How to buy safer, cheaper clothes online



Internet clothes shopping may seem like a minefield of confusing sizes and lengthy checkouts, but an increasing number of Aussies, especially women, swear by their favourite online stores.

Three out of four internet users in Australia shopped online in 2012-13, with clothing in the second most popular category for women.

Bryna Howes, editor of female style and fashion website Stylish 365, tells The New Daily that the amount of consumers shopping for clothes online is rising because of the “tons of benefits”.

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“If you are a savvy shopper, you compare deals, steals and prices easily and efficiently with just the click of a button,” Ms Howes says.

online shopping

A simple search can unearth huge savings. Photo: Shutterstock

“And if you’re shy or self-aware, trying on clothes in the privacy of your home is guaranteed to ease any anxieties you may have.”.

State of Shop co-creator Keely Sonntag, whose website compares the best online shopping stores, tells The New Daily that the convenience of online shopping is its biggest advantage.

“You can shop at any time and know that within a few days you’re going to get the clothes delivered to you,” Ms Sonntag says.

“I also think that the diversity and variety you get from being able to shop online is greater than in stores.”

Cheaper international prices — the result of fewer taxes and greater price competition overseas — is another reason why online shopping has grown “exponentially” in Australia, Ms Sonntag says.

Slater and Gordon consumer lawyer James Naughton says online shopping is certainly convenient, but warns of “potential pitfalls”.

“It’s not so clear-cut online so you need to be confident about what you are buying, who you are handing your money to and know where you stand if what you have bought doesn’t live up to your expectations or doesn’t arrive,” Mr Naughton says.

Here is how you can get in on the web action without getting caught out by fraudsters and size medium sweaters that could drown an elephant.

Google is your best friend

Once you’ve found what you want to buy, don’t settle for where you found it. Type the name of the clothing into a search engine and see if you can find a better deal elsewhere.

Discount coupons or promo codes, which are combinations of letters and/or numbers that unlock secret savings, can also easily be found by searching for them online. For example, type in “Witchery” + “promo code”.

Trust is key

Country Road

Trusted brands, especially those with a strong presence in Australia, could be the way to go. Photo: AAP

Stick to the reputable brands that have proven track records and strong customer service departments. This will make your shopping experience easier and less stressful.

If a website is unfamiliar, research the company, read buyer reviews, and call the contact number.

Read the fine print

It is very important that you carefully check the refund, returns, privacy, delivery and guarantee policies before clicking ‘buy’ and getting lumped with expensive clothes that don’t fit.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers says that Australian consumers have a right to a repair, replacement or refund when making a purchase over the internet if the product is defective or does not do what it is meant to. But not all sites will agree to an exchange or refund if you simply change your mind.

Sign up and sign in

Discounts and members-only offers can often be found in email newsletters and behind the signed-in section of shopping websites.

Pay with credit

Paying with your debit card may not protect you from fraud, so it could be wiser to pay on credit, just in case the shopping site you use has weak security.

Keep a close eye on your bank statements and call the bank if there is a problem.

“I have been defrauded. Someone managed to get my card details, but because I use my credit card the bank picked it up straight away and fixed it up immediately,” Ms Sonntag says.

Assume it won’t fit

You must treat your clothing like you would in a store if you want to return it. This means keeping the tags on. If you buy shoes, try them on carpet so they don’t get scuffed.

Beware the scammers

online clothes shopping

Credit trumps debit when it comes to purchasing peace of mind. Photo: Getty

In order to stay safe while buying clothes online, consumer advocate group CHOICE recommends that you:

• Never give your personal password to anyone, and remember that legitimate businesses do not ask for security details via email or phone;

• Have up‐to‐date anti‐virus, anti‐malware, anti‐spyware software on your computer;

• Never use the same password for different sites;

• Only buy from websites that encrypt your payment details. These have https:// in the address bar (instead of http://) and a small padlock symbol on the bottom right of the browser;

• Always re‐check that the domain name matches the website. For example could be a fraudulent copy of

Beat the browser

According to new research from the US, some online retailers vary their prices depending on your browser, device and internet history — in the hope of charging wealthier users higher prices.

For example, that red dress you’ve been eyeing off could go for $200 on your iPhone but $180 on your desktop computer.

To see if this is happening to you, try searching in your computer’s normal browser, then in an incognito window, and then on a smartphone or tablet.

Stick to what you can afford

Topman (budget to mid-range)
Charles Tyrwhitt
(mid-range to luxe)
East Dane (mid-range to luxe)
Mr Porter (luxe)

Missguided (budget)
Top Shop (budget to mid-range)
Fashion Bunker (mid-range)
ShopBop (mid-range to luxe)
Net-a-porter (luxe)
The Outnet (luxe)

Cotton On (budget)
Boohoo (budget)
ASOS (budget to mid-range)
The Iconic (budget to mid-range)
SurfStitch (budget to mid-range)
Witchery (mid-range)
American Apparel (mid-range)
Country Road (mid-range)
Need Supply Co (mid-range)
General Pants Co (mid-range)
Nordstrom (mid-range to luxe)
Farfetch (luxe)

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