Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In the Click of Time

6 easy ways to master online shopping

Lei Chic's online shopping tips

Superman: man of steel until rendered powerless by Kryptonite. Wonder Woman: warrior princess until stripped of her kickass accessories. Green Lantern: ring-wielding, mask-wearing hottie until thwarted by... anything yellow.

Every superhero has their weakness. You, Shop Girl, can spot a steal in nanoseconds, carry five times your weight in samples and speed through a dozen stores in a single bound. Online, however, you buckle under the uncertainty and challenges of virtual buying.

Have no fear. Our Lei Chic experts are here to save the day with six easy tips to turn any Timid Typer into the ultimate Internet Intimidator.

#1: Learn to Fit In
Size is just a number, but it's a very important number when you're shopping sans dressing room. Spend just one day in Off 5th, Barney's Outlet, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack, and other discount stores trying on every designer imaginable without the salesperson pressure. Knowing you tend to be a size 6 in Kate Spade slingbacks but can swing a 7 in slides, or that you slip into a size 4 Armani skirt and a size 6P pant, can prevent many unhappy returns. Still in doubt? Remember, a good tailor can almost always take in larger sizes, but may not be able to fix one that's too small.

#2: Beat the Clock
Here's an advantage of Hawaii Standard Time: sales, new collection launches and events usually kick off at midnight either Eastern or Pacific time, meaning you can score your favorites without battling the crowds in store the next morning. When the Prabal Gurung collection arrived at Target on February 10, we skipped the craziness having snapped up our picks the night before. Online Black Friday offers are sometimes up by 6 p.m. here. Watch your website to see when it makes the switch.

#3: Score Extra Points
Use your purchases to actually make money with cashback websites. Search for your favorite stores on Ebates, ShopAtHome.com, FatWallet, Extrabux or MyLuckyRewards.com (exclusive to Lucky Magazine subscribers), click through and a percentage of your purchase will come back to you in gift cards. Get the biggest bang for your buck by also using airlines or store credit cards to score miles or points.

#4: Stalking is Totally Okay
Most websites are fairly consistent with when markdowns happen and what day of the week the best sales are offered. If you are a discount designer shopper (i.e. Editors' Closet, HauteLook, Gilt), check sites regularly to see which lines are offered and for what prices. For example, both HauteLook and Gilt do blowouts of American Apparel pieces, but HauteLook often is a little cheaper. Some also offer lookbooks so you can preshop; Gilt puts its full selection on Facebook an hour before the actual sale so when the competition starts, you know exactly what you want.

#5: Double Check
Before you check out, make sure you're getting the best deal. Start at RetailMeNot to look for any free shipping or additional discount coupon codes. If you have a favorite shopping website, also track the app and vice versa. For example, Gilt will often offer sales only through its app. We've also spotted a 15 percent off code only offered on its website.

#6: Ensure the Price is Right
If you do find something you just won't buy without seeing it up close and personal, at least take advantage of sometimes cheaper web prices. Target does mark up items a bit in Hawaii, but if you find it in stock for the lower price on Target.com, customer service will match it. Best Buy, Toys"R"Us, Macy's and a few other major chains will do the same, just check their price match policy.

Photo: Courtesy ThinkStock

Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 in Permalink

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About Lei Chic

Lei Chic is a daily email and shopping blog that plugs you into Hawaii's newest and hottest boutiques, designers, trends, spas and salons, and more. You'll also discover all the cool events, dinners and sales happening around town in our Weekend Picks every Thursday. With Lei Chic, you'll get the inside scoop on what everyone will be talking about tomorrow – in your inbox today.

Lei Chic associate editor Natalie Schack has been a cultural anthropology student,museum worker bee and dabbler in graphic design. When she isn't scouting new fashion, compiling to-do lists or crafting puns, Natalie spends her free time dreaming up elaborate picnic ideas; "researching" via YouTube tutorials, blogs and Instagram; and dusting off her pith helmet for the next adventure life throws her way.

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