Anyone who knows me knows that I love shopping. I shop when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and when I’m bored. A few years ago I finally got my own bank account and my own job, signed myself up for Paypal, and discovered this amazing world of online shopping. Back then, Australians were fairly restricted to our limited array of brands and variety and those that bought online bore the painful cost of international shipping. Thankfully, many international brands have now entered our market and we have welcomed them in with open spendy arms.
I generally have a few go-to online shops that I visit whenever I get the urge to look for something new or “window shop”. My top three favourite online stores are: ASOS, The Iconic, and Myer. When I am looking for specific items, I also hop on to Princess Polly, City Beach, and SurfStitch.
When assessing whether or not I like a store or would be willing to making an order, I look for a few key things.
I like to see that there is a wide range of styles/items/brands for me to browse through. Particularly as an avid shopper, this indicates to me that stock turnover is pretty quick so I can expect something I save to my favourites list or wishlist to go on sale within the next few weeks, and I can expect new items to come in every week. I’ve also found that it can be less disappointing to come across something that is out of stock in my size, as there is a chance that they may stock a similar item with my size available. In addition, I like having choices when I’m looking for a specific item. For example, if I am looking for a black longline blazer, I know that I won’t be limited to browsing between only one or two options. Of course, you could always look somewhere else but it saves you the effort of hunting down every option.
In my first few years of shopping experience and trying to build up my wardrobe away from years of hand-me-downs and out-of-date clothing, I would shop for quantity over quality. I’d buy heaps of cheap trend items that I’ve now ended up giving away or selling. It was very hard for me to understand how to create a balance in my wardrobe between good quality pieces I could keep for years, and more short-term items that were in fashion for that season. Understandably, my annual income consisting of Chinese New Year money until I was 18 meant that I couldn’t see the value or justification in spending a bit extra on a good quality item I loved vs. spending that same amount of money on multiple $5 sale pieces. Now that I have been working for a few years and experienced the struggle and guilt in trying to get rid of so many outdated clothes and accessories, I pay more attention to the label information about the materials used and read other people’s reviews to see their comments on the quality of items. It has made me more weary about what I chose to spend money on.
Oooh this is so important! It’s simple, really. If it’s overpriced and doesn’t deliver value, I’m not buying it. No matter how pretty it is! I never buy full priced. Instead, I look for whether or not the website offers coupon codes for students through Unidays or Student Edge (usually this is excludes sale items), and if the store generally has frequent offers or sales. I tend to stay away from online stores with a very limited sale section that looks like only the very unwanted stock have been included. The best stores offer extra discounts on top of already reduced sale items 😉
Free Shipping Option
Most stores nowadays will offer a free shipping option for a certain minimum spend. To me, this is extremely value-adding as no one wants to pay for postage costs to receive items they have already spent money on. The lower the minimum spend, the better. ASOS offers free postage to Australia for any orders $40+, and The Iconic offers free postage for orders $50+. Around the $50 minimum order mark is where I feel is rather achievable to reach without feeling too guilty about the total cost of my order. Other sites that require spending $75 or more such as City Beach make me feel a bit more hesitant, unless the return policy is comforting enough.
There are risks associated with shopping online as you can’t actually assess each piece yourself. Getting the wrong size, colour, or ordering something that doesn’t actually suit you are all concerns that can be addressed with a good return policy. The first thing I look for when the possibility arises that I may actually order something, is whether or not I am allowed to make a return and whether sale items can be returned, as many stores stipulate that only items bought for full price will be accepted. The second thing I look for is if free returns are offered. That is, if the postage cost to you to return the item is fully covered by the store. Lastly, is how many days you have before you can no longer return your items. Most stores I’ve found are pretty generous with the days they provide you with to make up your mind.
The five aforementioned qualities are what I look out for when I come across a new online store. Everyone has their own strategy for how they shop. Some people like to just browse the ‘Newly Added’ section, others know what they want and go straight to their section, and some people prefer not to look outside the ‘Sale’ area. I have a little system I like to go through when I’m in a shopping mood, which I feel lets me get the most out of any allocated time I have. Most importantly, when there is time pressure there during a big 24 hour sale, I know what I have to do!
MY SHOPPING PROCESS
- If I’ve just discovered the store, I’ll look to see if they offer a sign-up discount, a student discount, or if there is a current promotion on.
- If I’m a returning customer, I’ll usually head straight to my wishlist or favourites list to check if any of my saved items have been reduced.
- Go straight to the sale section! To avoid disappointment and improve shopping efficiency, I filter the sizes and specific categories I am looking for.
- Sort prices from low to high if I’m looking for some cheap steals, or high to low if I’m feeling a bit more spendy and on the hunt for a good bargain.
- Browse the full-priced section sorting prices from low to high keeping in mind any discount codes I have available for use.
- Perform an intense manual search for specific items I’m trying to hunt down or for specific brands I’m interested in.
- Look up any images of the items I’ve added to my cart to see how it looks on others.
- Check for better deals for the same items on other websites and compare!
- Apply discount to cart and if applicable, check out through the Qantas online mall.
I’ll be writing up another blog post soon about getting discounts and how you can get the most out of your shopping! There are various ways you can receive benefits for some of the shopping you already do. A lot of people whom I’ve talked to weren’t aware that all this time they could have been getting something back from their usual spending. I feel that it could be helpful to a lot of shoppers out there if I were to write about this, so stay tuned 🙂