From The Straits Times    |

Photo: Unsplash

These days, online shopping seems to be a much easier option for the working woman. All you need is Internet access and a credit card, and the world is, as they say, your oyster. With retail therapy just at our fingertips, you would think you know everything there is to know about shopping online. Wrong.

Online shopping isn’t simply about finding a website and clicking “buy”. There are e-retailer verifications to contend with, so you don’t part with your money blindly.

There are also ways you can save more money — obviously these are not commonly publicised on the retailers’ website. Don’t fret! Here, we’ve shared some tricks on how to make your shopping smoother and more worthwhile.


1. Pick the right place to shop

Nothing is worse than paying for something that you’ll never receive. The downside to the Internet is that there are as many dubious sites out to scam you as there are legitimate websites.

Try to avoid purchasing items from sellers that you’re unsure of. Instead, go for established names like Net-a-Porter and Zalora for high and fast fashion respectively, or Sephora and Beauty Bay for beauty products.

If unique indie brands are your cup of tea, make sure you do your research first (Google’s your best friend) before taking the plunge. Try two of our favourites: Nalin Studios & Keur Paris.

Also, another important thing you should take note of is whether the website is SSL (secure sockets layer) encrypted — this can be located on the search bar on your browser when you’re on the e-commerce’s site. This way, you can prevent fraudulent cases and be assured that your information and credit details are safely protected.

Pssst, if you’re looking for designer goodies but are not willing to splash out too much, make a beeline for websites such as The Outnet, Barneys Warehouse and Saks Off 5th — they are online retailers that house designer products of past seasons at discounted rates.


2. Subscribe to their mailing list

This tip is not for everyone. If you don’t like receiving tons of emails, then subscribing to retailers’ mailing lists would greatly annoy you. But, this is also the best way to get the finest deals. Most retailers offer discounts or sales periodically, so those on their mailing list will be the first to know (ensuring that you’ll grab your preferred piece at a discounted rate before it sells out!).

Sometimes, subscribers get a higher discount than others due to loyalty, or other perks such as birthday discounts. If you haven’t visited in a long while, you might even get a “We’ve missed you!” discount code. Sounds like a bargain to us!


3. Avoid the spam

Here’s how you can maintain your sanity: Create an alternative email account just for retailers’ mailing lists. That way, you can keep the spam away from your regular email — which might contain important information — and easily view your deals at one glance too.


4. Know when to shop

We know there is never a “best time” to shop online — every moment seems to be the right time since the website is available 24-7. However, there may be times when you balk at making a purchase because you’re wondering if you should patiently wait for it to go on sale.

Here’s a tip: Products that are classic and evergreen are worth the splurge because they’ll never go on sale.

Think of bags that are key pieces to the maison, such as Chanel’s 2.55 and Saint Laurent’s Sac du Jour in black. For seasonal pieces, these are the ones that will probably go on sale, if they haven’t sell out by then.

Another tip: Mark these 2 special shopping events on your calendar — Black Friday (it falls on the 23rd of November this year) and Cyber Monday (26th of November). A mega shopping bonanza that originated from America, it has now spread globally, with most retailers jumping onto the bandwagon.

Take note of other online shopping festivals such as 9.9 (9th September), 11.11 (11th November) and 12.12 (12th December) as well — there are great deals and discounts to be gleaned from retailers such as Alibaba, Lazada and Shopee.


5. Read customer reviews

Don’t make your purchase impulsively. Reviews are a great source of information as they give you confidence that a particular e-commerce website is legit and reputable.

We highly recommend you to spend an extra 10 minutes browsing through the reviews, especially for sites such as Carousell or Amazon where they house individual sellers (some may not be as trustworthy as you think).

Make sure the number of reviews are substantial as well — you don’t want to splurge on a seller that has only 1 or 2 thumbs ups.

It pays to do a little more homework. Don’t catch yourself in a situation that resembles the Adidas Yeezy scam.


6. Be careful of sizing

Sizes may vary from brand to brand, depending on the country they originated from. For example, if you’re shopping at French brands such as Isabel Marant or A.P.C. and you’re a standard EUR 38 for shoes, make sure to go a size up (FR 39) as their cutting runs a size smaller.

Since most e-commerce websites (especially those that carry luxury labels) carry a plethora of fashion labels from all four corners of the world, they will be equipped with a sizing chart that allows you to do a comparison.


7. Be clear on the return policy

This is something we all wish to avoid. But, there are times when you just have to return a product — whether it is because there is some defect or you just didn’t get the right size. Make sure you check the retailers’ return and exchange policy to see if they allow this.

Also, do keep the tags on or leave the seals intact. Do not wear or wash the item either. Retailers will most likely not accept them back if you have done so.

At times, certain websites will not allow a full refund. Instead, they might offer an exchange in size, or give you website credits. Some might also require you to fork out the return fees from your own pocket, if you’re returning an item that’s not a result of manufacturing defects. Make sure you are okay with these terms before you add to cart.