My husband Benson almost entirely shops online for anything that’s not groceries–clothes, electronics, office supplies, home goods, toiletries, tools–you name it. He’s also very smart and efficient about it. Plus, he finds the best stuff–ask any of our friends. They trust his recommendations for almost any type of thing across the board!
I’ve learned a thing or two from Benson on clever practices when shopping online, how to make wise and informed decisions, how to find great stuff, and basically how to make online shopping as quick, painless, and convenient as possible.
While I purchase many things besides clothing online, today I’m sharing the best info that Benson and I have learned so that shopping for clothes online (and other things) can be easier and more convenient for you.
Below are pieces I painlessly purchased thanks to the tips below!
Of course none of us like paying costs for shipping or return shipping. I primarily shop at stores with free shipping AND free return shipping. Here are a list of stores with that, and the links below take you to each store’s Returns & Exchanges policies. (Except Amazon’s link, which will take you to read about Amazon Prime.)
- Nordstrom – One HUGE reason I love shopping at Nordstrom is because of their customer service. First, shipping and return shipping are ALWAYS FREE, with no minimum purchase necessary. Also, there’s not really any time period for which you need to return items. You could have purchased something 8 months ago and still return it. Lastly, their return policy is incredibly generous and lenient, with the trust that we will not abuse it. I have returned worn items because they broke within a couple of months or shrank in the wash–usually for items that I paid a lot more for like shoes or jeans and felt for how expensive the items were they shouldn’t be breaking so soon. I’ve returned items without tags, and they’ve been able to find record of my purchase in their system. Anyway, this is about free shipping, but I had to add all this in because Nordstrom is amazing like that!
- Amazon (with Prime) – Amazon has SO MANY apparel items, in addition to carrying basically everything else you could ever possibly need, haha! If you don’t have Prime, I’d totally urge you to get it. Not only is shipping for items free, but it’s also faster. SO FAST! Also, Prime Day is approaching (July 11th!), and anyone who has a Prime membership gets access to some of the most INSANE DEALS on all of those “everything else you could ever possibly need” items–kitchenware, electronics, shoes, athletic apparel, women’s apparel–everything. If you want to try Prime, you can actually do a FREE 30-day Prime trial! Read about it HERE and consider signing up for the free trial in light of Prime Day approaching!
- Old Navy – Free shipping here requires a minimum purchase of $50, but return shipping is now free at no minimum amount. I know many people scope the site to buy a shirt but don’t meet the minimum $50 requirement for free shipping and then fill out their order with more clothing for their kids, husbands, moms, and dogs. 😛 I ALWAYS fill out my order with multiple sizes (see below) because WHY NOT? Return shipping is free! If it still doesn’t meet requirements, then I will fill out the order with other things. However, often times it’s other items I wanted to try in multiple colors and sizes as well.
- Zappos – Very, very good customer service. I love using the online chat, but they are helpful by phone as well. Shipping and return shipping is always free and fairly quick, and you have a whole 365 days from purchase to return!
- Macy’s – This is similar to Old Navy, requiring a $49 minimum for free shipping, but return shipping is always free. Plus, if my memory is correct, you get 365 days to return!
- ModCloth – Also a $50 minimum for free shipping, and returns are free if you choose to be reimbursed with store credit. Being reimbursed with store credit is not ideal, unless you are already a huge fan of the store and know you will inevitably shop there again in the future. But, it’s better than nothing!
- Target – Also usually has a minimum to get free shipping, or it’s free with a REDcard, and in-store returns are fast and easy. <3!
- Mindy Mae’s Market – A boutique I recently discovered this year that is adorable! And yay free shipping!
- LOFT – Free shipping on orders over $125. Not the best, but better than no free shipping, and you can return in store.
With stores that have free shipping, I almost always get 2 sizes of everything. If I need a different size, I hate the hassle of waiting for my package to be returned until I can get the new size. I also don’t like running the risk of the item being sold out by the time I realize I need a different size. Buying multiples and knowing I can return things for free makes shopping online so much more enjoyable and less stressful.
If a store offers free shipping on exchanges, then I will not buy multiple sizes–unless I *really* want the item and am worried it’ll sell out.
With shopping online, there are so many unknowns. I always, always, always take the time to scan reviews. If there aren’t reviews, I feel way less comfortable buying unless I’ve already had a lot of experience with the brand and its products. But even then, I want to know as much as I can about the piece. Here’s what I do:
- Look for 4+ stars. If it’s got 3.5 or less, I’ll quickly scan the bad reviews to figure out why most people gave it poorer reviews and see if it’s something that’s a problem for me. Sometimes people give the item a lower rating for things that have nothing to do with the garment itself, like slow shipping or the item arriving poorly packaged. That doesn’t mean the product itself is bad. Sometimes concerns are about the product, and scanning quickly helps me know that I should dismiss it and not spend anymore time looking at the item.
- Sort “Most Helpful” and read those first. Sometimes items have hundreds or thousands of reviews, so sorting by “most helpful” reviews saves a ton of time. I’ll get all the info I need within the first 3-5 reviews that way.
- Scan for numbers for info regarding sizing. Sometimes these aren’t in the top 5 “most helpful” reviews, so if I need more info about sizing I’ll scan for numbers and look for people similar to my measurements to see what they say about fit and sizing. This has worked REALLY well for me getting the size I need to the first time.
- Scan the bad reviews – even with 4+ star items. I just look at a handful of the lowest reviews. Again, it’s to see if people are complaining about things like shipping or if they’re actually complaining about quality. If several people are saying the same thing about quality, I will proceed with caution and read more reviews to figure out what’s really going on, even on a 4+ star item.
Not all sites have this, but many have at least some info on garment length or bust size and measurements. For jeans, I always try to find info on inseam so that I’ll know if it’ll be long or short enough for me, and the leg opening so I’ll know if the jeans will be skinny enough at the ankles or if shorts will go around my thighs. I compare these measurements to garments in my closet that fit me well to determine if the item I’m shopping online for will work for me.
For the olive green dress above (HERE) I scanned measurements for 5+ different similar dresses and I had peace of mind ordering this one because I knew it was long enough for me while the others were 4″ shorter than I wanted. This turned out perfectly!
I hope that helps make online shopping a little easier for some of you! Which of these do you already do, and which will you start doing more of? What are your best tips for shopping online?
Hope you have a FANTASTIC July 4th weekend!