Sunday, March 29, 2009

Online Shopping Club Strategies

In the last couple of months since my friends and I have been introduced to shopping clubs online like Ruelala, Gilt Group, and Hautelook I've noticed we've begun developing strategies for getting the best deal. Most of these will probably be pretty self-evident but I thought I would post them in case anyone out there might benefit.

What is a shopping club? Only the best thing to happen to the internet EVER! Think, designer clothing/makeup/jewelry at WAY discounted prices. You usually have to be referred to shop at these clubs, you get referrals through friends or people you know online (or blogs you read). Sales are fast - they change daily and you rarely know what exactly will be contained in a sale before it begins. Sometimes some clubs will give you a "preview" but you can't count on those previews to be exactly what will be offered in the sale.

Without further ado...

Shopping Club Strategies - by Sarah, Kara, and Sumo

  1. Know Your Measurements - if you're used to vanity sizing (like sizes at The Gap) designer sizes can throw you for a loop. Do NOT think that just because you're a "size 6" you will actually BE a size 6. Yes, this is a scary thing to consider but do it anyway! No one likes to know their measurements but a smart shopper has to.
  2. Check Brand-Specific Size Charts - Some shopping clubs like Rue La La will have these easily accessible. Others will not. Gilt Group displays a size chart that tells you how US sizes relate to UK sizes, but not which measurements are which sizes. You may have to do some legwork on Google to find size charts of designers but it'll be worth it. If you can not find a designer’s brand specific site, check department stores like Nordstroms.
  3. Research Brands Ahead Of Time - If you can, look up opinions on the designer ahead of time. Do their sizes usually run small? Are their shoes usually comfortable? Is the quality good or will it fall apart? Sadly, that is sometimes a factor even in designer clothing. Shoes, by the way, are the easiest items to find information about. Look at reviews on Zappos if you have to. Sometimes you can even call a store that sells the brand and they will tell you.
  4. Check The Fibers - The title of the item may say "Cashmere Sweater", the price may be great, but the actual fiber content may not be a high percentage of Cashmere. Are you really getting a good deal? Does the type of fabric even matter if you like the design?
  5. Get to the Sale Early - Seconds can matter, particularly on big names. Some sites you'll have to get to earlier than others. Ruelala, for example, usually has the best prices so if their sale starts at 11 am Eastern, you want to be online on their site the second the sale opens. Some sales will sell out faster than you think. The extreme sizes (0, 2, 12, 14) sell out fast. Just ask me about the size 14 Badgley Mischka's that sold out on me while I was hesitating.
  6. If You LOVE It - Don't Think, Just Buy - An ugly truth: some sites don't reserve something for you just because you put it in your shopping cart. That means that people can "steal" it out from under you. If it's ever happened to you, you know how frustrating it can get. Have your shipping and credit card info saved on the site so you can just buy. Dangerous thought, I know. If you want, just erase that info off the site after you place your order. This is a problem on very popular Ruelala sales.
  7. Know the Return Policy - Sales sometimes have their own return policy, rather than just a general site return policy. If purchasing beauty products, you may not have the option of returning. Know if your return date is from the date of sale, date of shipment, date of delivery, etc. Know if you'll get credit or a refund (usually credit). If the return policy is not to your liking, you might be better off shopping a different sale. Tip: if you can't return it, you can try selling it on eBay.
  8. Know Your Limit - You can go overboard with deals. Try to set a limit on how much you will spend on an item in a particular sale and stick to it. If your budget is "no more than $200 on a dress" and you open that Zac Posen sale and find everything to be $500 and up, either close the page or browse for the fun of it but don't even think about placing the item in your cart.
  9. Mind Your Shopping Cart - Good shopping etiquette: If you're not going to buy it, don't place it in your cart. This goes double for sites that do reserve your item for a period of time. You'll save someone else the hassle of hitting refresh for 15 minutes hoping the item appears available again (a big annoyance on Hautelook in particular).
  10. Know What Looks Good On You - If there are styles that you know are flattering, look for those silhouettes. When speed is necessary, use this as a heuristic for finding what you'll like. If you don't know, go buy Tim Gunn's book. It's a really nice guide.
  11. Know Your Style - It's hard to resist really awesome sales. It's a bit like reverse sticker shock sometimes when you realize you CAN buy that pair of shoes. But think about if what you're buying is something you will actually wear, get use out of, and love. Know what you wear all the time, know what you're comfortable in. Those are the items you will come back to wearing time and again.
  12. Know Your Current Wardrobe - What do you have? What do you need? Is what you're buying going to fit in with what you have? Is it going to accentuate what you have? Or will you never wear it because it doesn't go with what you have?
  13. Instant Messaging Is Your Friend - Most of us have friends we love to run things by. Instant Messaging is quick. Send links to your buddies to check your potential purchases if there is time. Listen to them - chances are they have a better idea what looks good on you than you do. They will save you from countless bad purchases. But this works both ways - sometimes your friends can convince you to buy things that just won't work.
  14. If You're Not Sure About It - For Frak's sake, don't buy it! There will be more things at a later date, chances are better things! This also goes for if you're purchasing something to fit into it later. By the time you can fit into it, chances are you won't want to wear it or you will want something new.
  15. Don't Be Selfish - Shopping Clubs are a great place to pick up gifts, whether they are bags, jewelry, scarves, makeup, or whatever. I often see things for other people, especially men so know your man's measurements!
  16. Share the Love - Refer your friends and family. If they purchase, often you'll get a little kick back for referring them (like $10 -$25 off your next purchase depending on the club). That can mean that you only pay for shipping, if you have enough credit built up. Also check your referrals - if the club isn't crediting them right, let them know!
Shopping Clubs to Join - If you want an invite, just ask me. I'll give you one.
Gilt Group
Beyond the Rack