For many of us shopping online is a way of life, and we're reluctant to go into physical stores.
A 2018 survey found online spending in New Zealand is now worth $4.2 billion annually, that's 7.2 per cent of our annual $49 billion retail spend.
But are we buying what we really want?
I've lost count of the number of times I've had an event coming up where I've jumped online at the last minute to find an outfit.
But finding exactly what you are after can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That's why we've come up with 10 tips to help make you an expert online shopper.
1. COUNTRY SPECIFIC
Sometimes you don't have time to wait for something from overseas, so you want to narrow your search to items in New Zealand. At other times, you may want to search for an item overseas. Whatever the case may be, you can concentrate your search by adding the commonly used web abbreviation for the country you are after. For example, add site:nz after your search term for items in New Zealand. Use site:us for the United States, site:uk for the United Kingdom and so forth.
2. WEBSITE SPECIFIC
What if you love a particular site and want to search it specifically? No problem. Just type in what you are looking for, add a colon and then the web address of the site in question with no spaces. For example if I wanted to find a floral dress on The Iconic, I would type in floral dress:theiconic.co.nz
3. SIMILAR SITE
This is great for when you have a favourite shopping site, but may have exhausted your options on there and want to look elsewhere. By using the word related, followed by a colon and the site you are currently on, you can get a list of similar sites. For instance to find similar sites to The Iconic I would type in related:theiconic.co.nz
4. MINUS SIGN
Using the minus or subtraction symbol, that is, a hyphen before a word, helps narrow a search greatly. For example, imagine that you want to search for a pair of boots but don't want them to have a zip. By typing boot –zip (or boot -zipper) in your search bar, you will immediately wipe out all boots with a zip, thereby saving you time wading through all those links.
5. EXACT PHRASE
I find this great for when you find the perfect outfit but it has sold out! Take the exact name of the item and search for it using inverted commas. For instance, I just looked up a dress on The Iconic for the purposes of this exercise and did an exact phrase (search "Shona Joy Jean puff sleeve drawstring mini dress") and found the same dress listed directly with the supplier Shona Joy as well as on additional sites. Problem solved and you don't have to miss out.
If you are shopping on international sites, you'll encounter measurements in inches and feet and shopping prices in other currencies. Unless you are a great mathematician and can do all the conversions quickly in your head, it helps to call on Google. You don't even have to waste time looking up a conversion site. Simply type what you are after in the search bar, and voila, the answer will appear. For instance, if I wanted to find out how much $30 on a US site is in New Zealand dollars, I type the following into the search bar — 30USD to NZD — and the answer appears (currently $43.71 for those playing at home).
7. UNKNOWN ASTERISK
The asterisk is a great tool when you are looking for a particular item but can't quite remember what it is called. As a hypothetical, imagine your friend told you she liked a Kylie Jenner Lip Kit and told you her favourite colour — something Bug — you can't quite remember. Simply type in Kylie Jenner Lip Kit * Bug and you'll discover the colour is June Bug.
We would all love to shop without a budget, but unfortunately at times we are constrained by our bank accounts. This is a great way to confine the search to items you can actually afford … unless you are in a dreaming kind of mood. Simply go to the shopping tab in Google search and type in the item you are after and the amount range you want to spend separated by two dots. For example, the search term glass vase $40..$80 will yield vases fitting that description and that price range.
9. ALL IN THE TITLE
This one is a little similar to number five, but allows you to search for words you definitely want in the title, although they do not have to be exactly in the order that you type. For instance, as a random example, I searched for allintitle: dress mini blue flowers and all the links that came up had those four words in the title.
10. UNDECIDED "OR"
Finally, this one is for the indecisive shoppers who can't quite decide what they are after. Hmmm, do I want a pair of black ankle boots, or would I get more use out of a tan pair? Instead of separate searches, I can combine with the use of the word "or". So I would type in black ankle boots or tan ankle boots and get a selection to choose from.
Don't forget you can mix and match the above tips as well. Have fun shopping!