13 Ultimate Online Shopping DOs and DON'Ts
I'm pretty sure I have a look of pure shock and bewilderment on my face when someone tells me that they don't really shop online. Woah! Uh, what now!? As someone who does 80% (I think... I'm terrible at math!) of her fashion and beauty shopping online, it's a really hard concept for me to grasp. To me the pros of shopping online are almost too many to list; it's convenient, the variety and options at your fingertips are endless, you can compare the specific item you want on different sites to ensure you're getting the best price, discount codes are AWESOME and plentiful, and then there's the added excitement of waiting for your parcel to be delivered to your door.
I've come to the conclusion that the top reasons people don't shop online more, is that they aren't sure how to go about it, which sites they can trust, whether their personal information is secure, how to navigate the endless ocean of websites, how to figure out their size, or how to get good deals.
Luckily, I'm here to help you become an Olympic online shopper (okay, I know that's not a thing, but it should be! Am I right?!). Even if you are new to the game, after this post you should be able to dive head first into the wonderful world of online shopping and not sink down to the bottom.
Our 13 Online Shopping DOs and DON'Ts:
1. DO check out our carefully curated list of the best online shopping sites for fashion and beauty products, which we personally shop on frequently.
2. DON'T just buy the item you want from the first site you see it on. Do your research by also searching for it on other sites. Price differences can be substantial on different sites, especially if you factor in shipping costs.
3. DO sign up for your favorite sites' subscription or newsletter emails. These sites will frequently send promotional discount codes to those signed up to their emails (sometimes even before announcing it on their sites!). And many will send a welcoming discount code when you first sign up or when it's your birthday month.
4. DON'T just fill up your shopping basket and proceed to checkout like some kind of animal. Always search for a discount, promotional or coupon code first. You can search in Google by typing, for example "ASOS coupon code" and search the links that pop up. They won't always work, but I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a 15% off or 20% off code by doing this. When checking out, there will be a space for you to type in the coupon code and it will be applied to your total. (It might be time consuming, but it can make a huge difference!). You can also add a shopping browser extension like Honey in Google Chrome, which will automatically apply coupon codes when you check out on some sites.
5. DO follow your favorite sites' social media accounts. Discount codes and special deals are often announced on their social media channels first.
6. DON'T hesitate to ask friends or family living in other countries whether you could ship your purchase to their house if you're ordering something from a site in their country. Shipping costs will be considerably lower, or even free. Most of the time it will be much cheaper to have your friend or family member send it to you by regular mail (especially if they mark it as a gift and you don't have to pay import and duty taxes!).
7. DO buy together with friends to save on shipping costs. Tieneke and I will often buy items together to pay a once-off shipping fee.
8. DON'T get caught off-guard with import duties and taxes. Some online shopping sites will already include import duties and taxes in your total, but some won't. Remember that if you are getting an international order, you might have to pay the import duties and taxes on those items. Each country is different, and it also depends on the total of your purchase, which country it's coming from, which country it's going into, and what material or fabric the item is made out of.
9. DO your research on sizing before purchasing an item, by reading as many reviews about the specific item as possible. For this, Google is your friend! For example, search "Are Tory Burch flats true to size?" and I can promise you you will find the answer in the thousands of reviews and forum discussions on the internet. (This can also be time consuming, but personally I would rather make 100% sure than to have to return an international purchase.)
10. DON'T forget to read about their return policy. Each online shopping site will have a different policy, and if you're not sure about sizing just make sure that they do offer returns and who is responsible for the costs.
11. DO open a PayPal account. To protect your personal information and credit card details, you can sign up with PayPal and make online purchases through your PayPal account instead of giving them your account details. Most online shopping sites offer PayPal as a payment option, and it also makes the checkout process super easy and speedy. It's also much easier to settle transaction disputes and get refunds than when having to deal with your bank.
12. DON'T just buy from any online store. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you are not familiar with a site that you stumbled upon, ALWAYS Google it first. For example, type "Has anyone bought from xyz's website?" and you should be able to find multiple discussions about that site already on review sites and in forums. Avoid sites with no clear return policy and those selling counterfeit goods.
13. DO wait for holiday weekends before making a purchase, this is the most likely time for online shopping sites to offer promotional and discount codes. For example, Thanksgiving weekend in the States will have insane Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts.
We hope you find this list of dos and don'ts useful. If we left out any tips and tricks, please let us know in the comments! Also, don't forget to check out our list of The Absolute BEST Online Shopping Sites to put your new pro online shopping skills to the test!