To many women it’s not even a question: shoes need to be tried on before buying, this cannot be done online, end of story. Or there might be women out there who enjoy going to shoe stores.
I don’t. One of the reasons (just one) why I shop online is because I prefer to do without the salespeople. Nothing against them, but there is so many different motivations for shoe buying and so many things to consider that I don’t need to have someone standing over me, watching me, sulking, or rolling their eyes when I say that I’m not going to take these ones, even though I walked around in them and said that they were comfortable, pretty, etc.
Besides there is this: you want what you want. How many shoe stores can you physically go to, searching for that one dream model, before you are all sweaty, exhausted, and fed-up?
Online you can go to hundreds and stay as cool as a cucumber (or warm yourself with a cup of tea, depending on the mood and time of year). Another thing I found is that the choice is so much greater online. Shoe stores order what they think will appeal to their customers. They don’t like to take risks. As a result, you might look up a new collection from your favorite brand and find that the stores close to you have only ordered a few models and they are not the ones you like.
Online retailers do not need to spend resources on the pricy storefront, so they can afford to have bigger selections. In recent years online shopping has matured, become much safer, added many features that make buying from them fun, and they go out of their way to give you information that will help you make your decision. The best thing is that if you’re not happy, you can return the shoes. Some even pay for return shipping. At least now you’ve tried the shoes on in the privacy of your home and you know.
Also, with time we get more experienced and better at telling whether a shoe will work or not just by looking at it. Online you can compare as many as you like and nobody will hurry you into making a decision.
Personally I’ve purchased Spanish shoes and accessories from the big multi-brand retailers like www.yoox.com, www.net-a-porter.com, boutiques like www.espadrillestore.com, www.shapings.com, Ebay, of course, and the shoe companies’ own online stores.
YOOX (from Bologna, Italy, with a warehouse in New Jersey) has an enormous selection and you can browse by brand, color, style, you name it. They ship very fast and cheap (sometimes for free, depending on the order amount, promotions, etc), they provide a return label, so all you have to do if you want to return is to go to your post office. A small sacrifice for figuring out whether a certain brand is a good fit for you.
London-based Net-a-porter is also a breeze – the have tons and tons of stuff, with lots of great search filters that help you save time and narrow down the selection. Accepting returns and doing exchanges goes without saying. They have fashion news and lots of other extras, so as you are shopping, you also get the latest news on what is going on in the fashion world. If you choose to read on, of course.
Espadrillestore, based in Montreal, has not been around long, but they are growing and working very hard to make buying espadrilles as easy and fun as the shoes themselves. Their website is very appealing. They have a big selection of authentic espadrilles from Spain and they give you tons of background on who makes the shoes, where and how they are made, with interesting videos, stories, a blog, etc. They also ship fast, usually for free if you’re in Canada.
Ebay does not need any introduction. Having been a member for a long time, though, I’ve noticed how much they’ve changed for the better. They guarantee their transactions a hundred percent. If something goes wrong, they will give you your money back. They make bidding and buying super easy. If you do have an issue with a seller or a transaction, they act as an intermediary in all communications, so that there is complete transparency and so that ultimately everyone is satisfied.
TIPS FOR BUYING SHOES ONLINE:
#1 Compare, compare, compare between different stores – don’t settle until you find what you like. Read the descriptions carefully.
#2 Read other customers’ reviews, to see what they say about fit, size, quality. Remember that everyone’s feet are different, though!
#3 Make use of the size guide, but if in doubt contact the store directly. Many have live chat. Or, if still unsure, e-mail the actual brand – they have all the motivation to help you.
#4 If you don’t want to become a member, use guest check-out. They will still send you e-mails. The good news is that often they contain deals and promotions.
#5 If the brand you are buying is entirely new to you, go to a traditional shoe store, try a pair on. You’ll get an idea of the fit and the feel. Then go back home and order what you actually want online, often for less money. If you don’t know whether any stores in your town sell the shoes you are interested in, contact the brand directly – they will be happy to send you a list of stores that carry their designs.
#6 Follow your favorite brands on social media: many offer exclusive give aways and promotions to followers.
#7 Don’t be afraid: if something goes wrong, they will either fix it for you, or even on the off chance that things still go awry, remember that in the day and age of Twitter and Facebook, the last thing a company wants is bad press!