Friday, July 17, 2020

A Few Bits O' Wisdom For The Online Shopper Newbies

Yesterday I promised that I would share some of my online shopping wisdom and why. I've been shopping online for over 10 years. For most of those years, I worked for online shopping companies. Now, more than ever, people are gravitating toward online shopping because of COVID-19 and new mandatory 'No Mask, No Service' policies that major retailers are adhering to.

Due to all of these changes and restrictions, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and irate customers causing scenes and getting violent, people are leary about in-store shopping.

I honestly don't blame the ones who are because personally, sustaining an injury because someone is having a violent temper over having to wear a mask is something we want to entirely avoid.

For those of you who have thought about doing some or all of your shopping online to avoid the stores and chaos, here are some tips and advice to get you started...

1. Let's get the most obvious inconveniences out of the way. First, when shopping online, you lose the ability to touch things, smell items, try on apparel and shoes, etc. In other words, you can't run your hand across a plush pillow, smell a candle or body spray to see if you like it, try on a dress to see if it fits, or press the "try me" button on the display of dancing Santas.

Second, cash and checks are not accepted. You'll need a form of payment like a bank card, credit card, store card, or gift card.

Last, you'll have to wait anywhere from a day to a week, or sometimes more, for your merchandise. The only exception is if you do store pick-up and it's currently available at your location. Most stores are offering "curbside pickup" where you can order, pay, head to the store, park, and someone will bring your order out to you.

2. Let's get the most obvious perks out of the way. First, you can shop when you want. It doesn't matter if it's 2 in the morning. Online stores do not close unless on the rare occasion they're doing site maintenance.

Second, the selection is much better because you're shopping inventory from all locations, not just a single location when you shop in-store.

Last, you can shop while sitting naked on your sofa, polishing off a bottle of wine, and inhaling a bag of Cheetos. You can't get away with that when shopping in-store.

3. Stick with what you are familiar with. That goes with just about everything. We all know that apparel and shoe sizes run differently from brand to brand. Now isn't the time to step out of the box too far. For example, Lisa and I buy most of our apparel and shoes at Kohls. We have our favorite brands and we know exactly what size to get. Sometimes I order skirts and shirts from another retailer, but again, I know what to order and what size.

The same holds true for fragrances whether it's home fragrance or body sprays. In another week or so,  or when I get a decent coupon, I'll be placing an order at Bath & Body Works. I know what fragrances I like and I have my favorites. I also know that I can step out of the box a bit with certain ones.

If you're looking to switch brands whether it's electronics or running sneakers and you want to take that chance, make sure to read the reviews. Those are a lifesaver.

4. Search for online coupons. There are quite a few online shopping deal and coupon sites out there and it's their job to find the best online deals and coupons. In addition, most times these shopping sites receive additional coupons because they're affiliated with certain retailers. For instance, Lane Bryant may be offering a $10 off $50 coupon on their site, but an online deal and coupon site may have received an affiliate Lane Bryant coupon for $20 off $50. Always check.

Another way to score some money-saving online coupons is to sign up for store emails. A lot of your favorite stores will send you an exclusive online coupon to use toward your next purchase. You can always unsubscribe if the emails become bothersome.

5. There will be an occasional mishap. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes you may receive the wrong size or color or the new camera may malfunction. Or, you may be disappointed with the make and quality or something arrives broken. But...

6. Companies want to keep their customers happy. As mentioned, I've been shopping online for over 10 years. Mishaps have happened on occasion. Most times, I've sent an email and everything was taken care of, and rectifying the situation was almost effortless.

When reporting a mishap, keep one thing in mind. It's all in how you present it. If you call, yelling and swearing at the customer service representative is not going to get you anywhere. It's not their fault.

If you send an email, the same holds true. An email in all caps while dropping numerous F-Bombs will not go well for you. When sending an email, I always begin with complimenting the company. That's always worked in my favor.

In addition, most companies go the extra mile to make it up to you. Again, they want to keep you happy and to remain their customer.

7. Color! Color! Color! Grab your phone and pull up a color. Now, search that same color on another phone and a laptop. More than likely, that color will appear slightly different on all 3 screens/monitors. To take it a step further, what's "coral" colored in one brand may not be the same shade in another brand. It's like scents. If you were to smell 5 different brands of vanilla-scented candles, they would not all smell the exact same.

8. Plan around the weather. I'm keeping it basic here with this one because not everyone's climate is the same. In my neck of the woods, we have 4 seasons...or we used to.

During the Summer months, don't order chocolate, anything that can melt (that includes candles), or items that can't sit out in the hot blazing sun for long periods of time.

During the Winter months, it's not a good idea to order anything made of glass, electronics, or other items that can't withstand being in the extreme cold for any length of time.

9. Delivery day. Most of your online retailers will send you updates. They'll let you know when your package has shipped, location statues, and when it's been delivered. If you live in an area that is prone to porch pirates or your USPS, UPS, or FedEx driver is known for leaving boxes on the front steps in the pouring rain, you should probably plan on being home when it's delivered. Or, at the very least, bake your neighbor some cookies and ask them to fetch your package for you.

10. Have fun! Online shopping is awesome. Over the past 10+ years, it has improved exponentially all the way around and there are tons more options. You can grocery shop online. You can order dinner kits and fresh produce. And, it's all delivered to your door.

I have not personally tried the dinner kits or produce or online grocery shopping. It's not something that we're interested in. However, I know a lot of people who have opted for all of the above and it's worked for them.

I hope this helps you a bit.

These are just some of the basics to get you started.

The world is a scary place right now for so many reasons and I can fully understand why many of you don't want to go out even if it's just to the grocery store.

Regardless if you're a hardcore in-store shopper or you're opting to shop online more often...

Stay safe.

Be kind.

Always be aware of your surroundings.

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