What to look out for when online shopping to avoid wasting money

Bought a dress online but it's too tight? Ordered a bracelet but it doesn't fit well? These tips from Josephine K Chow, country head of Shopback Singapore, will make you a more savvy shopper, and clue you in on how to snag the best deals.

Online shopping tips illo

Illustration: Nataliya Yakovleva,

Cross-check the model’s measurements

“Clothes from different brands are cut differently, so make it a habit to check the model’s measurements and fit with the item you intend to buy. Sites like Asos and Zalora come with catwalk videos, which give a pretty good gauge of the fit.” 

Trawl through customer reviews to make sure they are authentic

“It’s really important to go through customer reviews to make sure they are real – some sellers ‘fake’ good reviews by getting their own staff to ‘purchase’, then write a review.” 

Manage your expectations

“What you see may not necessarily be what you get.This is why you should check the ratings of the store, especially if you are buying from marketplaces like Taobao or Lazada.” 

Take note of the terms and conditions

“Keep an eye out for things like additional shipping fees,‘service fees’, shipping duration and return policies. Some stores have inflexible shipping policies where they don’t do a second delivery. If there’s no one to receive the parcel the first time, they will place it at a post office.You’ll then have to do a self-collection, which defeats the purpose of online shopping in the first place: convenience.” 

Only buy big ticket items like electronics from a trusted source.

“Sometimes, electronics are sold at super cheap prices. Find out the reasons for the massive discount, and make sure the items you buy come with a warranty.” 

• Sign up for your favourite online sites’ newsletters so you get notified whenever there are sales. 

• Promotions may be pegged to your payment method, so search for the best ones before deciding on a mode of payment. 

• Compare prices offered by multiple platforms – this is especially applicable to travel products.
• Be familiar with seasonal sale periods. For example, for clothes, look out for end-of- season sales (usually at the end of each quarter or month); for travel, discounts are usually tied in with offline sale events like travel fairs.