Guide to Online Shopping, Part 2

Michael Kors rain boots, bought from NeimanMarcus.com
Michael Kors rain boots, bought from NeimanMarcus.com

Now that we know when the best time to shop is, let’s cover the how. In all honesty, shopping is an art, not a science. You don’t just simply choose something and say, “I want that.” There are many considerations such as: quality, fit, fabric, colour, price, availability, selection, location, etc. Online shopping removes the location—and to a lesser extent, the availability—restraint, but it also removes the tactility involved in shopping; you cannot feel the quality of the fabric, the stitching and other characteristics of the garment. In addition, the added risk of the garment not fitting is a concern for most people when shopping online. Within this context, you can reduce the uncertainty by doing the following:

  1. Know where to shop. This is equivalent to judging the service you receive. I have heard so many shopping (not just online) horror stories and they begin and end at the level of service provided to the customer. Don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra. Whether this is your first shopping experience at a particular store or not, you deserve to be serviced well. For example, Saks (yes, as in Saks Fifth Avenue) extended credit to me when I was in New York last year. I made monthly payments to them to pay off their store card (yes, I have a Saks Fifth Avenue store card. Yeah, I’m like that.). One month I happened to be late with my payment, so they called me. I paid a chunk of money on the card, but before I closed the deal I asked them to remove the late charges and guess what? They agreed because they’d rather keep my business than nickel and dime me for $60. That’s service. That’s what you should expect no matter where you shop. If the business you are spending your money at doesn’t recognize that, choose somewhere else, even if you have to pay a little more. It’s worth it. Think of it this way: how much do you want to deal with a level of service equivalent to that of Rogers? I know I don’t.
  2. Read the Reviews. These are gold. People will take to their keyboard when they absolutely love a product and when they hate it (and everything in-between). They will tell you if a shoe fits too large or too small; they will tell you where the inconsistencies lie between the real version of the product and that which is pictured on the website; and even how it smells. The average shopper has become pickier and savvier and provides insights you can’t gain from a description.
  3. Shipping. It should be free. Period. Even to Canada (unless you’re ordering from outside of North America). Most places will give you free shipping if you buy a certain amount.
  4. Try on Clothes Beforehand. This is where you hone in your craft to become more brand specific. Try on clothes at local retail outfits to get your size in a specific brand (all brands fit differently), then go online, find your best deal and voilà!

Again, I didn’t get to all that I wanted to say, so there may be a part three—actually, there will be a part three.