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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.