A handful of years ago, if someone had said that you would be able to do all of your Christmas shopping online, it would have sounded like a beautiful daydream. Now it has become standard practice to buy many of our purchases without ever leaving the comfort of our lounge chair. The surprise though, is the fact that it isn’t actually stress free. Somehow getting tangled in all the websites, shipping dates and details, wondering if the sizes will be accurate or not and worse – figuring out returns or exchanges – is almost as stressful as a December shopping mall. Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but surely there is a way to make it slightly less of a “twenty-seven open tab” mess right? Of course there is and we’re here to help. Here are our five fool-proof online Christmas shopping tips. Make yourself a cuppa (something calming), light a candle (we recommend Pink Peppercorn or White Tea for total zen) and put your feet up, laptop on one side, notepad on the other.
- Make two lists. One is the obvious Christmas list. Take your time with it and be thorough, include miscellaneous office “thank-yous” and gifts you may need for teachers or coaches. Your second list is a list of websites you plan to visit. It may not be comprehensive and you may find new things as you go, but if you start with a list, it won’t become a free for all. There are about 12 million online stores and you’ll only be needed half a dozen. Structure will save you time. If you do find something good, bookmarking or save it to a Pinterest board so that next time you remember exactly where it is and how to find it.
- Use online shopping resources. You can search the “shopping” function on Google to narrow things down or there are gift sites that curate interesting and beautiful gifts for you – try hardtofind.com.au for an Australian version of this.
- Find something you like? Read the reviews. Reviews are your best friend online as they tell you immediately what people like you thought of the product. The more specific the review, the more useful it will be to you. Avoid sites that sell very specific or personal products (like cosmetics) but have no customer reviews. And of course – do your part and review the product when you are done.
- When you are ordering take the time to check the delivery dates, the postage fees and the returns policy. It can be very easy to overlook these and then find yourself desperately waiting for a packing on the 23rd of December or worse, stuck with something you didn’t expect with no way to return it. Some companies sell products that they drop-ship from places like China or India. These can take longer than you think to arrive and be more difficult to return. Doing a few moments of research can keep you out of trouble later on. You may also be able to get a seller to gift wrap and send your present directly to your intended recipient, something that not only saves time, but shipping costs if you are posting internationally.
- Where possible pay with Paypal or Google Wallet or another service that offers buy protection. The last thing you need over the Christmas break is credit card fraud. Paypal is particularly valuable because it offers protection on any goods you pay for as well as the shipping costs. Paypal also mediates between buys and sellers making it much easier to get full communication if something goes wrong.
There you have it – a few simple tools to making your Christmas shopping a two-hour armchair event rather than several days at a crowded mall. Oh – and how about one more thing to sweeten the deal? This Christmas we will be including a gift with every purchase made between now and the 25th.