24 insider online shopping tips and hacks from the industry’s experts
The ultimate list of expert online shopping tips and hacks: Prepare to save an ABSOLUTE FORTUNE.
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Ever wondered how that sneaky friend snagged 50% off those new Ray-Bans? How that girl at work got two mascaras for the price of one? Or how people end up paying such varying amounts for the same flights? Well, wonder no more. We can help.
There is no one-price-fits-all. It’s all down to what you know. In this instance, we’ve used what we know AND who we know to create the ultimate shopper’s guide to buying online. We asked our shopping-savvy friends for their absolute “I can’t believe I’m actually sharing this with you” tip or trick for online shopping.
Whether it’s fashion, beauty, homewares, electronics or travel, do not buy anything else online until you have read this list. You are about to become a shopping hustler.
Always check the return policy. Buying online is awesome – if you get what you want. If for some reason you don’t, then you want to be able to return that sucker, and fast! So check first. Also, before you buy anything, shoot an email to the website in general and see if you get a response. You don’t want to be purchasing from sites that don’t bother to respond to their customers in a professional and polite fashion. There are a countless number of quality sites out there. There’s no need to ever hit the dodgy ones.”
-- Kelly Baker, Editor at Shop Til You Drop
Online stores (like Showpo) really do try their best to bridge the gap between real-life shopping and online shopping and put in heaps of features to help your shopping experience, so you should really use these to your advantage. For example, Showpo has a customer gallery bar on each product page to show you what the garment looks like on other customers of different shapes and sizes, and it also serves as a great guide! We also have a ‘Try Before You Buy Feature’, so you don't actually have to pay for anything until you try it on and decide to keep it!”
-- Jane Lu, CEO at Showpo
Sometimes the piece I'm hunting for has everything to do with silhouette and nothing to do with the brand, colour or price tag. In those instances (like when I was desperate for an off-the-shoulder, flared-sleeve top in September), I turn to Donde Fashion. This app lets you search using visual cues rather than keywords, which is perfect when you're dying over a new shape."
-- Jasmine Garnsworthy, Editor at StyleCaster
When I shop online, I often want to see what the clothing piece looks like on a real person rather than as a flat lay or on a mannequin. I will often search the web in hopes to find a blogger or influencer wearing the item. This is an easy way to help me see what the product looks like on different body shapes and sizes."
-- Stacey O’Keeffe, Editor-in-Chief at Fashion Weekly
I manage ShopStyle, so I’m obviously a little biased, but it really is a great tool to help you compile the wardrobe of your dreams. Each season, I create a wardrobe wish list – I sign into my account and simply hit the heart icon on the items I love. The beauty of ShopStyle’s design is that you can see all of the items laid out on one screen, which makes it easier to see whether you’re doubling up as well as what goes with what (think a shoppable Pinterest). I’m regularly inspired by what I see on ShopStyle, but if I’m seeking inspiration I visit the site map:stores section and click on a retailer like Net-a-Porter, Shopbop or ASOS and filter by ‘most popular’. To see what others are clicking on can often unearth some great finds to complement what I like already."
-- Laura Yeomans, Country Manager at ShopStyle
When shopping in USA for bigger items send stuff to a USA forwarder address, which gives you your own USA postal address, which then forwards it on for you. You save heaps. Some brands actually won't ship to AU.”
-- Sam Moore, Founder at Dead Studios
I tend to see if places have discounts for joining the newsletter. And I'll always check alternate websites for better options with postage and deliveries. It's always good to register your birthday too, because some sites give you birthday discounts.”
-- Sally Cordukes, Online & Customer Service Manager, Maurie & Eve
1) When an online store runs out of my size for a specific shoe I really like, I usually check the women's section of the store to see if they have exact same shoe. Unlike clothes, sometimes the only difference between the men's version and the women's version of that shoe tends to just be the sizing tag/standards.
2.) Most shoes have a product code designated to them. When I find out the product code of a particular shoe, I search the web using that and it would give me results for not only English-based online stores, but online stores in Japanese, Chinese, Italian, etc. This is particularly useful for region-exclusive shoes or shoes that sell out quickly.”
-- Myles Kalus, Founder at Street Style Australia
To avoid missing out on the piece you want during sales season, browse all your favourite sites and add items to your wishlist. That way, when you log into your account, you can quickly see if that piece has been reduced, and it stops you from buying items you don't really love just because they are on sale.”
-- Renata Gortan, Journalist at The Daily Telegraph
Before I purchase an item online, I always do an internet search to check if there are any current sales/coupons/discount codes for that particular retailer. Most of the time, there will be something you can use to score a discount or free gift!"
-- Lisa Hamilton, Founder at See Want Shop
1) Don’t underestimate how valuable customer reviews are. I love them as it gives you a real perspective on the piece you’re thinking of investing in – almost like a virtual friend!
2) Always make sure you look at what a garment is made from. It’s so hard sometimes because you can’t feel a fabric like an in-store purchase. If I see it is a fabric that will shrink, I won’t buy it, because I know I will only get one wear out of it!
3.) I always Google the brand and name of the product and the word ‘cheapest’ (e.g. “Cheapest Jeffrey Campbell Brogues”) to see if I can find cheaper prices before I commit to any other online store. There have been loads of times I have gotten something on sale from a competing place just because I did a little bit of research first!
-- Ally Carey, Blogger at Substance
When shopping online, I always use size filters straight off the bat to get rid of anything that won't ever come in my size. There's no point searching through a bunch of things that won't fit you.”
-- Bianca Mastroianni, Digital Content Manager at Cosmopolitan Australia
Try before you buy. As far as I’m concerned, the main downfall of online shopping is not being able to physically try the fit, style and fabric before purchasing. Use a site with flexible return T&Cs, order up big, try on at home and return anything that doesn’t compliment your individual shape or style.”
--Simon Hancock, Blogger at Mr Simon Hancock
The ASOS stylists are so super cool. I follow a bunch of them on Instagram to keep in the loop with the latest pieces about to launch online. It's an easy way to soak in some (sometimes) unusual style ideas and then you can shop it quick smart. (Using a finder.com.au coupon, obvs!)
--Doone Roisin, Fashion Editor at Finder
If I find something I love online, I will always do a quick Google search for the item using the brand and style name to see if I can spot it for less on another site. Often I find that if I haven't bought from a site before, I'm encouraged to sign up with a voucher to use on my first purchase. I’ll take that $20 discount and apply it straight to the item I’m looking for, thank you very much! Remember to take into account shipping charges to see which site offers best value for money."
-- Natalie D'Alessandro, Founder at Her Wardrobe
1.) GOOGLE THAT SH*T. Copy and paste the product description into Google to see if any store is selling it cheaper. Also handy for anything that's sold out.
2.) Promo codes (duh!) - it's the easiest way to save money.
3.) Be a shameless tease. Sign in to your account, add a bunch of stuff to your shopping basket, then leave it. Chances are the store will send you a voucher / promo code to entice you back.”
-- Alex Bruce-Smith, News Editor at PEDESTRIAN TV
I shop a lot with eBay. If you know how to use it, eBay is a fashion mecca. One of my favourite hacks is searching for the misspellings of brand names. You'd be surprised by how many people spell Alice McCall with one "c" or Zimmermann with one "n". No one really finds the items listed under incorrectly spelled brands, and you have no bidding competition. I got my favourite Shakuhachi silk tee for $30 because someone had spelled the brand with a "t".”
-- Mia Steiber, Writer at finder.com.au
Put aside your excitement for a few moments and double check everything before hitting that final 'order' button. In the past, I've not only bought the wrong sizes but also selected the wrong address. Always double check your order.”
-- Jessica Clark, Entertainment Producer at Yahoo7!
I follow all of my favourite brands and stores on Instagram and sometimes they post about a sale or when a popular item is restocked. I always check the Instagram pages first to see if there's a deal I need to know about before actually making an online purchase.”
-- Lauren Silvers, Founder at Glamazon
Make sure you get in fast. If you love it, buy it. If you don't immediately love it, leave it. But there's nothing worse than missing out. Also, if there is a big sale on, put it in your cart the night before and check out with the code fast when the sale starts!”
--Sarah Timmerman, Founder at Beginning Boutique
As I'm the biggest bargain hunter, I always LOVE shopping in the online sales. Missguided, ASOS and Boohoo have the best and biggest scores. I always write a list of specific pieces of trends I'm loving at the moment and then I search them online and see what catches my eye. I got a whole outfit for $60 last week”
-- Nicole Lucas, Stylist
For travel, Agoda is my go-to site for bookings. The members' rewards system lets you earn actual points (USD) to spend towards your next booking. Their prices are generally much cheaper than other well-known sites due to the sheer volume of bookings they generate”
-- Jody Phan, Online Editor at WHO magazine
When shopping with eBay, I always have at least (sometimes more) 3 browsers open with the exact item. I set up the product I’m bidding for at least 10 minutes before the auction time to be well-prepared. I’ll have each browser with the price I want to pay and increments of higher prices in each separate browser, and then right on the last second (and you have to wait to the very last second) I action each of them… wins me the bid every time.”
-- Innika Choo, Personal Stylist
Read reviews. When it comes to online shopping, you never know what you're going to get, so do your research and make sure it's what you really want. With return postage and time costs, getting it wrong can be a pain in the backside to fix.”
-- Stephanie Yip, Senior Writer at Finder
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