With the holiday season fast approaching, most of us plan to repeat the new-age tradition of online shopping. A recent survey from eMarketer expects online holiday sales to soar to $32 billion this winter, up 10% over 2007. For clothes, shoes and accessories, Consumer Reports has the new list of best online clothing stores based mainly on value, quality, fit, selection and ordering.
Consumer Reports found that having a big name doesn’t guarantee a smooth online shopping experience. At Old Navy and Sears, for example, surveyors said the quality of the merchandise was “excellent” only about a third of the time. So without further ado, the top 10 sites in ranking order are:
1. L.L. Bean
3. Duluth Trading
8. Land’s End
10. Sierra Trading Post.
The bottom five web sites are Roaman’s, Woman Within, Chadwick’s, Haband and Newport News.
Before you start shopping take note of these three tips that can save you mind and money.
Sign Up for Sale Alerts
Don’t have time to scour the web for deals? Have the deals arrive in your inbox. Several sites such as ShopItToMe.com, Stylenotes.com, Gilt.com, RueLaLa.com and shefinds.com, do just that. In some cases, these sites will send you alerts on sales happening at major department stores and retailers, as well as at individual designer Web sites. A note of caution – your inbox can easily get cluttered after signing up for multiple alerts. Either set up a different email account for this or create a filter in your existing email account to sort these emails into a separate folder.
Seek Free Shipping and Free Returns
RevolveClothing.com, an online fashion boutique, is known for its hassle-free and wallet-friendly shipping and return policy. Shipping carries no cost and if you’re not happy with the item, the retailer provides pre-paid mailing labels. Same goes for footwear retailers Zappos.com and PiperLime.com. Department store Nordstrom.com also provides a free mailing label if you want to exchange an item.
Try to Return Locally
Just because an online site has a physical retail location doesn’t mean you can always return online purchases in the store. For example, if you arrive at your local Victoria’s Secret with that silk robe you bought on its Web site, the sales associate will refer you to the store’s strict policy of not assisting with online returns. Stores like J. Crew, Nordstrom and Macys are open to accepting online returns, saving you the cost of shipping and handling.
Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.