At Your Fingertips: Top Tips for Buying Shoes Online

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Before the Internet, buying shoes was just another errand on most people's ever-expanding to-do list. Even a casual purchase required a trip to the store and a lot of slipping shoes on and off as you decided which pair to purchase.

As technology has become more prevalent, however, an increasing number of people have turned to the web to buy their shoes. With kids, work, and other obligations, most people lead busy lives with little time to devote to in-store shoe shopping. Additionally, the Internet provides consumers with nearly unlimited access to a large variety of shoe designers, sizes, styles, and accessories. Instead of being limited to the offerings at your local shoe store, you can now view numerous styles, colors, and sizes from around the world. Whether you need heels, boots, sneakers, or flip flops, you can easily find them online.

Don't Forget Shipping Charges

One the benefits of buying shoes online is having them shipped directly to your door. Do not forget, however, that shipping adds an extra cost to your shoe purchase. You might be able to find cheap shoes online, but the savings you see from a great footwear deal can evaporate once you factor in shipping. If you are buying shoes from overseas, worldwide shipping rates can quickly turn a sweet deal sour. Sites such as Woman's Day routinely post coupons that offer shoppers significant savings. These deals can defray shipping costs.

To prevent this, calculate your shipping charges as soon as you spot a shoe you love. Many consumers flock to popular online shops that provide free shipping, but these stores don't always offer the best deals. Shop around and compare costs at several online retailers. You might be surprised to discover that free shipping deals don't always come out on top.

Check the Return and Exchange Policy

Not all shoes are created equal. A size 7 narrow from one store might fit completely differently from a competing store's version. Moreover, a shoe might end up looking far different in person than the way you envisioned it. If you can't return it or exchange it, you are left with a lighter wallet and a shoe that doesn't fit. Before you buy, familiarize yourself with the store's return and exchange policy. According to some fashion bloggers, many stores have accommodating return policies. Do not assume, however, that every store will allow you to return merchandise for a full refund. Additionally, find out whether you must cover the return shipping costs if you do decide to return or exchange an item. Some retailers also build a handling or restocking fee into their return charges.

If you find an amazing deal, it might be worthwhile to take a gamble on a shoe without a return policy. It's still a good idea to protect yourself by reading up on return and exchange information before you click the purchase button.

Be Aware of Shipping Times

When you buy online, you sacrifice the ability to enjoy your purchase right away. The phrase "good things come to those who wait" is never more applicable than it is in the realm of online shoe shopping. To ensure you are not disappointed, know in advance how long you can expect to wait to receive your shoes. If you need a particular pair of shoes for an important event, such as a wedding or work function, give yourself plenty of time for shipping. Order as far in advance as possible to account for weather, delivery mishaps, and holidays. Additionally, backordered products can add several days, weeks, or even months to shipping times. If you are cutting it close to the special day, you are probably better off purchasing shoes the old fashioned way.

Learn How to Spot Fakes

Unfortunately, online retailers are not always honest. There are plenty of companies that offer inauthentic products at exorbitant prices. To avoid getting ripped off, learn how to identify fake merchandise. Because many online stores post genuine pictures of the designer shoes they purport to sell, you might have to wait until you receive the shoes to determine their authenticity. ABC News recommends comparing the color to the designer shoes featured on the manufacturer's website. You should also check the box to see the country of origin, as most fakes are manufactured in China.

Megan Barnes is a shoe aficionado. She greatly enjoys writing about shopping for and styling shoes on fashion blogs.