I truly believe that online shopping was invented for mums. Every night is late night shopping and no one judges if you are wearing your daggy best while shopping from the comfort of your couch. You can avoid the queues, avoid having to run out of the shop after your kids or going home exasperated when nothing fits or the toddler has completely lost it.

But not every online shopping experience is created equally. Follow these tips for how to shop online to avoid the bad experiences and the heartache that comes with them. So maybe you won’t get it right every time, we are all allowed to make mistakes after all, but you will certainly be on the way to online shopping mastermind.

Know your current wardrobe

Knowing what you already have in your wardrobe is always a good thing when shopping as it means you shop smart and buy only what you need. But when shopping online, the knowledge you need is things like fabric and styles. The difficulty with online shopping is that you can’t try things on so knowing what fabrics you like to wear and what styles suit you will help you potentially avoid a lot of return shipping expense and wasted time. The good thing about online shopping is that if you aren’t sure you can get up from the couch and check!

Check the policies

Before you hit the “buy” button, check the policies such as shipping and returns. Some stores will have very generous returns policies while others will be much stricter. Likewise, if you need an item before a certain date, the store policies will let you know if this is even possible. Stores that make product to order, like many smaller handmade businesses, will have longer turnaround times. If you aren’t sure, contact the store owner in the first instance.

Set a budget

Adding to cart is like a drug. Once you start you just can’t stop and before you know it you are about to spend your entire Christmas budget on a new wardrobe. Oopsie. I always like to set myself a budget (including shipping fees) when I’m about to head on an online shopping spree or things get messy. When you go to checkout consider how big a chunk of your budget you are spending and what else you want to buy.

Look around

The beauty of online shopping is that with just a few clicks of the mouse you can price check across multiple stores. If you don’t need an item urgently, sign up to the store newsletter as they may have a sale coming up. Or you can join my Savvy Mama Shoppers Facebook group to stay in the loop with sales happening around the traps online.

Shop safely

A few years back I purchased a shirt online from the UK. Within a few days I had seen about $1,000 of fraud on my credit card and the shirt wasn’t even that great! PayPal is a safe way to shop so I always recommend using it when available. If PayPal isn’t an option and you still want to purchase from the store, check for a secure website by looking for the little lock in the address bar of your browser. Giving as little information as possible is also a good idea so you aren’t handing any potential fraudsters you details on a platter.

Give feedback

If you have a really great experience with a store – let them know! Leave feedback on their Facebook page or send them an email. It’s so nice for businesses to hear good stories and not just the bad. If you like something, tell them. It’s also good to pass on any constructive feedback as it can help improve the experience for the next person. As long as you do it nicely and with good intention, the feedback should be taken well.

Read the reviews

If you are going to shop at a store you haven’t heard of before, do a quick google search on them to see if you can find any reviews. One bad review doesn’t usually mean much but if you find more bad than good then perhaps rethink your purchase. That’s also why it’s good to leave good reviews as it can help others in their decision making.

What are your tips for shopping online? Had a particularly bad experience you can share?

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