8 Mistakes You Make When You’re Online Shopping

One of my first online shopping purchases was this “Reading Is Sexy” shirt when I was about 15-years-old (~so edgy~). When I was 17, I bought a pair of red platform heels from the ’70s on eBay and managed not to die while clomp clomp clomping around campus. I was obsessed with Etsy in college, and now I check ASOS far more regularly than my bank account will allow. I’ve bought some good stuff I still wear today, bad stuff that I’ve never used, and everything in-between, so I feel like a bit of an online shopping veteran. Of course, online shopping has become so ubiquitous that I–and everyone else on the planet–uses it to buy things we can absolutely cop IRL…but prefer not to, either because there’s a better deal on Amazon or we’re lazy af.

But obviously, as convenient as online shopping is, there’s a major downside: You can’t try anything on. You can’t feel the fabric of that dress, or know if those shoes will be too tight on your feet, or if that concealer color is a good match. It’s really easy to get burned, and we all know that returning items is such a pain in the ass, so we want to get it right the first time. But you can’t do that with a very high success rate if you keep making these eight mistakes. From not reading the reviews to being duped into buying a rare item that ain’t rare at all, read on for some tips that’ll turn you into an online shopping champ.

Buying Something You Only Kind Of Like Just Because It's On Sale

This can be so tempting IRL, but you’re not safe when you’re online shopping either. Like, don’t buy that top that you’re not that crazy about just because it’s on sale and will score you free shipping since it’ll put you over the $50 threshold. Like, you’ll probably save more money by dealing with the shipping cost instead of buying an item that’ll probably gather dust in your closet just to score free shipping. Here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Would you have wanted such and such item if it wasn’t on sale? If the answer is no, keep it movin’.


Not Checking The Size Chart

Sizes change from store to store, brand to brand. One site’s size large can be an 8-10, another’s can be a 10-12. More importantly, you should know what your measurements are so that you know exactly what size would be best for you. When you have some free time, measure the inches around your chest, waist, and hips and know your inseam (the length between your crotch and ankle).

American Apparel

Not Zooming In

This might seem like doing the most, but I swear it’s valuable. You might not be able to feel the item in your hands, but you can get a better idea of what it’ll actually look like IRL if you take a second to zoom in. Zooming in on that dress can reveal a finish that you’re not into, or a pattern that would otherwise be hard to see from a quick glance, or a hem that isn’t what you thought it would be, or weird ribbing that you’re not feelin’.


Not Reading Reviews

Reviews. Are. Golden. They’re the only saving grace, the only thing that stands in the way between copping that dress or that pricey concealer, or closing the tab and moving on. You have to do more than just check out the average rating, however. Actually take the time to read what people are saying. An item might have a 3/5, but you might discover that a couple of reviewers gave the item a one star because they just didn’t think the shirt was their style…while the other reviews give the same item a 5 star rating and have positive things to say about the actual item. Meanwhile, an item might have awesome reviews but include some disclaimers that make you weary, like a skirt being too short on a tall reviewer, or the material was a little see through. Definitely do your research and actually see what people are saying before you spend any money.

Forever 21

Not Joining Perks Programs

Yes, it can be annoying when a store spams your inbox with emails about sales, new styles, sweepstakes, etc. But it’s actually worth it if you’re signed up with a member rewards program. For example, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters have member rewards programs that often give you an extra 10 percent off sales. So, that 20 percent off sale becomes a 30 percent off sale for you. ASOS has a premiere membership which, for $19 a year, gives you free two-day shipping with every purchase. If you’re into makeup or skincare, Sephora’s Beauty Insider can give you access to some pretty good sales every now and then, too. Plus, plenty of sites have student discount programs in which creating an account with a .edu email address will save you money. It's worth the spam if you’re getting discounts like this in return.


Getting Scammed On 'Vintage' Items That Claim To Be Rare

Story time: I once saw a Beavis and Butthead shirt on Etsy that was listed as vintage and cost around $40. The price was steep for a shirt, and I'm not sure if it was vintage or not, but I was super hesitant to cop it. "Is this really so rare that it should cost $40?" I wondered. The answer seemed to be no, since I did a quick eBay search and found the same top mass reproduced for a fraction of the cost. When it comes to vintage items—whether they’re actually vintage or not--definitely do some comparison pricing and see if you can get the exact same at a lower cost.


Not Checking Out Promo Codes

Promo codes are golden. Hell, even if a promo code just gets you 15 percent off or free shipping, take advantage of it. You can find out about promo codes if you’re on a site’s mailing list, but you can find plenty that you otherwise wouldn’t know about from sites like Retail Me Not. I’ve recently downloaded a Google Chrome extension called Honey, which does all of the promo code/sale searching for you!


Taking Everything At Face Value

You can’t believe everything you see, and that’s not limited to ads. For example, when you’re online shopping, the clothes that a model is wearing might look like it fits impeccably, but that might be because the pants or top is hemmed or lightly altered in some way. Yeah, that top isn’t going to fit quite like it did on the model because, well, we’re being mislead alllll the time. Even the coloring can be off depending on how the photo was edited, and the fabric could feel a lot different than it seems in the photo. One of the only things you can do is be prepared for a slight surprise and be ready to return an item if you need to. Here’s a secret I want to let you in on, by the way: If a site you’re buying something from is accompanied with a video, watch it. Watch the way the fabric moves, the coloring, the finish…this can make or break your decision about buying something.

American Apparel

Which of these mistakes have burned you in the past? Tell us in the comments!

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