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Why I place rather large online clothing orders

In the past, I haven’t been a big online clothing shopper.   I like to be able to try things on and give multiple sizes a shot.

Because sizing…..oh man, it’s such an inconsistent thing. I have a lot of different sizes in my closet that all fit me the same!

And it’s annoying to place an online order, discover the size is wrong, do an exchange, and hope that the new size you ordered is good.

A while back, it occurred to me that I was doing this all wrong.

Why was I ordering just one item?

Why not order several different sizes and colors and just send back the things that weren’t a good fit?

So, that’s what I do now, as long as I’m ordering from a place that offers free returns.

If I’m wondering whether a 4, 6, or 8 will be the best fit, I order all three.

If I’m waffling between two colors, I order both.

When it was time to get a swimsuit for Sonia this year, I ordered about 6 different suits from Lands’ End kids (they have slims! In big kid sizes!), knowing full well that we’d only keep one.

As it turned out, the suit she most thought would fit didn’t, and one of the others that we threw in last minute ended up being the right size.

I did the same thing when I was swimsuit shopping this year. I ordered a ton of different suit tops and bottoms from Athleta, learned a lot about what fits me and doesn’t fit me with their brand, and kept one top and one bottom.

And I mentioned yesterday that I do this with ThredUp as well.

(In one order, I ended up getting this very unfabulous pink dress, which I summarily sent back. Yay for returns!)

A lot of online clothing retailers offer free return shipping (yay!) and some that don’t do still allow for free in-store returns.

For instance, shipping Sonia’s suits back to Lands’ End wouldn’t have been free, but I was able to take them to a local Lands’ End shop inside of Sears and do a free return.

And ThredUp allows you to do free returns as long as you opt for store credit.

thredup box

A really great benefit of placing a large order? You end up hitting the minimum order amount for free shipping! So then you get free shipping on the delivery + free shipping on the way back.

It’s like having a handy, no-extra-charge fitting room right in your own home.

Once this occurred to me, it seemed rather obvious! But since it didn’t occur to me for a while, I’m going to hazard a guess it hasn’t crossed some of your minds either.

So. Make a big order! Give yourself options! And then send back whatever you don’t want to keep.

P.S. The only thing is, you have to be willing to do the work of handling the return process. So, if you know you’re the sort of person who will put this off and forget about the return until it’s too late, it’s probably not the shopping technique for you.

P.P.S. I always pay for my online purchases with a rewards credit card (usually our Southwest card) and I also go through TopCashBack whenever possible as well.   Every little bit helps!


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Sunday 20th of August 2017

Such a good idea! I do this with shoes for me because most shoe stores don't actually carry my size (narrow) and one brand's narrow is someone else's slim and another brand will be so wide I walk right out of them.


Sunday 13th of August 2017

In Germany studies have shown that every return costs the retailer between 5 and 10 Euros (depending on the product)- also only a quarter of returned items can be resold at full price. Since the retailers will have to tolerate this shopping behavior because they fear social media complaints prices just rise for everyone


Friday 11th of August 2017

Great article - my shopping habits have changes so much as my family has grown, and it just isn't convenient to shop in person very often any longer. Online stores like ThredUp are a great alternative to allow re-use of clothing that is in great condition. Until recently, I hadn't paid too much attention to whether a store provides free returns - good tips and thanks for sharing!


Friday 11th of August 2017

Somebody has to be processing all these returns and that adds up to a lot of additional labor costs on top of all the shipping and material costs. Small businesses already have a hard time competing with the giants because customers are demanding free shipping and now free returns. Now there are people using the return policies to get the free shipping. Don't be too surprised if some companies start subtracting the shipping fee from the return amount when the item(s) returned are what made the original order eligible for free shipping. Some companies can absorb the costs with the hopes of retaining customers but others will not be able to do so. Companies do not track how many returns a customer does for the fun of it. It is a real problem that many places are struggling to figure out how to handle without alienating what they consider to be their good customers. At some point if too many people start over buying with the intent to return most of the order, we'll see some combination of higher product prices, higher limits to get free shipping, no free returns (even to a local store), and/or fewer businesses to order from.


Friday 11th of August 2017

I personally wouldn't order more than I want to keep or to just get free shipping with the intent on returning items mostly just because this simply causes more work for others. More packaging, more labor hours, and more fuel is needed to get those items back to where they belong. I do have a hard time ordering for my kids, but I just order what I think they can wear and then exchange them in the store if they don't fit. I rarely if ever buy from somewhere that doesn't have an actual store for me to exchange the item. I also know that if I go to exchange, the item I brought back is put back on the floor to sell without having to wonder if it gets donated or damaged out of stock. Everyone has to do what they feel comfortable with but having worked in retail for over 15 years, I don't feel it's right to buy too much stuff knowing that I'm going to return most of it whether it's in the store or online.

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