Nothing has educated mankind faster and deeper than Covid-19. We are now faced with the new normal because most of what we could do pre-Covid could not be done now. Nothing has been spared, even fashion. We could still walk into any fashion store - clothes are still there, but you can see, feel and then pay for whatever you fancy. Fitting rooms are closed. That's the new SOP. But people need to buy clothes, especially during festivals.
Based on our experience with our customers, here, we share some tips on what to lookout for when buying clothes online:
Product Description - This tells you what the design is made of - cotton, crepe, rayon etc. While in the past we could touch and feel the fabric in person, now you have to find out from your researches. The safest is cotton, as we all know how cotton feels and behaves. The rest of the fabric need to be researched on. For example, chiffon is a very soft fabric. If you are buying a chiffon saree, you will need to add a hidden border at the bottom - saree falls - to make sure the saree actually falls! This is because chiffon is a very soft and thin material. If used for dresses or tops, usually lining would be added to give it body. So, imagine a chiffon saree. If you buy one online and expect it to behave like a Georgette saree, you will be in for a huge surprise. So, the product description will tell you a lot about what to expect. Handloom fabrics also would behave differently as they are handmade and may not be something everyone is familiar with. If the fitting says regular fitting, that means the most you can expect is the attire to be one inch bigger than your body, if it says loose fitting, you could probably swim in it!
Product Photos - These are uploaded for a reason. Most websites allow you to see close up by rolling over the photos. Roll your mouse over, check every detail so that you can mould your expectation against what you would be ordering later. Always remember that the lighting at the location of the photograph may cause some colour distortions, so unless you are not willing to accept even a slight change in the colour - look for something black and white, because colour distortions are very least for there two colours. Do remember that whatever looks good on models may not look good on you because usually models are people with good physique. Look out for details in the description - is it regular fitting? Is it a baggy top? it is meant to be short? Some sites, like ours specifies what the model wears, the height of the model etc. This is to give some room for comparison.
Most websites would have a few shots of the same design, to give multiple perspective of the attire. Maximise it. Now, let's look at the model in the picture above. His sleeves are turned up, which means, by default the sleeves may reach mid part of his hand when it is not turned up. The collar design is neck hugging. If you do not like such collar, by all means do not choose this design. This is not regular fit, it is comfortable fit - you can see this from the shoulder. The pyjama pant is quite baggy, if you notice. The eye for details is important when buying online.
3. Size charts - These are there for a reason. `My husband always wears size L, but your clothes are tight for him,' we have had this type of comments from some customers. `Always wears size L' does not mean all size L's across the globe are the same. That is why each site has its own size chart. If you buy clothes from sites like Jaypore, the sizing would be bigger because they cater mainly for the US and European market, if you purchase from CBazaar, their sizing would probably be smaller because they cater for the South Indian and South Asia markets. Bollywood Begum hovers in between - we are the larger sizes of Asian sizes. If you want to check Asian sizes, checkout AliExpress. The models and their designs can be super awesome but may not fit you if you by default wear size M. Their M is the general S because they cater for their own market. So, instead of just choosing from the drop down menu when ordering, check the size chart first. Some sites like ours offer customization - and for a reason. Our intention is to see our customers look good wearing the designs that they have bought from us. So, we allow customization. Besides, those who are on the curvier side may not be able to find clothes suitable for them online without customization. Most online shops either resell or sell pre-made clothes. Only at Bollywood Begum we allow customization for the entire design at no cost.
4. Chat Bots and Social Media sites - Most online shops have chat bots where you can ask questions. If you can't find chat bots, go to the shop's social media page and ask questions. At B.B we respond quite fast though at times we do miss some messages - our apologies. We also provide advise even though the potential customer does not buy from us in the end. Some shops like those at marketplace would like to make quick sale and moe to another customer. We are an online speciality boutique, we would like our customers to return to us for more purchases.
5. Shipping Policy - This is important if you need you attire for a special occasion. Online shops usually take 2 - 4 days to ship out if they have ready stock. At our online shop we commit 7 days because we need to make fresh and ship out; usually ships out by the 4th day but we commit 7 days. Some shops allow self pick up which will be free. Top names like Zara allow in store pick up. At B.B soon we hope to allow in store pick up, too.
6. Return and Exchange Policy - This is equally important because if you do not like something you have bought you need to know if you can exchange - sizes, colour etc. Some shops allow return and exchange within 7 days upon your receipt. These are usually those with ready stock. Most do not offer refund unless they are not able to fulfill your order. At B.B, we too refund if we are unable to fulfill an order. But we do not accept returns or exchanges. The reason is because we make clothes based on order. If someone orders size L, we would make new clothes in that size and ship out. If the customer finds the clothes tight or short, we can alter for them free of charge but they need to return the item to us. Some customers tear the clothes in the process of trying - yes, we do offer repair service, free, for one time. But we would ask them to send a photo to gauge the area where the issue is and suggest size of alteration. If the customer is agreeable we would do the alteration and send back - shipping on us.
Here are the key takeaways if you want to buy clothes online:
Familiarise yourself with the way fashion business is done online. Buying in store is not the same as buying online.
Check what you like inside out based on the available information, then decide on the item.
Check shipping - how many days before you can expect your item.
Ensure you are aware of their return and exchange policies.
In the next part we would advise on how to try on clothes bought online. We have cases where customers tried to rip open tight buttons because they were not familiar with special designs and in the process damage the clothes!