Online Shopping: friend or foe?

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Who’s afraid of the boogie man, I mean who’s afraid of online shopping? A lot of people are. If you’re undecided you should read this.

You may find this hard to believe but in the present time there are still people from my generation afraid of online shopping. People that only resort to it in a desperate case – “My golden sandals are sold out in every store OMG,OMG, OMG (hyperventilation)”, and even then with extreme caution. So what’s making people afraid to take this step? Recently I talked to friends about this and there were two types of answers. Some of them were afraid of using their credit cards or they just didn’t own one and couldn’t bother finding other alternatives of payment, and others just couldn’t get the same pleasure from the shopping experience.

The first problem is not that hard to understand and also to overcome. We’re all aware that online shopping isn’t totally secure, you are giving away credit information and you’re paying for something before you lay your eyes on it and that represents multiple risks. After hearing about a case of an online purchase gone wrong (the company kept finding excuses for the item not being delivered) a police specialist gave me a great advise, like everything else in life, in the internet world you have to be suspicious of ” amazing deals”, like some genius one said – there are no free lunches. If the deal is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Second advise, read the conditions of payment and returns, you don’t want to buy something from a website that has a really complex returns policy. Most people don’t bother researching this and only find out what to do when they conclude that the shoes are a size too small and now they have to return it. If the website you choose to shop in has an easy returns policy then the process of returning something that didn’t fit or that you didn’t like becomes pain free. BTW, ASOS has an amazing return policy, I’ve had to do it once and  it was really easy.

Regarding the security of you bank account and the fact that you need a credit card well I have a solution for you. I don’t have a credit card and I’m still able to buy clothes, the process may take a few more steps because it requires intermediaries like PayPal or MBNET (for those of us in portugal). These companies not only protect your personal data but in some cases they represent extra steps that are actually a good way to prevent impulse purchasing. Try not leave your connection to your paypal account active, make sure you have to log in every time. A direct connection to your PayPal account can sometimes mean that you’ll order that item that you would leave behind in a second at the store if the line to pay was huge. It’s up to you to find the best solution for your shopping habits but take my advise, if you’re an impulse buyer, make sure you don’t need a simple click to order everything from the new collection, you’ll regret it.

Now it’s more difficult to argue about the second set of reasons my friends invoked to stay away from online shopping, I’ve become a fan of online shopping but it’s still my second stop, the first one is the store. I recognize that like most millennials I’m into instant gratification, I want to leave the store with the bag, I want to show everyone what I bought right away and I want to wear it to dinner that same day. Despite this, I find myself immersed in websites checking out new collections and special prices and most of the times my decision is made before I see the clothes on the rack so I can’t really say that I don’t get online shopping. So is online shopping a friend or a foe?

Online shopping, with all of its problems and limitations, can in fact make you a more conscious and smart shopper and this is one of my ultimate goals.
  1.  The better deal

Let’s see, online shopping is the quickest and most efficient way of making sure you have the better deal. If I need a new pair of black jeans I will browse through my favorite stores in a few minutes until I find the perfect ratio of coolness/price (the only criteria that trully matters). It’s the best way to compare prices, to find out if they stock the item you want and it’s also useful to see if you can find what you want in a particular store (ask any girl and she’ll tell you that 70% of the times she’ll log into a website to find out what they have in stores. Even if you end up buying what you want at the store the online shop was still essencial to complete the process.

Finding inspiration

In most websites clothes are always styled on a model in a imaginative way, they must have gigantic styling teams making sure that each item looks its best. In stores they use manequins to do this job and the truth is that most of the times best-sellers come from those looks styled on them. We need that help and they are glad to provide it, as long as you spend everything you own on the entire outfit. Online every item is styled and combined with othes pieces, there are suggestions of clothes you can also buy in the same style, you can tell how it wears righ away, at least on giant skinny models. This extra help is great and it can open your horizons to new ways of styling your clothes.

Exclusivity

For those of us living in a smaller country, we’re not always on the list of countries covered by most online shop’s but when we are and those brands don’t have physical stores you have an opportunity to own more exclusive items. The likelihood of someone showing up in the same dress as you at a party is very low, even more if the shipping costs are high.

Discovering brands

Again, with online shopping you can buy clothes that you wouldn’t normally be able to access unless you traveled to another country. It’s a great way to discover international brands and a better way to discover smaller national brands that are online exclusives. You can contribute to these upcoming brands reach new customers while you enjoy your exclusivity. It’s a win-win situation.

These are some of the things that I can take from the online shopping experience. It’s one of those things that you have to try by yourself, I just wanted to tell you that if you fall in love with something online you really have nothing to fear. Brands and companies keep improving their websites and shopping policies so that the customer has a painless experience. Take advantage of the additional information you get online, use it to make you a smarter and more responsible shopper and don’t forget to have fun!

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