Sunday, July 28

Buyer Beware: The Hidden Pitfalls of Online Shopping

I'm usually one to write advice columns informing readers about the latest trends, and teaching them how to style and incorporate these trends into their wardrobes.  Today, however, I am taking a slight departure from the norm in posting about the woes of online shopping.

Ahh online shopping: The inconvenient "convenience."  I've had a love/hate relationship with online shopping for some time.  I love the convenience of being able to satisfy my shopping craving 24/7, plus the selection of merchandise is usually greater on the internet than it is in stores.  For instance, several styles and sizes of clothes, shoes, and accessories that are sold online are not available in stores.  One of the biggest downsides to shopping on the internet, however, is that things rarely appear in person as they do online.  For example, either the color of the item as depicted online is deceiving or the photo doesn't do justice to the quality of the material.  Particularly, I have found that certain things look cheaply made in person, whereas I couldn't tell this about the item by looking at a photo alone.  As a result, more times than not I'm disappointed with my online purchase.   Fit is also an issue when things don't run true to size and I haven't tried the item on first in the store.  Although I try to use the buyer reviews as guidance when ordering, they aren't always helpful since everyone's opinions and body types are unique.  Long story short, when things don't fit or aren't what they appeared to be online I'm stuck going to the store to exchange or return the items, therein defeating the intended convenience of shopping from home.

Now, perhaps I create unneccessary stress for myself by going to the store to make my returns as opposed to mailing them back to the shipper.  But, I prefer to do this whenever possible to ensure that I receive my refund instantly as opposed to waiting one to two billing cycles for my return to be processed by the e-commerce retailer. (Basically, the method to my madness is that this enables me to have the credit back to my account ASAP, thereby freeing up my monies to do more shopping!)

The moral of my long rant is that if u are a shopaholic, like me, who buys things on a weekly (ok daily) basis online shopping is much more inconvenient than the good old fashion way of buying things in store, which gives you the instant gratification of being able to bring home and enjoy your purchases that same day.  There's nothing more disappointing to me than building up anticipation and expectations about an online purchase- that I must wait a week to receive!- only to be dissatisfied with my order. So buyer beware... online shopping is only convenient when you've seen the item in person and already tried it on to determine it's the right fit and exactly what you're looking for!

Hope I didn't discourage anyone too much.  If shopping online has been a pleasant experience for you more times than not (which probably means you're not as frequent of a shopper as I am and therefore are not bothered by the inconveniences associated with returns), then more power to you.  Happy shopping (online or otherwise)!

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