Sunday, February 5, 2012

Online shopping guide: ebay, Amazon, online shops

Hey everyone!

A few days ago, I had a conversation on Twitter with some greek beauty bloggers about Ebay. After hours of talking about online shopping, we came to the conclusion that most greeks are not even slightly familiar with it and shop everything they need in actual shops, but that can sometimes be many times pricier than shopping online.

The thing is, Greece is now experiencing major difficulties in its economy. Crisis has hit us hard and our finances don't allow us to go for crazy shopping sprees and we can spend only a limited amount of money for shopping.

I also know that most of my friends, relatives and just acquaintainces in general, don't know how to shop online. They may be afraid of the "dangers" of shopping that way, or they are used to go and see the product with their own eyes before buying it, just to make sure it's genuine. By seeing me shop online, they are always curious, feel excitement that there are these prices out there, but also feel really bad they don't or even can't do it themselves.

I should also say here, that I buy most of my makeup and a great amount of clothing and accessory items online. I find it cheaper, there is a greater variety of choices than in greek shops and of course, more relaxing as I do it from the comfort of my own home. I also live in the suburbs and there are literally no shops here and  distance to stores has always been a pain in the bum. The most important part, is that I can compare prices between shops really easily. Being a smart consumer means buying everything you want in the best quality, price and way possible.



So, after the loooooong intro I should also mention a few things.

This is a guide for a complete newbie to online shopping, someone who has NEVER shopped online. I will mention some online shops I buy from and some information about each one. If you know some of the websites or feel confident with shopping online, or you are even pros in it, please bear with me. I don't claim to be a pro, but I shop online for a few years, for the last two I buy almost everything online and I consider myself a keen shopper. I have done a lot of research and you may even find a couple of things you didn't know here! Also, this is for my Greek readers mainly, but everyone else can get a couple of tips, too!

This is a tag post called WILOL(What I Learn OnLine), I know some greek bloggers will post today or have already posted. Greek beauty bloggers will also post every tag on their website, so check it out for more info and links. There are already some online shops mentioned there, linking to each shop. This is a really helpful tag, beneficial for everyone!



BEFORE SHOPPING





CARDS


You must have a debit/credit card. Most of greek e-shops offer the "payment on delivery" method, but for every other online shop in the world, that is not the case. If you don't like the idea of using credit cards or you aren't comfortable with shopping with a card that is linked to your bank account, get a prepaid card. Note that every time you add money to a prepaid card, you have to pay a small fee. I think for most banks here in Greece it's 1-2.




PAYPAL

Paypal is the only payment option for eBay purchases and it's a payment option in most e-shops. It's the safest way to shop. Just go to the paypal website and make an account, linking your debit/credit card or your bank account to your account on paypal. It's very simple and you won't have to worry about someone stealing your money off your card every time you use it. My advice: use it wherever possible!






CUSTOMS

Customs in Greece are rubbish. The tax-free limit according to the latest law is 22 including shipping for commercial purposes (business to individual) and 45 including shipping for non-commercial (individual to individual). I have heard about the limit being 100 US Dollars, but that was an unofficial thing between those who worked at customs few years ago. If your items' price is more than that, you will have to pay either 3 and get your items from your local post office or pay a calculated fee that depends on the price of the items and get them from Eleftherios Venizelos airport (this is for the Athens region, I don't know where you get it from if you live elsewhere in Greece). They charge very unreasonably in my opinion and most of the times, the actual items you bought cost less than the customs fee.
Your items won't be held at customs if you shop on websites or from sellers based in EU and you won't be charged anything.
Check how your items will be delivered to you. If the delivery service is UPS, DHL, FedEx etc,  they will be held at customs if they cost more than 22 (or 45). USPS for purchases from US and EMS from Asia are the best options, you will probably just pay €3 Usually, your items won't being held at customs if you are careful. Nothing works right there, depending on your luck, everything is possible! If you contact the seller, he can mark it as a gift and/or state that it costs less. However, if the box is super big or very heavy, they'll have it checked and you'll then have to pay the fee.





TRY IT OUT

If you have found something you like online, but don't know how it will look on you, go to a shop and try it out (if you can find this item in your area). If it's makeup, try it on your skin and ask for a sample to see how it works on you. Look for quality, smell, concistency, pigmentation. If it's clothes, try it on and find your exact size. Feel the materials, seams and textures. If it's shoes, walk a while in them in the shop to see if they are comfortable and find the exact size.
Sizings differ in every part of the world, you can find some charts online where you can covert everything, but all the clothes/shoes labels have all the different conversions already on them. Just make sure you have everything written down correctly! Shops like Forever21 or the ASOS brand have standard sizing like Zara or H&M.

If the clothing item/shoes is not available in your area, ask the seller for exact sizes and measurements. Don't be afraid to make questions. It's their job to assist you and they want you to be satisfied with their service.





SWATCHES/REVIEWS

Some makeup brands aren't available in shops here in Greece, like NYX or ELF, therefore you can't try them on you before buying them. There are many blogs and youtube channels that do reviews and swatches for products. Google is your friend, just type the name of the product and you'll find everything. You can't make a lot by just some pictures, but they are very helpful.
A great website where a lot of people write their opinion of a makeup product in a few sentences and upload  swatches of it, is makeupalley. Type the name in the search section and see what others think about it. Everything is listed and rated. I really recommend it!





RESEARCH IS EVERYTHING & DON'T BUY UNECESSARY THINGS


Don't buy something because the website says it's a great deal or they have reduced the price to half! Do some research, you may find the same product cheaper somewhere else.
Also don't buy stuff just because they look cute or they cost nothing. Will you ever use them? Make a list of things you want to buy and you really need and work on that. Spend your money on something you will often use.





NOW WE SHALL SHOP






http://www.ebay.com/
What to buy: Everything you can imagine, can be found here.
What I buy: I like jewelry shopping on ebay, it's extremely cheap! I've bought most of my jewelry for 1-2$ a piece and I always get compliments! I have seen a lot of scams recently by greek eshops who claim to be selling handmade jewelry, but in reality they buy them on ebay from asian sellers and sell them 10 times their price. Beware!!!
I don't tend to buy clothes, bags and shoes on ebay, but I have sometimes in the past and everything turned out to be great. Also, I don't buy MAC,Nars and high-end makeup in general. There are a lot of fakes on ebay and when I find a decent seller, the price is about the same with shops here. FYI, MAC doesn't make these! Never has, never will.

I buy drugstore makeup on ebay, like Revlon. Revlon products in Greece cost way more than in US(lipsticks around 12 euros and foundation 20 euros) My fav seller sells lipsticks and some nail polish for a fraction of that. You can ask him for a specific shade if it's not available, he will probably have it in a few days time :)
I also like to buy professional nail polish brands on ebay. OPI ones cost around 15 euros in Sephora, but I find them around 8 euros on ebay and Essie retails for 6 euros here. I shop mostly from this seller. The only problem is, stocks don't last for ever and you may not even find the color you saw yesterday.

Some extra info: Look at the seller's feedback. Is he a top rated seller? How many negative ratings has he got in the last months and for which items? Also, if you are not satisfied with the product or even worse, you waited for 2 months and it hasn't arrived, contact the seller as soon as possible. He will either send you a replacement or your money back. If he doen't reply back or you don't work it out as hoped, contact ebay.

Bidding: I have done some, but it seems I can find everything I want in the Buy Now section, for the price I want. There are some programmes designed to get your bid on the last nanosecond, so you can win the auction. I haven't tried that and honestly, I have no time to check if they're worth it.



http://amazon.com/


Amazon.com mostly delivers by DHL, and customs are included in the final price. For example, for a Kindle you will just pay whatever the total is on checkout, without having to worry about customs, because it's already included.
Except for the standard amazon service,there are sellers here too, exactly like ebay, but I've noticed that the delivery costs are huge, for Greece at least. You have to be extra careful to choose the right seller in the best price possible.
My advice is to shop from the UK or German website if you live in Europe, so you won't have any customs charges, however some items can only be purchased and delivered from the US one (like Kindle).


What to buy: Makeup, hair products, skincare products, perfumes, GHD hairstylers. Cheaper drugstore products like Maybelline. Some of the brands are hard to find in Greece, like Caudalie and Crabtree&Evelyn. Hint: Great mens section too. Calvin Klein underwear here is cheaper than greek shops.
Shipping: Free worldwide for orders over 15. 



http://www.lookfantastic.com/
What to buy: Makeup, skincare products, hair products. I find it quite similar to feelunique, but I think the range of products and brands is bigger. I like lookfantastic's sales and offers! The same goes for HQHair, because these two are sister eshops, but HQHair carries more high end brands.
Shipping: Free worldwide.




http://allbeauty.com/

What to buy: Perfumes, obviously. Here in Greece they cost much much more, even on sale. There's not every single brand and perfume available, but you can find many, like Lancome, Burberry and so on. I really like the (limited) cosmetics section, too. They have frequent offers and sales on the already reduced prices, so get the newsletter! Great customer service, they reply almost immediately and they are very friendly.
Shipping: For Greece, it's around 10€ per order.





http://strawberrynet.com/

What to buy: Makeup, skincare products, hair products, perfumes. Many brands available. I really like the limited edition or discontinued items you can find here, I feel so happy when I find them! Great sales every now and then. I love the packaging, who wouldn't love a free cute gift wrapping?
Shipping: Free wordlwide, except for perfumes.




http://www.iherb.com/
What to buy: Vegan products, pharmaceutical brands, vitamins, every oil in the planet and makeup brushes. I love this website! The brands are mostly american, completely unknown to us Greeks. I love , Madre Labs, Giovanni and of course Ecotools and Real Techniques brushes! They cost so little, plus everything is in US dollars, so yay for convertion rates! Hint: If you use crystal deodorants, there are some great here. I know in Greece cost like 10 euros or something. Use the code PEC936 on checkout for  10$ off on your first purchase if your order is over 40$ or 5$ off if it's under 40$.
Shipping: $2-$17 depending on weight (it must not exceed 1.82 kg), but there is a 50% off shipping fees if your order is over $20.




http://www.asos.com
What to buy: Clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, makeup. I like the ASOS clothing/shoe brand, but I also love others that are often featured here, like Cheap Monday, New Look, Ted Baker. The selection of accessories and jewelry is also great! It's a UK based website, so you'll find makeup brands like Barry M, Rimmel, Eylure and Models Own. Sadly, Soap&Glory and Benefit products can't be delivered to Greece. Lovely sales and offers, make sure you get their newsletter and like the facebook page for more inside info.
Shipping: Free worldwide for orders over 25





http://www.topshop.com

What to buy: Clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup. The UK brand has an eshop that delivers worldwide (finally). I love the clothes, but the Topshop makeup is pretty amazing too, try the lipsticks!
Shipping: £6 for Greece








http://www.forever21.com/EU/Product/Main.aspx?br=f21

What to buy: Clothes, shoes, accessories. There are no Forever21 shops in Greece, so I was happy when they launched a Europe website. Amazing sales, lovely clothes and jewelry! I have only shopped in sales, so I'm pretty satisfied! Unfortunately, I recently found out that they don't have the greatest customer service. There is no email provided on their website in order to contac them, just a number for calling specific hours of the day. Also, you can't contact them through facebook or Twitter. Why is that Forever 21?
Shipping: 6 Europe Standard.



http://www.theoutnet.com
What to buy: Clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry. Amazing outlet eshop packed with creations of well known designers, like Alexander MacQueen, Herve Leger and Zac Posen. The child of another great online shop, net-a-porter. Yes, everything is pricey, but you can find some great deals and offers.
Shipping: £7.50 + tax with DHL




http://www.fragrancedirect.co.uk/
What to buy: A wide selection of perfumes and cosmetics. Amazing deals from time to time, so sign up to their newsletter to be in the know. Generally, I've found it really hard to navigate in the website, use the search option to make your life easier.
Shipping: It depends on where you live, for Greece it's £6.99 per order.






http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/
What to buy: Books! I'm a book worm and in Greece, books can be very expensive, especially the ones that are translated in Greek. I only read books in English though and this website has everything I want. Plus, I get everything delivered for free.
Shipping: Free worldwide!





SUPPORTING THE LOCAL ECONOMY



I get asked very often the same thing, if I support Greece and our economy in general, by shopping online. I don't shop in the websites mentioned exclusively (that clearly aren't greek). I love greek brands. Especially for skincare, Korres are my absolute favourites and I've used everything for years and years, so I shop in online pharmacies as well. I don't have a specific one that I love because I always buy from the cheapest available.

I always use skroutz or bestprice. They're websites that compares price of online stores based in Greece. We're talking about electronics, games, books, everything is in there. The most important part, is that we get to see little shops that don't have the funds to get advertised as the giant companies, but they always have better prices and service! 








Cash-back

For me, shopping online is an addiction. I shop very frequently online, so it's nice to get a little something back from the money I spend.
There are some websites that for each purchase you make, they give you a percentage of the sum you spent back! The only thing you have to do, is to sign up and follow the link they give you to the website you choose. They track that you were sent from their website, and they send you money back, most of the times on your Paypal account. I use 2 of them right now.

Ebates is a great cash back website. It's got mostly American brands, so Europeans might not find it so helpful. But, I've found that it offers cash back from many retailers that ship worldwide like Amazon, Strawberrynet and ASOS!

Quidco is another great website with amazing cash backs. Here you can find many British retailers and eshops like Feelunique and Lookfantastic! 

These websites also offer discount coupons as well. Of course, there are not only beauty and fashion retailers in there, but also electronics, books, hardware, anything you can shop!


How do you get the cash back?
First you go and sign up an account on the websites. Then, search for a retailer you like.

Example: I want to buy stuff at ASOS. I'll search for the ASOS website on Ebates.



I will click the SHOP NOW to go to the website. This message should appear on the screen.


 My visit is now tracked and I'm sent to the ASOS website where I'd shop as I would normally do.



If there are coupon codes and you are interested in using one of them, simply choose the option and use the code on checkout on the eshop.



The exact same thing goes for Quidco, which for me is even more convenient because they have most of the European based online stores, like Feelunique.

COUPON CODES


When I shop online, I always try to use some extra online coupon code, if the cash back websites don't give me any. These codes either give you a certain percent off your puchase, free shipping or even a little freebie! I'm such a sucker for these stuff.



http://www.retailmenot.com
Retailmenot is just lovely. You can find discount codes for almost any store you can imagine!



http://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk
Again, I use this for the retailers in the UK that I haven't found in Retailmenot. Works equally fantastic.






I  hope you'll find something helpful in here!  Feel free to ask me anything!





28 comments :

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