Benefits of Online Furniture Shopping

Here are a few important ones –

  1. Time Saving: This may be a cliché but it actually is an absolutely valid argument in favour of online shopping especially so in the case of furniture shopping. The reason for this is really simple. Furniture is, as we all know, different from our regular shopping items in an obvious way. It is a non-standardised commodity. So where you might pop into a shop and buy, say an mp3 player of a particular brand, you don’t usually do so at a whim (at least not all of us). You’d plan what we want, study the specifications, view one that probably a friend has already bought and then go ahead with the buying decision knowing fully well that whichever shop you buy it from, it will be the same product. Furniture on the other hand requires even more thought to be put into and usually differs in terms of designs and ranges from shop to shop with only a few products available generically. This being a creative industry, catering to the tastes of the multitudes scores a high rank in the furniture trade agenda. This brings us to the issue of time. It isn’t a quick job even to go through webshops that have the type of furniture you might be after. Now imagine having to roam around city high streets scouring furniture shops for the same item. Gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘shop till you drop’. Now all of us might not be so selective or even downright picky about our designs, but if we had the opportunity, most of us would like to be at least a little selective and get what suits our tastes best and at the best possible price. Enter the online shopping world. It offers wide selections from across the country at highly competitive prices. No wonder online sales are rising at a much higher rate than offline ones. It really does save time and hassle.
  2. Extreme Competition: Economic downturn or not, who doesn’t like a great bargain? We are always on the lookout for good deals where we can save our hard earned dosh. The online marketplace is always an ideal place to look for deals that are the outcome of cut-throat competition between the retailers. The reason for this is the transparency that the internet offers when it comes to comparing similar products and their prices. The terms ‘Going-Out-Of-Business-Sale’, ‘Overstock-Sale’, ‘Summer-Sale’, ‘Winter-Sale’, ‘For-No-Apparent-Reason-Sale’, etc. no longer lead customers astray. Online shoppers have started seeing through the tricks of dodgy retailers for quite some time now. What matters now is the ultimate price for the product and service that is desired, and a few taps on the keyboard and a click or two of the mouse are enough to reveal a lengthy list of comparative pricing for almost everything. An open and honest pricing policy goes a long way in building good, regular customer flow for an online furniture shop. Compare this to shop-hopping in the physical world collecting prices from shop to shop and you would see that what would take days could be done online in a matter of minutes. Of course, it is a bit tricky due to the aforementioned non-standardised nature of the furniture trade but ‘keyword-power’ does come in handy here.
  3. Smaller Shops, Greater Value: In continuation to the previous point, well-managed smaller online shops are usually able to offer much better discounts and/or service as compared to the retail giants. That is quite in contrast to the physical world shop scenario and is due to lower overheads that the internet offers to the small shop owners. For buyers of course, it’s another win-win situation.
  4. Online Financial Security: A major factor that kept people vary of online shopping was the matter of online financial privacy and security. It was a rational fear in the early days of the internet marketplace and the effect has been pronounced when it comes to high ticket purchasing as is normally the case in the furniture market. Needless to say, trillions of dollars and pounds worth of online trade warrants amazingly high levels of security and that is exactly what payment service providers have been offering. Well known companies such as Paypal, Worldpay, Protx, etc. have absolute state of the art systems with extremely low failure rates and secure fraud protection systems offering ultimate peace of mind for customers. Yet some online furniture retailers do provide the familiar old and trusted methods of payment such as cheque payments and bank transfers. To each his/her own I say.
  5. Allied Industry Growth: As the online market grows for the furniture industry, so does one of its primary allied industry – nationwide furniture delivery. New companies have been sprouting up online which cater to small to medium furniture retailers by providing them cost effective delivery services, thereby reducing the need for the shops to maintain in-house delivery vehicles’ overheads. These savings are passed on to the consumers resulting in further increase in market growth. It is a chain reaction and a mighty beneficial one at that. However, not all delivery companies are up to the mark at the moment, in terms of quality, but growth has a way of ironing out the problems and the future here can only be better.

These are but a few of the important benefits of online furniture shopping.

But all this does not mean that everything is hunky dory in online-furniture-shopping land.

There are problems and pitfalls but as the market matures, so does the consumer psyche.

Progress, as wise old folks say, shall fuel progress.

Christmas Shopping With Toddlers: Part 2 – Putting Your Plan Into Action

You’ve completed your list, done your research, completed all of your online shopping and now you’re ready to embark on your mall attack. Your trips are all penciled in your agenda and now you are ready to go.

Pick an appropriate time:

Plan the 2 hours of reckoning during a time that works well with your toddler and assures a lessened crowd in the malls. Deciding to do this during your toddler’s nap time on a Sunday afternoon is begging for a disaster. Early mornings just after your child has gotten up and eaten generally works well for most moms and young children. Try to make it to the mall just after the doors open and in the earlier part of the week (Monday to Wednesday is best). Also, if your child is particularly upset, sick or irritated that day, re-schedule.

Pack well and light:

Invest in a mommy backpack. This isn’t the time to go out in the crowds with your fully loaded diaper bag. Take your list, bottled water, wallet, 2 diapers with a small wipe clutch, one container of nibbles for the little one and the one favorite toy that can’t be left home. That’s it. Just pack what you would sparingly need for a 2 hour period. Keep your handy pack ready at all times for your 2 hour dash.

Dress comfortably:

This isn’t a fashion show and you’re somewhat running a marathon today. So dress comfortably and wear flat shoes. Dress your little person in layers so that you can assure no cranky moments due to overheating.

Talk, talk and talk some more

One thing that tends to work for most mothers is talking. Talk to your toddler; tell them where you’re going, what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it. At this young and impressionable age, they just love hearing their mother’s voice. Try using large vocabulary and words that your child hasn’t heard before. When there is so much interesting information coming through mommy’s lips, there is no time to think about pulling a tantrum.

The carrot at the end of the stick

I’m not into bribes and in all honesty, bribes should not be used as a means to get things done with your child. All it does is feed the potential to a bigger problem and consistent tantrums. However, providing an incentive for your child is something that can be extremely helpful especially for those children who are very interactive. The carrot shouldn’t be an item but rather an experience that they will get to share with mom later on that day; something special like baking cookies together or taking a surprise visit to Grandmother’s house for lunch. The incentive should be presented to the child after the whole shopping experience is over and in a positive light: We had such a wonderful time shopping today, we will now go and spend some fun time with Grandma, baking cookies or whatever the incentive is. This way, the child will relate a positive outing with a positive reward and not relate to it as a bribe.

The goal with preparing yourself to holiday shop with your toddler is to get the job done with as little stress as possible. When mothers are less stressed, children are less stressed and therefore more likely to be willing participants in the whole chaotic shopping experience. With the proper planning, you can turn your holiday shopping with your little one into something fun for both of you!

How to Make the Most of Your Outfits’ Shopping Trips?

Whenever I head to the malls, I look at my overflowing wardrobe to remind myself, though usually fruitlessly, that I must exercise restraint. I do the same, when I browse my favorite websites online. The online stores offer irresistible deals, so this personal resolve weakens there considerably. And, when it’s about sales and discounts – whether online or in the real shops – even the constant reminders fail to work.

I am sure that’s the case with most people, these days. After all, who would say no to the wonders of a nice shopping trip! However, what is important is that this ‘happy’ and ‘adrenaline-pumped, relaxed, de-stressed’ feeling remains (and escalates), even after credit/ debit card swipes.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case – always. Once the colorful stuffed bags are in hands, the ‘happy’ feeling fades, getting replaced by guilt or remorse – for many. There have been instances, when I have instantly regretted a purchase. I have seen women cursing themselves for buying something ‘useless’, as they were influenced by a fellow shopper or coaxed by a pushy shop assistant.

Some just cannot say no! Others decide to cancel, or worse, refuse Cash On Delivery orders. Cancellations and refund requests are a routine affair in the online shopping domain, and most ecommerce portals reel under the pressure created by incessant ‘returns’. Many of us just cannot seem to get the most out of our shopping escapades. And, a wrong shopping decision is not just about wasting the money – it’s also a great burden on our time strapped lives.

Well, here we bring you some tips that will help you make the most out of the time, effort and money spent on every shopping trip you take – in the real or the virtual world.

1. Think of Your Vital Expenses – for the month

This is one thing that I have always seen working for my husband, who always mentally cruises through the current expenses list, before he clicks on the ‘Buy’ button. Start with the expenditures that are waiting payment or processing.

Okay, it may sound like a depressing thing to do at the beginning of a, probably, uplifting shopping cruise, but it does make a lot of sense. You will be reminded of the priorities, so you will end up shopping only for the priority stuff.

2. Don’t Go Shopping (even online) – when in a hurry (or just before a meeting)

The feeling of ‘running around’ makes us stressed and anxious. We may not realize, but any frenetic, frenzied run-through is bound to leave you on your nerves.

Purchases made in such a frame of mind are quite unlikely to fit in the ‘great’ category. Also, we tend not to be our resourceful best, in such a state of mind. Plus, hurrying doesn’t let us look for options. Buying whatever we encounter first, irrespective of quality – especially when it’s something essential (at the moment) – is quite likely in a maniac rush.

That is precisely why planning ahead works well. If you have to make some purchases for some event, occasion, wedding or anything – even a gift – do so in advance, as you are unlikely to get something you ‘really admire’ in a hurried shopping trip. For the same reason, I now even avoid buying groceries and veggies in my lunch hour ‘free-time’. Doesn’t really work well, I realized!

3. Don’t Go Shopping – when angry or hungry (or thirsty)!

Cranky is bad, when shopping. If you are hungry, again you will be in a hurry to wind up the shopping, so you can eat (and drink). So, all we talked about in point 2 – applies here too.

Most women decide to go shopping to beat stress or a bad mood, alright. But, ask these ladies, if they love their purchases made on those ‘seriously-need-a-mood-lift’ trips. The majority of answers will put you off doing this in future. Instead, go for a run, or to a park to play with kids, or simply take a stroll with your favorite music in your ears – to uplift sodden spirits. Shopping is best done, when you are in a balanced state of mind!

4. Make a List

As old-fashioned and clichéd as it sounds, preparing lists really helps in prioritizing and cutting out unnecessary buys.

Contrary to the popular belief, making lists ahead of a shopping trip is not restrictive. Instead, it leans a direction and flow to your trip down the mall or street. And, at the end of it all, who is asking you to ‘not’ buy anything apart from what the list lists. Just start with the most important stuff, or something that you actually need, and then go to the peripheries and extras.

It will also reduce your effort too. I recently needed a new Anarkali, which I forgot, as I entered the mall. I shopped for 2 pairs of shoes, which I don’t regret at all. But, on my way back, I realized I ‘really’ needed the dress for my dance class. Since I was already out, I did not go back to level 4 in the mall – to my favorite store. I bought one from a shop near my home, and I rarely wear that suit now. Get the point?

5. Keep a Time-Limit

Okay, I know it sounds quite contra-indicative to points 2 and 3, but ironically it still makes sense. So, you shouldn’t be hurrying while shopping, but you must also know that you don’t have all the time in the world. Your trip or virtual crawling need not be bound by strict time deadlines, making it impossible for you to ‘breathe’. But, you still must set a stipulated time, when you would need to finish you stroll through the mall.

This will help you prioritize and avoid endless comparisons. It will also save time and efforts, as you will not dilly dally! Still not convinced? Try first and tell us later!

6. Visit your Favorite Stores First

Again it’s about prioritizing. When you start your shopping stroll, you are freshest, perkiest and most sorted. Most of us know, what we want and what we need. So, things are clearer. And thus, it makes sense to head to stores that are your favorites, or where you know the fitting, quality, prices etc. are most suitable for you.

So, instead of mindlessly drifting to the spots nearest to parking area or entrance (like my husband does), or getting enamored by biggest discounts and most vibrant hoardings – first head to your trusted labels. Devote the best part of your shopping trip to the places that are sure to fit your personal bill! Everything can come later.

7. Pay by Cash – whenever, wherever you can…

You know how it works. When we count notes to make payments, we better register – how much we have paid. Plastic money doesn’t let it seep in our mind – unless we see those humongous bills.

8. Don’t Go with a ‘Friend’ – who is too haute, too self-immersed, too cranky, too critical, too rich, too careless – basically ‘too’ anything.

We don’t need such influences, when we are trying to make the most of a coveted shopping trip. That’s the reason, shopping online, when at work, surrounded by colleagues with hundreds of divergent opinions doesn’t work well.

Ask for opinions, suggestions, feedback – but not from someone, you know, would always disagree, or has extremely different likes that your own preferences.

9. Dress up well, wear well-fitting lingerie and good shoes

You will, invariably, end up trying your clothes, so you must know how they will actually look on you, when you are ready to ‘go out’. So, don’t make the mistake of going shopping in flip-flops and shabby undergarments, especially with a shopping agenda to buy something special.

Dressing up well also invites good attention from shop assistants, besides giving you confidence to say ‘NO’ when you want to. Look great, feel sprightly and shop right!

8 Steps To Shopping Thrift Stores – Saving While Looking Professional

I’m cheap. I like bargains. Although I’ve never had the fortitude or willpower to extreme coupon, the idea is intriguing. In the meantime however I save money elsewhere.

Clothes.

Being fashionable is expensive. Good, quality clothing usually comes with sticker shock large enough to knock the wind out of a person. And the trouble with fashion is, once you collect your wardrobe (provided you get past the whooping price tags) and spent your life savings doing so, the damned style changes.

Growing up, we didn’t have much money. Hell, we didn’t have any money. I was the youngest of three daughters (a decade younger to be exact) of a single mom. Nurse’s aides don’t get paid well. They barely get paid enough to eat, for all their back-breaking work. My mom was no different. The pay check simply didn’t stretch far enough to include new, fashionable clothes. I wore decades-removed, hand-me-downs and the primary “department stores” on our clothing agenda was Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, and the spring time yard sales. As a kid I was mortified where my clothes came from. I went to great lengths to conceal the fact. But all those red-faced moments of embarrassment as a kid taught me a thing or two about getting good clothes for next to nothing. So for every time I was a butt at the local thrift store, I want to say, “Sorry, Mom, and thanks.”

Shopping thrift stores is vastly different from shopping regular department stores. You have to go into it with the right mindset. It’s not a single mantra to keep in mind; it’s a set of rules to apply. I’m often asked where I find my outfits, or how did I come up with the idea for the outfit I’m wearing. For me, it’s as easy as a few rules to keep in mind.

Patience. ~ The old adage that ‘patience is a virtue’ is wholly applicable when shopping thrift stores. Unlike a regular department store, where you can dash in and out and get what you need in as quick as it takes to get in and out of the dressing room, shopping a thrift store takes a fair amount of time dedicated to it. You will need to set aside a block of time to go shopping for a good deal. I usually stick with two hours. I plan on my thrift store shopping taking two hours of my day. (Keep in mind that is two hours per store. If you’re going to multiple stores, which may be necessary, you could spend several hours shopping.)

Game Plan. ~ There is nothing wrong with browsing at a thrift store. I do it all the time. Exploring the merchandise to see what’s “new”. Also I encourage you to browse your local

thrift store several times before you intend to buy anything there. Doing so will give you the opportunity to get a feel for the store, the assistance factor of the employees, and the merchandise quality and turn over rate. As for the game plan, know what you’re going for before you get to the store.

Self-restraint. ~ If it’s not in your game plan, don’t buy it. Simple. I’m not saying you should ignore an exceptional bargain (read: the Vera Wang with tags still attached, or the phenomenal party dress when you’re there to buy office clothes), but you should show a little willpower. If it isn’t an absolutely blow your socks off kind of find, you should leave it on the rack.

Know Your Limitations. ~ Clothes that come into most thrift stores end up there for three reasons: a) They no longer fit the owner; b) They’re “out of style”; c) They’re defective. The first two should barely register as blips on your shopping radar. Your body is unique, so the clothing may fit you; and fashion is cyclical. What is “in style” now is irrelevant (except don’t buy those bell bottoms there; they will always be out of style). C however is important; vital even. 1) Never buy stained merchandise. That item has been laundered, probably multiple times since it was stained. You are not getting that out. 2) Don’t buy merchandise that needs extensive alterations. If you suck with a needle and thread and yarn, don’t buy the jeans that need hemmed, the blouse that needs a hole the size of your thumb sewn up in the front hem, or the sweater with a gaping hole in the breast area. Be realistic; if you have never taken an article of clothing to a tailor previously, you probably aren’t going to take that $4 shirt or pair of pants.

Try Everything On. ~ This should be a no-brainer. But, once upon a time when I was still young and impatient (and deluded into believing I was two sizes smaller than I am), I was as

guilty of this as any of you. Clothes vary in size from manufacturer to manufacturer. Also clothing that has been worn and laundered dozens of times stretches and warps. You may think you know your size. Trust me, you don’t when it comes to thrift store shopping.

Compare. ~ I’m not talking about prices. It’s negligible at a thrift store really. I’m talking holding each item up to the other items you’re buying to see if they work together. Know what’s in your closet at home and mentally picture if the item you’re buying will go with your existing wardrobe. Actually it’s no shame to take an item or two into the thrift store and compare them to what you’re getting. I do it all the time. Take all your combinations into the fitting room and mix and match to see what is interchangeable and what isn’t. It’s better than getting a surprise when you get home.

Add Quality. ~ Sometimes you just have to break down and spend the money to buy a few good, quality items for your wardrobe. a) Jeans: I never buy jeans at a thrift store unless I need something to paint the house in or work on the car in. b) Jewelery: you can find nice jewelery at thrift stores, but it is the rarity rather than the norm. c) Underwear: um, just gross. You might be able to get nice, quality bras or something at a thrift store. But make sure they have all their original tags.

Know When to Say ‘No’. ~ If everything about an item doesn’t meet the above criteria, no matter how badly I want it/need retail therapy/need an item to fill a spot for something, I. Don’t. Buy. It.

I’m not a fashion expert. I’m not a shopping expert. I do make fashion blunders from time to time. (More often than I’d like to admit actually.) But more often than not, I am complimented on my clothes. People freak out when they find out 75% of my wardrobe comes from thrift stores. I hear “Oh, I never find anything like that at [insert name of thrift store here] when I go!” This is my answer to how everybody can find the cool things I do.

You know what, disregard. I don’t want everyone looking as superstar as I do!!