Online shopping comes with plenty of benefits, but sometimes it's hard to know if you're getting the lowest prices. After all, if you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, you know exactly where the clearance rack is, you might have coupons at the ready, and there's a customer service desk (or a cashier) there to answer any questions. You're only looking at one store, too, rather than trying to compare prices between several. In the big wide world of online retailers, how can you ever be certain you got the lowest prices?
Well, these seven tips are a great place to start. If you're looking to save money while buying clothes online, it's best to have some basic rules to guide you!
Find Your Personal Style
This might not seem directly related to finding the best deal, but it should be one of your first steps before you start shopping. When you're geared up to start shopping online, the possibilities are seemingly endless. There's an online store for everything - including every style out there. Whether you lean more on the Bohemian side or prefer a polished, professional look, you should shop online in a place that sells what you're looking for. Otherwise, no amount of deal-finding or discounts will make the purchase worthwhile. It might even waste money. Getting a shirt for $3 is still $3 down the drain if you'll never put it on.
So, before you start counting around for the best deals, decide what you're looking for. Some people adopt a personal color palette to make shopping easier, while others decide to shop for particular occasions or locations. For example, if you're looking for office wear, don't spend your time hunting down online discounts for vacation-ready clothing.
Personal style may also include things like preferred brands, whether they're designer brands or something less expensive. This makes the whole shopping process less chaotic and exhausting. You'll know what you're looking for, so you won't get distracted (and wasteful) when something else comes your way. Finding your style is your first step toward scoring good deals.
Look for Free Shipping
Shipping costs can add quite a sum to your purchase total. Suddenly, saving $20 on a pair of jeans is less impressive if you have to shell out $15 for shipping. Most sites require that you spend a certain amount to get free shipping, but there are periodic sales throughout the year (like Black Friday) offering it, too. Before getting too excited about a sale or clearance find, determine whether you'll still be saving money if you pay for shipping. Sometimes, it's worth waiting until later.
Depending on the store, you can also take advantage of free ship-to-store policies, where you order a piece of clothing or product online and have it sent to the physical store closest to you. Shipping is free, and you'll just head to the store and pick up your package there. Many stores offer the option now, assuming you have a location close by.
Of course, if you find other pieces you love you can always purchase enough to qualify for free shipping the normal way! Don't overbuy just to get that, though, or you're stuck with the same problem.
Find Coupon Codes
Practically all online shopping sites accept coupon codes. Many retailers generate their own, which you can sign up to receive through their emails or newsletters, and sites like RetailMeNot collect codes for everything.
Even if you have an email address completely devoted to getting store emails and special deals, something might fall through the cracks. Before you checkout, always make sure you scour the internet for a coupon code. Even if it only saves you 5%, that's more money in your pocket and less you've spent on clothes! When you buy online, you have more resources at your disposal than physical stores offer, so don't skip them!
There are several different ways to get cashback from online stores, and you can even combine several of them to get a mega deal. You can use any combination of cashback apps like Ibotta to get a certain percentage back if they have a partnership with the particular store or brand you're checking out. If you're a frequent online shopper, get a credit card that rewards your spending habits. You'll pocket reward points or cash every time you make a purchase.
And, of course, you should never start an online shipping session without logging into your free Comrade account. If Comrade spots something from a partnered brand you'll be interested in, you'll score a fantastic deal and get paid for your attention at the same time.
Shop Flash Sales
Flash sales are special, limited-time sales offered online. There are in-person versions of flash sales too, but they tend to be less accessible than their online counterparts.
Flash sales offer deep discounts on all manner of items. You'll be able to find clothing for yourself or the whole family, but you'll need to act quickly. Flash sales only last for a short while and there's a limited quantity of items, so it isn't something you'll be able to ponder for long. It's best to go in knowing (roughly) what you're looking for, so you can spend your time and money wisely.
Several sites specialize in flash sales, including those below.
- HauteLook - HauteLook is affiliated with Nordstrom and offers clothing for women, men, and kids at up to 70% off the retail price.
- Rue La La - Offerings change daily and feature clothing for the whole family, items for the home, and more.
- Beyond the Rack - Beyond the Rack has a little bit of everything, and 'everything' is up to 80% off. The only downside is that BTR only ships to Canadian addresses, so everyone else has to look for their deals elsewhere.
Check the Return Policy
Before you make the leap and buy something, check the return policy for that item. If it's on clearance, you may not be able to send it back. Some sites also charge the customer for return shipping and/or packaging, and that's best to know ahead of time.
If a retailer doesn't offer free shipping, make sure to consult their size charts before making your purchase. If you're paying for return shipping, you can't rely on grabbing multiple sizes and sending back those that don't work. Online stores don't exactly come with dressing rooms!
Use a Price Comparison Tool
With thousands of online retailers, comparing prices on similar (or identical items) is a major drag. Luckily, there are price comparison tools like ShopSavvy or Google Shopping to help you out. Even if something seems like a great deal on one site, putting it into a price comparison app may show that it's still sold at a lower price elsewhere! This is particularly true with basic clothing items, furniture, household goods, and more. You may think you're getting a steal, only to find out you could've saved yet another 10% or 20% on another site.
Everyone knows about checking for sales and perusing the clearance items, but adding the tips above will secure the best clothing deals possible. From special flash sales to shopping with your Comrade browser extension, you'll save money and get what you need.