I love shopping, but I hate shops. The endless slow-moving crowds. Never being able to find what you need. The soul-destroying queues. I could go on. Fortunately, I don’t have to, because online shopping has been my saviour.
The thing is, I have a lot of friends that also hate traipsing around town, but whenever I suggest going online they say they don’t really “get it”, or are hesitant to try. It’s not like they secretly enjoy rifling through sale racks or parading around with a million bags, Pretty Woman style, they are mostly just nervous to try something new and are worried about what might happen if it “goes wrong”.
So, with the holiday season virtually upon us – and gift shopping therefore inevitably imminent – I thought I would have one last attempt at saving everyone some blood, sweat and tears by converting them to the only way of life. With absolutely no shame whatsoever, here are the eight reasons why online shopping is a gift in itself.
Unless you live near a big city, your local high-street shops are unlikely to stock the full product range as they simply don’t have the room. All the best stuff usually gets sent to the locations with more traffic, meaning that the outlets in small towns usually only have generic items and might be missing entire departments. When you’re shopping online, you usually get to see EVERYTHING a store is selling, usually including some online exclusives.
Are you only looking for one particular thing? Instead of raking through jumbled rails, cut to the chase by typing it into the search box. If you have a specific product name or number then it should pull up exactly what you need, but even generic terms will whittle down the selection so you can see your options. Not getting good results for “leopard print skirt”? No problem. Instead of traipsing back to the first shop where you saw one you liked, you can just flick over to that other browser tab.
Shop in comfort
The logistics of getting ready to go out, then making your way into town and back are sometimes the most stressful part. Eliminate this hassle altogether by not even moving from your sofa.
Some of my friends say that they can’t wait around all day for deliveries – any why should they? Most places now offer a whole bunch of delivery options so that you don’t have to stay home for a parcel (you can read a very detailed post about all the options here).
Here are some of the ways I’ve had stuff sent to me: home, work, boyfriend’s work, left in my porch, left with a neighbour, taken to a depo, delivered to my local store, taken to a 24-hour corner shop near where I live and left in a secure deposit box at the train station.
Depending on what you’re willing to pay, stuff can be with you within hours of clicking ‘buy’… or you can specify a future date that would be most convenient. You can even get gifts wrapped and sent straight to the recipient with a personal message.
Avoiding changing rooms
Buying clothes is fun. Queueing up to try them on in hot, tiny changing cubicles that have crap lighting and weird mirrors is hell. Particularly when I wasn’t expecting to be trying on clothes and have worn the wrong bra, no make-up and ate a massive bowl of pasta for lunch, making me look six-months pregnant with a bloat baby.
By getting stuff to try on at home, there’s no urgency. I can try it on as soon as I get it, or I can wait until I’m in the mood. All the right underwear is available, and I can try things on with the other clothes and accessories I would actually choose to wear them with.
I know that, in theory, there are lots of coupons, vouchers and loyalty schemes that help you save money on the high street… I just never remember to bring them with me!
With online shopping, there are loads of ways to save money (read a whole list here). Email coupons come through all the time and big retailers have frequent flash sales and seasonal discounts. On top of that, I install browser extensions like Honey and Shoptagr, which alert me to discounts I might not be aware of and tell me when items I have my eye on get discounted.
Returns are easy
Returning items seems to be the main concern for people that aren’t familiar with online shopping – usually because they’re worried that it’s difficult or expensive. This is hardly ever the case, particularly with larger retailers, where you typically have three options:
- Take the parcel into a local store branch (with the receipt that comes in the package)
- Tape the packaging back up and drop it off at the post office
- See if the company uses CollectPlus or a similar service
A lot of companies include a free returns slip when they send your stuff out, so you don’t even need to pay anything. Plus, you get the same window for returns or exchanges as you would in-store.
Never buy packing materials again
Although ecommerce sites get a lot of flack for over-zealous packaging, at this time of year it’s really convenient. Around October, I start saving all the delivery boxes and pretty/practical packaging that I don’t return so I can use them for gifts over Christmas. Reusing is the way forward!