Online shopping: 11 tips for snagging a great deal

I love shopping online!

Some of my favourite haunts are Ali Express, Tommy Hilfiger, Etsy and Headline Shirts.

Shopping online can be a huge money-saver. New Zealand (where I live) is insanely expensive for clothing, and by shopping online I save a LOT of money.

I also enjoy the much wider variety available on the net. When I shop online I can find exactly what I want, not so much when I shop locally.

But you have to be careful, and there are definitely some tricks and skills. You want to keep mistakes down, keep items that don’t fit or are not what you expected down, and keep non-returnables down.

The internet is a giant bazaar of bargains and great deals. But be wary!
The internet is a giant bazaar of bargains and great deals. But be wary!

Here are some tips that I’ve used to keep your online shopping experiences happy and successful.

Have fun, and save money! 🙂

1. Buyer beware! That Latin saying “Caveat Emptor” might have been designed for online shopping. But you do have recourse. If your item doesn’t appear, or your money is stolen, your credit card company or PayPal through which the transaction was made, may be able to help you out. It pays to check. Don’t assume everything is lost.

2. Check shipping on the website before you start. Some salespoints offer free shipping, others charge huge amounts. I’ve found places where I got to the “check out”, only to find that to send an item to me I was going to be charged $50 or more! I cancelled, but it was a waste of my time. Check the shipping first.

3. Know your measurements. Ask a friend to help you, and spend a day taking all your measurements: bust, waist, hip, inseam, sleeve, neck, shoulder. Write them down in both metric (world) and imperial (US and Burma only) measurements. Then whenever you buy, you’ll have a handy reference to help you find the correct size.

4. Use measurements in centimeters or inches, not random size numbers, as a guide. I have clothes at home that are everything from a size 6 to a size 20, and all fit me the same. I have size M and size XXXXL. Don’t trust a random size “name”; choose according to proper measurements on the sizing charts at the company website. If uncertain, ask if possible.

5. Double and triple-check measurements. I buy items at, which is China-based, and a lot of their sizes are very different to Western ones. In New Zealand, I’m a size 12-14 (a US size 8-10). On Aliexpress, I’m often an XXXL or an XXXXL. You have to be careful!

6. If in doubt, opt for a larger size. If you’re not sure which size, choose the larger option. If an item is too small you’ll look and feel squashed, or you won’t fit it at all. Too big can usually be negotiated or altered.

7. If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. Don’t think you might just squeeze into that pair of size five sandals when you KNOW you’re a size seven. It won’t happen. They’ll sit in your wardrobe and gather dust. Nothing is beautiful to wear if it doesn’t fit you properly.

8. Try new items on, the moment they arrive. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who don’t do this. Don’t delay. If you loved it online, you should still love it at home. If not, keep the packaging and receipt, and put it by the front door to send back right away.

9. Check the returns policy. Larger salespoints usually return, smaller ones often don’t. You may lose the cost of postage, but that’s better than losing all your money spent on the item, right?

10. No returns doesn’t mean “all bad.” Many smaller salespoints don’t do returns. This is especially true with one-off sellers and suchlike. That doesn’t mean they’re crooks, but you are taking a chance. That said, you can often find some great, original items from these types of sellers.

11. Don’t be embarrassed, or feel guilty about returns. Shops really do not mind. They’re used to people returning stuff. It’s a daily occurrence. Large online salespoints have whole departments to deal with nothing but returns. Trust me, they’d rather have a happy, repeat customer than one who buys something, is unhappy, and doesn’t buy again.


    1. I love Etsy for the wonderful vintage shirts I’ve found there! I’m still hunting for vintage dresses – it’s so hard to find anything that isn’t absolutely *tiny* by modern sizes, and I’m nearly six feet tall! But when I *do* make a find, it’s fantastic 🙂


  1. So obvious and yet I don’t do it…I need to take my measurements. I used to be ridiculously underweight and would just snag the smallest size. Now, however, I’ve gained weight and need to do more investigating when shopping. (Inconvenient, but I feel so much healthier!)


    1. Hi – I know. I used to shop online all the time, yet base what I’d buy on the size numbers, not the measurements. Then I’d wonder why I had to return so many things! It also really helps to know them in both imperial and metric too, just in case you want to buy from a country that doesn’t use the measurement system you’re familiar with.

      I realised that the whole “size number” system was rubbish when I saw what I actually had in my wardrobe that fits me, and now I go on measurements instead. Size numbers mean nothing. Just go on what you actually measure, and buy stuff that fits. You’ll look much better in it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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