February 9, 2011

Shopping Habits

    Right around the first week of the year, I was talking to my mom about my Christmas shopping.  I mentioned that her present to me was an order of clothes from L.L. Bean.  She then asked if i did a lot of my shopping online.  At first I thought not really, but really thinking about it and then reading Kat's post, I actually do a lot of my shopping online.  I do it for a number of reasons too: convenience, price, my home is my dressing room and quality.  It is significantly more convenient to order something online and have it arrive at my door than having to go to the mall as well as other non-mall stores to try things on and then come home with nothing at all.  Its also more convenient to try things on at home where I have the rest of my wardrobe to try things on with, its all about context.  Lastly, online deals tend to be way  better, for the most part, than in store deals.  As a result, I'm able to afford better quality of clothing at a lower price due to my online shopping. 
    Because I do so much of my shopping online, I've come up with a technique.  It's not fool proof or perfect, but it has brought me reasonable amounts of success.  So in the interest of sharing, here it is:

A-C's "Guide" to Online Shopping

1.The Click
Coldwater Creek Blazer
    If I'm looking at a store online its because I've been drawn in by a promotion or sale.  This is almost always the case as I rarely just browse stores for fun.  The sale has to be for a store I already like or have heard good things about too.  I'm not a random online shopper, so I stick to stores I know or know of.  To get these promotions I subscribe to emails like Ann Taylor, Talbots, Old Navy, Banana Republic, eShakti and the like.  Also, every now and again I check slickdeals.net.  A lot of great promotions get posted there such as my ruffle blazer.    

Talbots Dress
2. Skim
    My next step is to figure out what the sale is about and skim the items that are on sale.  Is there anything at all that I like?  If I look around and only find like one thing, I *might* click on it and look, but generally, unless there are several things that I like, I tend to move on.  I think its shopping my attrition, eventually I'll get lucky if there are a lot of things that catch my eye.  Reduce the sample size and my odds go way down. 

3. Click
    Next I open in new tabs everything that has caught my eye and is within roughly 20% of the amount of money I would feel comfortable spending.  If an item is more than that but absolutely amazing, I'll open a tab for it.  But its got to be spectacular.  I generally end up with at least 15-25 tabs open at first.  

4.  Weed
Talbots Skirt
    Now I weed through my tabs and actually look at all that I've clicked on.  How does that jacket look in a decently sized picture and not in a thumbnail?  Is that skirt or dress long enough or too long?  Is that blouse navy or black?  All of these things and more can be answered by looking at the larger image of items as opposed to the often tiny thumbnails provided at first.  I go through and eliminate anything that I don't find cute.  On the flip side, I make sure to keep things I find cute and attractive.

5.  Weed (again)
    This time I weed by price.  I have to decide, assuming the fit and color (to come in a bit) are right, am I willing to spend $X on that skirt, dress, blouse, jacket?  I look at each item individually and decide if that individual item is worth it.  I also look at the items collectively and compare which ones are more worth my money than others.  

Bravissimo Dress
6.  Walk Away
   This is one of the most important steps.  Most of the time I need to walk away from the screen, from all the wonderfully tempting deals and just chill, elsewhere.  Sometimes minimizing that particular screen is enough.  Sometimes I go in to my closet and imagine how the items I've been looking at fit in to my wardrobe.  Other times I just play with Bella.  The point is, I walk away from the computer to keep myself from impulse buying.  Sometimes its a couple of hours.  Other times its been days.  It depends on the sale, the store and the item.
7.  Fit and size
    One of the most important aspects of shopping, whether online or in person is the fit of a garment.  You can have the most beautiful dress in the world, but if its too small, short, big or just not cut to your figure, it will be a bad buy.  In order to aid me in figuring out fit and size, I check out the store's size charts.  I also check out reviews if the site has them.  In addition, lately I've been doing the customer representative chat thing.   I'll ask them specifically to help me choose a size and in return I get the actual dimensions of the item in whatever size(s) I think will fit me.  Because not everything will be available in the size I need or will flatter my shape, this step will also cut some of the items from my list.

Nine West Pumps
8. The Cart
    Now I finally add everything I've approved in terms of style, color, price and fit in to my cart.  And then I look at the total.  When I look at items individually, I tend to think, "wow, $35 for this blazer is amazing!"  But when you have 2 blazers, a sweater, a skirt and a dress, it all adds up.  By putting it all in the cart and looking at the total, its really hard to deceive yourself.  

9.  Weed (again!--3rd time's the charm)
   Looking at the total, how much do I *really* want to spend today?  Is everything in my cart a real steal or just filler?  This is the time where I get ruthless.  Its time to decide how much total I'm going to spend and what is really worth buying.  

eShakti Dress
10. Coupons
    Lastly, I do a google search for promotions.  Yes, I know I started out by going to a sale, but sometimes you get lucky and can add a 10% off coupon or a free shipping deal to a sale.  
11.  Buy!
   Now that I've exhausted myself and overthought every aspect of this purchase, its time to buy.  

    I can honestly say, that if I go through each of these steps, I am generally quite satisfied with the items that end up on my door step. Yea, paying for shipping sucks, but being able to weed through things and really think through a purchase rocks.  It virtually eliminates impulse buys and keeps my wallet (more) full.  Sometimes I do step away again before I buy or ask a friend what they think somewhere along the way.  But its not always true, so I didn't include that in my 11 steps.   So yea, this is my process when I shop online.   

Do you have a particular process for shopping online?  Are there certain things you *must* do before you buy?

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