We have all done it, you sit down to check your inbox and surprise! It's filled with offers from online stores; free shipping, 30% off, new merchandise. The next thing you know two hours have gone by and you haven't found a thing or you found too much. You have just experienced what it is like to be sucked into the online shopping black hole. Don't get me wrong I love online shopping, the expediency, the convenience, the selection, it can't be beat, but if you go into the void unprepared who knows when or what you will come out with. Just like shopping in the stores it is important to have a strategy when shopping online. Here are few things to keep in mind before you start opening those e-mails or aimlessly browsing.
1) Know what you are looking for : Keep a running list of items you would like to add to your wardrobe, the list can be a slip of paper or a note on your cell phone. Searching for specific items is much easier and less time consuming than looking in general and waiting for something to jump out at you. The list will also make it easy to say no to those offers in your inbox; outwear 60% off, but wait it's not on you list, delete.
2) Use Shopping Search Engines: Narrow down the online shopping black hole by using search engines specifically designed to search multiple online e-tailers at once. A couple of shopping search engines to try would be Shopstyle.com and Boutiques.com. Both allow you to search by terms or use the filters to narrow down by price, color, brand, etc... Remember the more specific the better, it will save you time flipping through pages of pants that aren't in the color or style you want. You can always make your search more general if you come up with nothing.
3) Go Through Your Inbox: Take a long hard look at the e-mails in your inbox before you compulsively delete the ones of no interest. Here's why, you might be getting offers from stores you shopped with once and swore off for whatever reason, partner e-mails from sites you signed up with, promotional offers, on and on. If you don't shop at the stores that keep e-mailing you, don't just hit delete, unsubscribe. It might take a few minutes to find that link in the e-mail, but they all have it guaranteed. Take yourself off the mailing list of stores you don't have any interest in this way you are not tempted to peruse their website just because you got an e-mail. Temptation eliminated.
4) Set A Timer: The final preventative measure in saving your time from being gobbled up by the online shopping monster is to set a timer. Even if you have followed steps one and two, it is still very easy to get caught up in the thrill of the hunt, can't find that green skirt, just going to check one more site, that one site could easily turn into ten. Time flies when you are on the computer. Follow my lead and set a timer, not just a time limit (which could easily be brushed off), but a timer, the more annoying sounding the better. The kitchen timer, a timer on your phone, whatever. Set it for a time you feel confident that you could find what you are looking for; I am looking for one pair of boots, 30 minutes. Now here's the trick do not, I repeat do not, place the timer next to you. Place it across the room, even better in another room as long as you can hear it. The point is that you have to get up to shut it off, by getting up you are breaking the online trace and becoming aware of how much time has passed.
If you follow these steps you are sure to be a more efficient, time savvy, online shopper, go forth and hunt out your next wardrobe find. P.S. Also be forgiving of yourself if you occasionally spend more time online shopping than planned, we are after all only human and when you want red pointed flats in a size 5 you just have to find them (umm yeah).