In recent years there has been an onslaught of new online shopping sites to fuel an already saturated market. Some of them are pop-up stores with flash sales, tempting you to get discounted merchandise for a limited time before it disappears, or “membership sites” where your credit card is debited a set fee every month for shopping credits that you can use toward exclusive merchandise. There are sites for travel junkies and fashion junkies and shoe junkies and home goods junkies – you name it, it’s out there.
If you have a practiced eye for sorting through sale racks and designer salons, you may be more adept at weeding your way through the labyrinth of on-line consignment sites, but what’s a gal to do when she really, really, REALLY wants a Chanel bag that popped up on her screen but can’t tell if it’s the real deal or not?
On-line consignment shopping is both a blessing and a curse. Brick and mortar stores that sell “used” or “vintage” or consignment pieces tend to be destination places that require the shopper to make a day of it, flicking though racks and stacks to find the buried treasure.
But simply enter Shop-Hers.com or TheRealReal.com into your browser on a rainy afternoon and a world of designer duds awaits you. Jonesing for a new purse…? DesignerSocial.com will quench your thirst. Do you just have to have a Tiffany necklace without the Tiffany price? BagBorroworSteal.com can scratch your itch. Feeling that you need a wardrobe that would rank on the Red Carpet…? Check out Vaunte.com for suggestions that will make you feel like a movie star.
OK, this is easy and just a click away, you say to yourself. How do I know if what I’m buying is real or if these sites are reliable? Well, you have to do your homework. These shopping sites are not eBay. Generally there is a set price that is non-negotiable and not auction based. Which can take some of the stress out of the transaction, but adds a new layer of questioning if the site is legitimate.
Really look at the sites. Read the small print. See what kinds of payment options they offer and what their shipping policies are. Do they accept major credit cards or only PayPal? What types of merchandise authenticity guarantees are they offering? Check out the return policy. Nothing is worse that landing a Prada dress to find out that the armholes are too tight and you can’t wear it comfortably. Read the size guides and factor in that you may have to have an item altered for a good fit. Is the price worth the extra effort? Enlarge the images and make note of wear and tear on the items. Is a Valentino bag really worth the money saved if it looks shabby or worn when it arrives? Read and then re-read the descriptions after looking at the images.
In most cases you will be pleasantly surprised with the options available and the goods delivered. I have found beautiful suede peep-toe pumps with the tags on for a fraction of their retail price, and ordered pieces that I have to talk myself into keeping. I have never had a problem returning things that didn’t work, but I went into the transaction armed with the facts about returns. I have also had positive experiences selling my unwanted duds on these sites, but the payday on formerly high priced goods is less satisfying than finding something a great deal. But perhaps that speaks more to my personality than my financial acumen!
Online consignment stores can be well worth the visit, but you should certainly take the time to know what you are buying, and from whom, before you enter your credit card number and hit send.