How To Shop For Fashion Online
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Catalog shopping for fashion has long been a staple of those unable, or unwilling, to undergo the rigors of trudging from store to store, choosing a garment, trying it on in really artificial circumstances and attempting to gauge whether it is the right thing for whatever occasion. Mail order is reputed to have begun with Benjamin Franklin who created a catalog for books that could be ordered from the page, delivered by whatever postal system existed back in the day (I bet it wasn’t next day delivery though) and this was in 1744!
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Fast-forward some two hundred and sixty eight years and the Internet plays exactly the same role but faster, slicker and with a much wider portfolio of products on offer. The fashion industry is no less savvy when it comes to operating across many routes to market. Whilst each retailer or manufacture is different in the approach they take to positioning their products ranging from ‘haut couture’ through to work-wear, that all have storefront and online offerings.
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Unlike many other categories of online offering, fashion is very personal and getting it wrong, from the customer’s perspective, means that it might well be a fashion ‘faux pas’ rather than a raging success. How then can you buy fashion off the virtual page and make it work for you?
Much depends on knowing your size, your attitude to trying on in the home, and the returns policy of the etailer concerned. What has become a ‘norm’ is for a customer to choose an item and order three sizes – one below, one on and one next size up, have the delivered to the home, try on the preferred size and then return the other two as ‘unsuitable’. The etailer might cry ‘foul’ but it happens and for as long as they or the customer is willing to pick up the tab for the return – its all fine and dandy.
That the virtual store works for fashion is undoubted – one respected research company, Forrester, put out a study that forecast clothing as being one of the three leading categories right thru to 2014.
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Are there any basic strategies for buying fashion on the web? Like al rules there are exceptions but it’s a simple process:
Know your size and what suits you – it all too easy to be tempted into something different that doesn’t fit or look good on you. Get yourself measured, preferably by a friend or colleague and write the sizes down. Don’t be tempted to downsize because you know you will be ‘dieting’. Just remember that he Internet can’t tell you if your ‘butt looks big in this!’
Have an idea in your head about what you are looking for – it is far better than browsing from item to item and getting ‘swamped’ by a huge and confusing diversity. If you know what you want then it can be easy scanning over things that you don’t. But if you haven’t a clue then browsing can give you some.
Be prepared to surf across a number of sites – or use a comparison site to help point you at the right garment at the right price. If you have a brand, description and catalog number then this makes the Internet search so much easier. Perhaps you got this from a magazine or even when shopping in the mall – particularly if you were able to scan the barcode with your smart-phone!
Many consumers have favorite stores or fashion brands and if that is your bag, then shopping for trusted and favored brands can be just as simple. These days the multiple street based outlets all carry product from many fashion brands and each has its own online version of the fashion department. If you know and trust the retail and apparel brands it makes shopping online as less fraught process.
In today’s economic environment going to the mall can be an expensive experience and the rising cost of gas and transport is driving (no pun intended there) shoppers online. But the cost of physical shopping can be offset by etail prices but don’t forget that most online stores charge for delivery unless you buy over a certain check out price. It is important to factor this into your price comparison, unless online shopping is more about convenience than price for you.
And while we talking about delivery charges – check the estore’s returns policy. Some don’t allow returns if the garment has been worn (tried on) or if the original packing isn’t there (including some hangers). Many, however, are happy to accept returns but may charge for the privilege and the customer may have to shell out for the cost of postage. There may also be time restrictions – please make sure you check and can comply with all the returns policies or you may be disappointed (www.peapodsavings.com).
Finally, it’s really important that you understand the need for security. If you are a regular user of a site then you will have an account set up there and know the ropes. But if its one that you are not familiar with take precautions – go to the contact us page and check for a landline and postal address and possibly check them out. Most of the well-known brands on the virtual street will have good security in place, but if the online store is for one you don’t know…well least said, soonest mended. Don’t give your password or checking account details to anyone unless you trust them 100%, take screenshots of any transactions and check your card online – am I being paranoid?
After all that, the Internet is like having all your favorite stores on the same street and being able to go from outlet to outlet looking at endless variations on a theme, checking out the same garment in as many color-ways as are available, testing prices and all at the click of a mouse, from the comfort of that favorite chair with a skinny latte by your side.
Happy shopping you online fashionistas!