Our trip abroad was incredible. It was an eye opening, and often humbling adventure. In a few days, I’ll post a little recap of the highlights. I’m grateful for the experience but ready to get back to work and everyday life. I thought I’d have jet lag, but my clock doesn’t seem to be off too much. I’m just fatigued by the ambitious schedule we kept.
We arrived home just in time for two important events. First, the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere. I actually worry about what my life will be like when the series is over. Second, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It’s the only sale of the year that matters. Our content for the next three days is based on the sale, starting with today, where I’m sharing my best tips for shopping online. Check in tomorrow for my picks for the best Wear to Work items from the sale, and Thursday for Splurges and Replenishes.
My Best Tips for Shopping Online
Over the course of the last decade, since I started Kristel Closets, I’ve seen first hand the growth from shopping in brick and mortar stores to online. For the first five years, I spent the majority of my time physically in stores with clients. Today, our business has changed to focus on the online space, both with the blog and an e-commerce site of our own.
I genuinely dislike shopping. Sounds odd coming from someone with my career, but I actually think it’s why I am good at my job. I inherently understand why women would rather do anything else other than shopping at a store. I do almost all of my own shopping online, usually at night, when the kids are asleep. I put on my pajamas, pour myself a nice glass of wine, maybe have Real Housewives on in the background, and get to work. Over the years, I’ve found a few tips and trick that work to make sure it’s a smooth and productive process.
Lead time is my Achilles’ heel. I need to constantly remind myself that everything isn’t operating at Amazon Prime speed. When shopping online, give yourself up to two weeks from start to finish. Take into consideration shipping time, the cost of having your order expedited (if necessary), and any alterations you may need on the items you are keeping. This is especially important if you are shopping for a special occasion, event or trip.Like going to the market hungry, shopping online with no plan can be exhausting and expensive. Before you start shopping, take a peek in your closet to see what you need. A quick wardrobe edit can help you define your priorities. I like to keep a running list on my phone of new items I need to build my wardrobe or things I need to replace.
Every retailer and designer are different so base your purchases on your measurements rather than size. Follow this simple guide to take your measurements properly. When looking at the size chart provided by the retailer, size up to accommodate your largest measurement. Meaning, if you are in between sizes, and your bust measurements put you in the next size, go with that size and see if you can alter down. I find this to be one of the best benefits of shopping online. In stores, you don’t have access to the actual measurements but online, you can use them to make better choices.
The European labels available online are abundant and fantastic but their sizes are very different from what you are used to in the States. Double check before you purchase that you are buying the UK size that equals your US size.
Perhaps the best aspect of shopping online is access to customer reviews. Read them, and take them into consideration. Now, not all reviews are the same. Someone vaguely writing that they didn’t like a dress isn’t very helpful. But, a review that talks about quality and provide specific feedback on how a garment fits a particular body type can help you decide if an item will work for you. Personally, I find comments that focus on height incredibly helpful. For example, a dress in size six is going to hit me at 5’10 in a much different way than someone who is 5’6, even if our measurements are the same. Some retailers even let customers post photos of them wearing the item, which is so much more helpful than seeing the same piece on a supermodel. How many times have you hit, “Submit” on an online order, only to realize someone gave you a gift card for that very store. I’ve done it too many times, so now I keep a file on my desk of gift cards, and reward coupons that I receive over the course of the year. As you settle in for some shopping and pour yourself a glass of wine, make sure you pull your gift cards out and keep them next to your shopping list.
If you’re going to spend money, you may as well take advantage of the opportunities to get some of it back. I look at this a few ways. First, I’m all about leveraging points. If you use a Nordstrom card, you receive points that turn into “notes.” These notes are essentially Nordstrom dollars that you can use over the course of the year. I have clients that have hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of notes each year.
Aside from Nordstrom’s card, which I only use for in store purchases, I put every single purchase on my Amex. Not only does American Express have impeccable customer service, but depending on the card, you earn points. As a family, we use our points for almost exclusively for our vacations. If you use my version of math, it’s kinda like found money … kinda.
Finally, sites like Ebates and Honey offer coupon codes and cash back. The trick with these sites is to remember to use them. I have Ebates bookmarked on my computer. You don’t always get a promotion or savings, but I’ve received a few hundred dollars back, so it’s worth it.
Set yourself up for success before all those boxes start to arrive and create a file for your receipts and return labels This simple step will save you so much time when you inadvertently throw out a packing list that has return instructions and shipping labels attached.If you’re doing a big buy, designate a corner in your home to collect your boxes. I keep everything in an unused corner of my bedroom, adjacent to my closet. Keep your purchases organized and then create a pile for your returns. By keeping everything in one place, you won’t miss anything.
Often, orders are broken up and shipped separately. So you get drips and drabs come in over the course of a few days. If you are placing orders from different retailers, your shipping can take up to 10 days. I find that waiting to try everything on until you have all of your orders helps you make decisions quickly, keeps you organized and gives you a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t.
I set up my rolling rack in my bedroom, unpack my purchases, and then try my new items on with pieces in my closet. Being able to try things on with what you already own is a fantastic way to see how something will work in your real life. Once I’ve decided what I’m keeping, I place those items in my closet and immediately pack up my returns. I use to find items I meant to return scattered all over my house, or in the trunk of my car. Now I do all the steps at once, so I don’t waste any time and money.
Follow the return directions for each retailer and follow the instructions correctly. It will take longer to receive your refund if you don’t follow the proper procedures.