feels like it should be easy, but instead of relying totally on the conversion tables you want to really look at any reviews that mention fit, and any information the site gives you about the model’s fit (sort of like “Ella wears a size 8 and is 5’11” tall” which means – that mini dress is going to be work appropriate on this 5’3” girl).  

The most important store policy is the return policy, followed by the delivery info.  I’ve definitely ordered things online that haven’t lived up to expectations and had to return them – you want a decent amount of time to get that done (I’m busy!) and you want a full refund.

Finally, I know that email spam from brands is incredibly annoying, but signing up to a mailing list to get 15% off your first order, early access to sales and birthday benefits may be worth it if it’s a brand that you think you’ll make future orders with.

Tip four: take recommendations

I shop in stores in real life that have been recommended to me, or that friends have introduced me to, and online is no different.  Ask around and see where people are shopping, what the delivery is like and whether they have any recommendations.  Easy peasy.

Make online shopping recommendations to yourself (ya weirdo) – if you buy something you like, check out whether the retailer has a website and make a note to visit it occasionally to see if there are new things you’d like to buy.   This tip is the reason I expect to be buried with 10,000 Matchbox Studio pins.  

I also shop via Instagram, by following accounts that I think give reasonably honest opinions and (in the case of brands) post genuine pictures of the product.  Check out them hashtags so you can see current season product on people who aren’t models, and who have mixed it in with existing items instead of wearing the latest stuff head to toe. 

A sampler of my online hits, including a bikini (that was an amazing day, when that actually fit) and some sparkly shoes that I waited for a sale on. 

A sampler of my online hits, including a bikini (that was an amazing day, when that actually fit) and some sparkly shoes that I waited for a sale on. 

Tip six: think about delivery options

I live in an apartment building, and while I love that you have to get through three layers of security before you are in my apartment, it’s a pain in the butt for ordering stuff online.  No, I do not want to drive out to the airport on the weekend to pick up a parcel.  And why can some couriers access my building’s lobby, but not others? It’s so confusing.

Lots of people get things delivered to work (including me), but if that’s not an option, allow me to revolutionise your life.

Parcel Collect is a service offered by NZ Post that allows you to have your parcels delivered to a Parcel Collect location near your home.  Mine’s a Z petrol station, and once my parcel is delivered I have 10 days to go and pick it up.  It only works if things are being delivered by NZ Post, but still – I’m signed up and excited to use this service, and I think it would be awesome for anyone who works in a job where workplace deliveries are frowned on.