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Choosing online shopping over Black Friday

November 22, 2013

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by Shannon Ables
Portland writer

The Simply Luxurious Life

The big shopping weekend of the year is nearly upon us, and with more than 140 million shoppers expected to shop online for Black Friday through Cyber Monday deals, I wanted to share a few tips for taking advantage of the benefits of online shopping whether it’s during the holidays or throughout the year.

Personally, as someone who lives in rural Oregon, online shopping is a life-saver. While I would prefer to shop in person for many items from clothing to decor, when this option isn’t available, shopping online can work just as easily, and often better. Let me explain:

Benefits of Shopping Online:

1. Endless Options – often online shops have more selection than what is found in stores which enables you to get exactly what you want in the proper size, color or style that you desire.

2. Buyers’ Market – with the endless options, you can compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal on the precise item you want.

3. Save Time – While there are some days I love perusing and trying on clothes, there are others when I know what I want and I just want to get it and move on with my day. Online shopping is perfect for busy schedules and anyone who typically would have a long commute to their favorite shops.

4. Save Money – there are numerous ways to save money. After all, with it being a buyers’ market, brands have to come up with even more creative ways to bring you to their website, and savings is always at the top of the list.

How to Save Money:

  • Google It to Find the Lowest Price – Often depending upon the website that is selling the item, there will be semi-annual sales that other sites don’t offer, so be sure to search the entire web before purchasing the top, dress or pair of shoes you had your eye on. Simply type in the name of your item (brand and description) and press search. You’ll be amazed at what pops up.
  • Bookmark Your Favorites and Have Patience – I am a fan of using the bookmarklet Hukkster. If you know exactly what you want, but don’t want to pay full price and are willing to wait, simply click the Hukk It button that you will need to drag to your toolbar, and you will be emailed when your item goes on sale.
  • Follow Favorite Fashion, Decor and Shopping BlogsMizHattan is one of my go-to fashion websites to keep on top of all of the latest sales on women’s clothing. And while TSLL isn’t strictly a fashion website, I will often alert you to sales at the sites I frequent as well. So stay tuned!
  • Find Promo Codes and Coupon Savings – before clicking “Purchase”, scour the web for extra potential savings. Here are a few of the top coupon sites: retailmenot.commycoupons.comsmartsource.com, and coupons.com. And when in doubt, do a quick Google search for “brand” & “promo code”. I have found more savings doing the latter and saved myself more than a few bucks.
  • Wait for the Semi-Annual Sales – Most labels, shops and department stores have semi-annual sales at the tail end of the two major shopping seasons (fall and spring). Significant savings can be found in December/January as well as June/July.
  • Sign up for Newsletter Alerts – I have signed up for many newsletters from my favorite brands, and by knowing when the sales begin and being able to stop by on the first day of the sale, more sizes are available on the most popular products that consumers will flock to. So many designers are offering flash sales in the middle of the week throughout the year, that you don’t want to miss out.
  • Purchase Prime Memberships – If you are a frequent shopper at a certain site (Amazon for example is my monthly stop), purchase the membership savings option that is available. Amazon offers a Prime Membership of $79/year which provides free 2-day shipping (did you know they are going to ship on Sundays nationwide beginning in January – NYC and LA already have this luxury through the holidays). A certain savings if you are shipping items often.
  • Sample Sales – If you are lucky enough to live in a metropolis that offers sample sales at your favorite designer shops, these sales are gold-mines and worth the effort to work your way through the crowds.

But just as there are a multitude of happy customers who have found their deals and treasures on the web, there are always horror stories. With anything, knowledge is power, so here are a few ways to reduce those unnecessary headaches:

How to Reduce Unnecessary Headaches

Check the Return Policies – check the window (number of days) you have to return your item. Often small labels will have a very tight return policy – 10-15 days, so be careful and quick in your decisions if you choose to buy. Also, note if sale items can be returned. Sometimes, sales on reduced items are final.

Check the Size Guidelines – Sizes vary depending upon the brand, designer and country, so look at the actual measurements of each size instead.

Shipping CostsZappos and Nordstrom both offer free shipping on delivery and returns and many other retailers are learning that this is a deal-maker or deal-breaker if they don’t offer their customers savings. Often, they won’t automatically calculate the savings in, but will instead mention a promo code at the top of their site which means it is up to you find it, so look closely. If the shipping is excessive, it may not be that much of deal, but more often than not, the shipping is very slight.

Only Shop on Trusted Websites – there are too many websites that want to take advantage of the uninformed customer. A simple piece of advice is that if it looks too good to be true and it’s on a website you’ve never shopped on or heard of, don’t do business. Instead, shop only on sites that you know to be trusted.

Do In-Store Research if Possible – One of the reasons I’ve become more confident when I shop online and do it more frequently is that I’m buying brands that I am familiar with. For example, I understand what a 27 is for J.Brand jeans and how that same 27 differs for MiH jeans. Why? Because I’ve tried them on. Same with shoes.  While in Paris a few years ago, I wanted to try on a pair of Lanvin ballet flats. I wasn’t in the market to buy a pair, but I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to try them on in person any time soon. Turns out, I need a size larger than I expected because they run small. For future purchases, this will save me a headache.

Read Customer Reviews – I don’t suggest you take all reviewer’s comments at face value, but do read through them. After all, you don’t know their body type or experience with clothes in general. However, if a similar comments pops up frequently, it may be something to consider before buying.

Now with these tips and strategies in your arsenal I am confident you will have a successful and money-saving holiday shopping season this year. Be sure to stop by TSLL next Thursday (November 28) and Sunday (December 1) to discover all of the sales, deals and promo codes that you’ll want to take advantage of this bustling shopping season. Happy holidays everyone!

  
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