Online Shopping: How to Find Exactly What You're Looking For

7 years ago

I brag a lot about my ability to track down virtually any product online. OK, brag might be a bit strong since I seldom talk about this subject. But I’m quietly proud of this shopping skill, and thought I’d share some of my techniques to see if they’re universally employed or Sal-centric.

 

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Here’s where I look when I’m looking for something online:

Google Shopping: ANYTIME you want to purchase something, check Google shopping first. If it’s a specific, named item – like a pair of Dolce Vita Pela sandals – this is especially wise, as even related retailers may be offering different prices for the same item. If you’re looking for a category of item, like paperbag-waist pants, also search. The shopping tool is limited, but will still introduce a few vendors into the mix that you’d never have thought of on your own.

eBay: This could potentially be a post unto itself, but here’s the short and sweet: If you missed out on an item when it was being sold retail, it is likely to be somewhere on eBay. If you’re looking for something super trendy or runway reminiscent – like wood wedge sandals or leather shorts – eBay will sell you vintage and used for pennies on the dollar. Check vendor feedback and don’t go with anyone less than 100% if you’re super skittish (I go as low as 97% myself).

Amazon: I remember when Amazon sold books, and books only. I’ve bought green tea, cosmetics, and cheese curds (for my gran) from them. And they often have amazing deals on clothing, shoes, and accessories. Check Amazon for any and everything.

Etsy: I have nearly endless patience when I’m questing for something, and will pore over 65 pages of search results. Not everyone has that kind of stamina. But Etsy’s vintage offerings are amazing, handmade goods are often reasonably priced, and accessories are unbearably fun. If you don’t see what you want but think someone could make it, try Alchemy.

For those who are skittish about shopping online, here are some general tips:

  • Know thy measurements: NEVER trust a photo for fit, and don’t buy from a site that doesn’t give you specific garment measurements unless you know the brand. Even comparing your personal dimensions to those listed online can fail, especially when vendors put one big chart up for ALL garments, but better to be as informed and accurate as you can be.
  • Check the return policy: If you can’t send it back, is it really worth the risk?
  • Check the shipping rates: If you have to spend $15 to get it and another $15 to send it back if it looks like ass, is it really worth the risk?
  • Look for coupon codes: Put the vendor’s name and the word “coupon” into Google. You’ll get about 70 trillion sites offering you free shipping, 15% off, and all manner of bargains. Always check for coupons before purchasing.

How many of my online shopping haunts do you haunt? Any other general, looking-for-a-red-brimmed-wool-hat-with-teal-trim, find-anything type sites that you use? I know there are alternatives to eBay (like Bonanzle) and Etsy (like Supermarket -- anyone a fan? Do you always check return policies and shipping before clicking “buy”?

Sally McGraw blogs at Already Pretty, where this post originally appeared.

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