“I need to touch things and see them myself,” says my friend Phyllis about the prospect of shopping online rather than dealing with the crowds, long lines, and parking problems that come with pre-holiday mall shopping. I think she’s nuts.
Online Shopping or Bust
Give me the mouse over the store any day. No searching for sales help. No, “Excuse me, do you have this in a medium? I only see large.” No mush-mosh of sweaters and tangled scarves that “folders” at The Gap or J Crew or the you-name-it department store cannot keep up with. And forget having to send out a search party for the salesperson who disappeared into the shoe stockroom for so long you’re not even sure you’ll remember what he looks like when he emerges, often to tell you, “No, we do not have the size you need.”
Done in 30 Minutes
From lipsticks to Lexuses to lawnmowers, gifts for kids, to fine jewelry, online sales across almost any category are on the rise. And Black Friday sales seem to always increase year over year. I’ve added to the tally by ordering items as diverse as a pair of little girls’ pink studded cowgirl boots with a matching skirt from another site, a personalized Patriots team jersey, a shun santoku knife, and a pair of leather gloves. Done in 30 minutes. If I am sounding smug it is because I am.
Online Shopping Tips
If you are a new online shopper or getting ready to take the plunge, here are some tips:
It is not necessary to manually fill in all the required order information each time you make an order. Google has an auto-fill tool that allows you to fill all of it in with a click. The icon on the Google toolbar looks like a piece of paper with a yellow pencil on it. See what it looks like and download the Google toolbar.
Online Order Form
When your order is complete, print your order form even though you will get a confirmation email. If you do not get an email confirmation within 24 hours, call customer service to verify that your order went through, and you’ll have all the information you need right in front of you.
Read your confirmation email carefully. If an item is on backorder, some sites tell you that as you are placing your order, but most do not. You will learn that annoying fact when you get your email so be sure to check. In years of online ordering, this has only happened to me once, but it is fresh in my brain because it happened today, which is why my granddaughter is now getting studded pink boots instead of fringy ones!
save with coupon codes
Some sites are not charging for shipping during the holiday season but most do. If you are buying something available in many places, don’t unnecessarily pay for shipping or full price. Search online for a coupon code to save yourself a few dollars or even score free shipping! Or, do what I did. I called customer service (you can also choose to chat with them online) and asked if they had a coupon code I could use to save on my order. Guess what? Without a pause, the representative said, “Yes we do! It’s xxxxx.”
Skip the gift wrap
If you are buying a gift that you are going to hand-deliver, save yourself money by not choosing the gift-wrap option and be a do-it-yourselfer. Save even more, I’ve found some beautiful gift wrap rolls at the dollar stores, you can’t beat the price!
Buying for a collector of vintage items? You can feel safe ordering from eBay. Because those who sell on eBay are rated by consumers who have ordered from them, you can see just how pleased – or not – other customers have been. I have never ordered from someone rated less than 97%, and I’ve never had a problem.
Returns are so easy. The store you are buying from provides postage-paid return labels which you can affix directly to the box or envelope in which your order came.
Whether you are buying a gift for someone else or a gift just for yourself, give cyberspace a chance. As the old – and newly revived – Alka-Seltzer commercial says, “Try it. You’ll like it.”