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by Thea Wood, TheaWood.com
Online shopping tips are the best way I know of helping people get over their fear of a) making a poor purchasing decision when you can’t touch/feel the product and b) losing money to a vendor or a hacker.
Last year, I completed all of my shopping online in *one day* mainly using SheSpark’s Holiday Gift Guide and a few other boutique sites. (Exception: a golf club for my husband that he put on hold at Golf Smith.) I plan on using it again because most of the retailers are small businesses that do business with my company or support our cause. IOW, I trust them.
There’s more to it than just that, so I put together this list of 10 online shopping tips that I use and hope you find them helpful.
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Tip #1 Make A List the 2017 Way
SheSpark outlined a few tech solutions for making a useful gift list that helps prevent impulsive shopping. I recommend you read that story here.
Tip #2 Shop Trusted Sites
How do you know if it’s a trusted site? Major department stores, chains, and sites like Amazon.com are easy, but what if you want to buy from small businesses? I suggest buying from businesses recommended by a trusted source with links like the SheSpark gift guide or a niche magazine, or industry expert. Note: Sale items may have different return terms– differences should be stated on the product or checkout page.
Tip #3 Search Smart
Remember that list you made? When you have a gift idea, input the price, size, and any special consideration keyword to narrow down your options. This will save a LOT of browsing time. Note that search results usually show up in order of “Relevance” to your search terms. This can be great, but you may want to choose “low to high price” or another order the better fits your needs. Some of my favorite search engines are ShopStyle.com, Nordstrom.com, Etsy.com and Amazon.com.
Tip #4 Look for Ratings and Reviews
Other people’s experiences account for a lot. However, look at the bad reviews with a critical eye. Sometimes, a competitor will plant false reviews to undermine their competition. They usually have generic wording (“This product sucked”) rather than a specific experience, or a bizarre handle (e.g. “John4567918”) is the author. If you’re not sure, Google the product name and see if a trustworthy source recommends the product. Many small businesses don’t have ratings/reviews yet. Go with your gut.
Tip #5 Read the Return Policy Carefully
Before completing the purchase, look for the return policy and make sure it suits your needs. If a policy isn’t stated, email the vendor and ask them to send it to you.
Tip #6 Choosing Fashion? Embrace Accessories
Jewelry, handbags, scarves. These are all delicious options for the fashionista in your life and fit better than clothing. The trick is to choose something the gift recipient would like instead of you. Think about her current wardrobe/style and find items that complement it. You can go by most worn colors, or designer brand/theme, or current obsession– I’m currently gushing over my English bulldog, Spike. Unique or #OOAK (one of a kind) gifts are truly special, especially if there is a cultural or sentimental story associated with them. This is part of the joy of shopping artisans and small businesses.
Shop the 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for unique gift ideas from small businesses that support SheSpark and women over 40. Click here to get started!