How to Shop Online for Fashion and Accessories

Apparel shopping has overtaken electronics as the consumer darling of cyberspace, and for good reason. It has never been easier shop online with great photos and easy-to-navigate pages never mind the convenience, saving money, unlimited selection, and ability to comparison shop without leaving your desk. However, buying clothes (and accessories) online can be tricky. You can’t feel the fabric or try it on, but there are plenty of ways to do it right without regretting it. Here are 10 tips to boost your cyber-shopping experience.


1. Know your measurements

Since you cannot try on clothes before you buy them when shopping online, accurate measurements are essential. Dig out your tape measure and scribble down your chest/bust, waist, hips, arm length and inseam. You can measure a piece of clothing that fits you perfectly and use to compare. Since there are unfortunately no universal sizing requirements between manufacturers across the board and general online guidelines in fashion sizing is fuzzy at best, research information regarding inches or centimeters, which make better comparisons than ‘small’ or ‘large.’ There are also many articles online with tips and detailed charts on how to measure your size exactly.

2. Make a list of what you need

If you decide to shop for multiple items of clothing at once, write down everything you need before you get started. This will help you stay on track and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by choices. Depending on where you’re located, many flock to Amazon or Walmart, because the price meets the demand. If in Europe or the Middle East, the Amazon alternative is Jumia. In Russia, it’s completely different than Middle Eastern or South American countries, and so forth. So really narrow your search down after finding which sites will offer your clothing based off location.


3. Avoid distractions

Only look at the clothes you know you need. It also helps to set a budget. If you only intend to buy a new dress, avoid looking at tops and accessories. Otherwise, you risk wasting time looking at clothes you don’t need, and may end up buying something extra and beyond your budget.


4. Shop around

The true beauty of online shopping is convenience. Within minutes, you can check out the selection at multiple stores and compare prices and selections offered by several reputable online stores. You may discover that two stores offer similar garments for vastly different prices. It is also important to do research on where to purchase — search for lists of the top, most trustworthy, and frequently used online stores that offer well-known brands.


Having said that, know how to spot a counterfeit. When buying brand name items, be aware of the fact that many sellers are out to scam you. Know the peculiarities of a particular brand and look for detailed pictures that can be used to identify a garment as real or fake.


5. Shop wholesale

Many wholesale sellers require you to be a reseller to make a purchase, but not all do.

·         True wholesale requires you to purchase large quantities at one time, making it a good option for basic necessities like underwear and socks.

·         Retail wholesalers purchase large quantities of clothing at wholesale prices, then sell those garments with very little mark-up. As a result, clothing bought from a retail wholesaler is often much cheaper than that purchased from a standard retailer.


6. Research the seller or site’s reputation
Check for customer reviews of the retailer you are buying from and make sure you are satisfied with what you find. Are people generally happy with what they received and when they received it? Also, look for listings with lots of information, high-quality photos and detailed descriptions with dimensions and sizing information. Refer to size charts.

If you still have questions not addressed by the FAQs area, contact customer service or the individual seller. Your questions should be answered promptly. If you have a favorite Web retailer, sign up to be notified about upcoming sales via e-mail. Or even better, many retailers are joining social media sites like Facebook that offer special discounts and promotions to their fans. It doesn’t cost a cent!


7. Do not give out personal information

Your name and address are necessary, but your Social Security number and bank account are not! If you feel skeptical about whether or not a seller is asking for unnecessary personal information, err on the side of safety.


Also, shop on encrypted websites only. These start with “https://” and are secured, and many internet browsers also display a closed padlock to indicate encrypted security. These security measures are not necessary while viewing products, but you should avoid websites that have you pay on unsecured pages.


8. Understand shipping charges

Buy several items at the same time to avoid paying individual shipping charges. Or better yet, look for retailers that offer free shipping. Shipping costs and additional check-out fees can dramatically increase the price of your purchase, especially if you end up buying from a seller in a foreign country. You should also make these costs a factor when you compare prices at various stores.

9. Research the return and exchange policy

Try on your clothes as soon as they arrive. Many online stores accept returns, but only within a limited time frame. By researching the return/exchange policy you’ll also better understand what you are getting into and if their policy has a satisfaction guarantee or if your purchase is a final sale. Do not remove any tags or stickers, since doing so may hinder your ability to return the item if it does not fit. Also, keep the original packaging intact even if you’re dying to rip it open in anticipation.


10. Computer monitors vary

This requires some flexibility on your part. Although monitors have advanced to display millions of colors, the clothing you see may vary slightly in color than the actual item. Likewise, consider that fabrics fluctuate in color from one dye lot to the next. This is true even with brick and mortar retail stores. If you’re still not sure, contact the seller to find out if “red” they mean a “wine red” or “tomato red.”


Online shopping can save you time, money, and the hassle of a trip to the mall, finding parking and waiting in line. However, reckless online shopping can cause you problems, not to mention that adorable bikini arriving three sizes too small. When you buy clothes online, make sure you buy what you need in the correct sizes. Shop around to find the best prices, and keep your guard up to avoid scams and disreputable sellers!

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