What a crazy time it is to be alive at the moment. But we are! And the show will go on.
Times like these bring out the best in people. And the worst unfortunately but let's not be one of those. Let's love and care for and support each other like we always do. Let's be the ones practising excellent hygiene and social distancing to protect the vulnerable from erratic spread of the virus that could put unprecedented pressure on our health care systems. Let's be the ones that don't buy into panic-buying and leave some things on the shelves for our fellow humans - especially nappies and formula etc. Cloth nappies isn't a bad practice to get into if we need to but small babies on formula because they can't breastfeed have no other option and not being able to get formula would be incredibly distressing. And let's be the ones supporting local and not grinding our economy to a halt! You don't need to be stockpiling money like toilet paper! The best thing you can do is get it out there in our circular flow, supporting businesses that deserve it and ensuring their staff and their livelihoods are protected.
So, with online shopping becoming a lot more popular at the moment, and a great way to practice social distancing, we thought it would be timely to offer you some of our tried and tested tips.
You know tip number one. It is something we are so passionate about!
1. Support businesses worth supporting
Firstly, if you're online shopping, make sure you know who you're buying from. Make sure they're doing great things in this world. You don't want to be further lining greedy pockets or supporting superficial people who don't care about the wider community.
Read their about pages, read their blogs, check their social media. Get a real sense of who they are and whether they deserve your hard earned cash. And if they do, give it to them! In full. If they offer a small welcome discount, that's lovely. And please support them because they don't need to do that. But don't shop around looking for bargain basement prices. When you are shopping at 30-50% off you are often shopping at break even or below for those people. Some businesses will do it because they're desperate, or because they're not very good at what they do. But most of them can't sustain it and will exit the market after 1-2 years taking all of those jobs and opportunities for our community with them.
So support great businesses with your dollars and be proud of it! Turn shopping on its head. It's not about getting the lowest price. It's about supporting great businesses and the wonderful people behind them, just as they would for you!
Trust us, online shopping gets SO much easier with time. Because every time you shop you are gathering data and research that will better inform you as time goes on.
All of our staff now know EXACTLY what size they are in every brand, and can identify whether a particular style is running large or small for that brand.
There is no such thing as standard sizing. They all get a little skewed in the manufacture process and different fabrics can affect fit etc. People also prefer things to fit differently!
So when you find fits you like, stick with those brands and styles, or reach out to your friendly retailer and ask for their help! (which is big tip number 3!)
3. Ask for help
Ask your retailers for help! They understand most people shop online because they don't want to contact people for help. They want it to be quick, easy and painless. So most great online retailers ensure their processes for providing you with assistance are just that!
At Miko + Mollie you can ask us questions on our website via instant chat, social media, email, or by calling the store.
Most of the time you will get an instant answer! (unless we are sleep or assisting another customer at the time).
And we know our stock. That's our job! When customers reach out to us for sizing help we rarely ever get it wrong. I think maybe once or twice in 3.5 years!
When asking for help, deal in standard sizes - which size do you wear 9 out of 10 times? - tell us that one, and we will help you get the right size in the style you want, knowing how they fit compared to standard sizing.
For example, if we wear a 12 9 out of 10 times and in this style we wear a 14, then we know this style is running small and will advise you accordingly. We may also know that the reason we went up a size is because we have a bust and this particular garment was a bit tighter than usual at the bust, so we will ask you if you have a small, medium or large bust because it could be the difference between you staying your standard size or going up a size.
We are always thinking of every element of fit and that's why our advice is so good each time. So make sure you're shopping with people who know and understand fit, female bodies and garment construction. They are all important for you to get the right size when we can't assist you in person.
Don't ask for measurements like shoulder to shoulder, chest, hip, waist etc. It's SO subjective! It depends entirely on you measuring your waist, for example, a the exact point that we are measuring the waist on the garment/ourselves when we are trying it on. Most people know generally where a waist is, but for some people that could be a zone of 1-3cm width and they could pick a point anywhere in that zone and confidently consider themselves to be measuring their waist! You see the dilemma here. If you're measuring where you think your waist is, and I'm measuring where I think mine is, aside from the point that our bodies could be very different, there is a chance we will not be measuring the exact same place! And this could mean the measurement we give you is way off and basically useless. I've never trusted this method unless you're actually making a garment specifically for yourself! That's why we use the standard sizing approach and assess any deviations from that standard sizing.
The formula is fool-proof! And the reason we get fit right so easily and often.
4. Take advantage of the fact you're home!
Because you're shopping from home, take your phone or ipad or laptop into your wardrobe and make at least 3 fab outfits with the item/s you're considering buying. Buy with confidence knowing you're going to get your money's worth out of it and that you will love and care for it for years to come. No fast fashion here ladies! Buy well, buy once! That's our motto. Don't buy 4 $30 t shirts that pill and lose colour and stretch out of shape in a few months when you could buy one that will last you 10 years like some of the brands I have in my wardrobe! Better for you, better for the environment, better for the Australian fashion industry! And it's a lot easier to spend that little bit extra with confidence and feel good about it, when you already know you're going to get so much wear from it and it complements your current wardrobe. Sometimes it'll help bring "useless" items together for you and creates new value in those items that have just been sitting there not getting worn! That's why we always suggest this little tactic. Such a great way of shopping.
5. Take advantage of free postage
Postage prices are ridiculous in Australia. Drives me crazy. But most of us will eat into our profit margins to offer you free postage at a level we can support. For us, our minimum order is $150. Below $150 we can't afford to offer you free postage. On most orders below $150 the postage cost would be anywhere from 10-20% of the purchase value (especially with shoes which are heavy and cost an absolute fortune to post).
So where a retailer provides a free postage option have a good think about what you're buying, what they offer and if you need anything else and then take advantage of their free postage.
It's a lot more environmentally friendly as well. Instead of 2 orders over a month or two, having a good think at the time you purchase about what else you may need over the next few months means you avoid paying two lots of postage and save all of the carbon footprint on getting your orders to you twice!
6. Know your delivery network
Understand who delivers your parcels in your area and whether they do so securely. Also, is your property secure if they choose to leave it out the front or in the letterbox? If you can't confidently answer these questions look for extra security in postage options like signature on delivery or insured post. It takes a village to get your orders to you safely and postal workers don't always do the right thing so do your best to protect your delivery if you're not confident your property or the local delivery services are secure.
With COVID-19 a lot of delivery service providers will be trying to avoid contact with you. We are not confident this will be done well across all suppliers and so for now we are highly recommending you sign up for a free Australia Post parcel locker service and have your parcels delivered to a parcel locker that you can collect 24-7 and without contact with anyone (it's all electronic!).
Read more about parcel lockers here.
7. Know your rights and protections so you can shop with confidence
Firstly, your payment methods will often provide you with some form of protection if your item never arrives - so you can shop with confidence. Most stores are 100% trustworthy. But if you have one of those awful experiences where your parcel never arrives and you can't get into contact with anyone at the store, you can hand this over to your payment method to handle for you! Paypal offers buyer protection and will refund your money in line with their policies if your item doesn't arrive. Credit cards offer chargeback processes in which you will also be refunded if the item was not sent. Read up on your specific circumstances and shop with confidence.
Also, check the retailer's returns policy. Most of us will accept returns if you get the item back to us quickly and it's in resaleable condition so no other customer is disadvantaged. Smaller retailers often can't afford to provide money back returns policies instead providing exchange or credit note. This is because they put time and money into handling your transaction with the utmost love and care - they have incurred costs in packaging materials, staff time and postage. And your order is supposed to contribute to paying their overheads like rent, power, water, internet, phone, advertising costs so people actually know about them and what they stock etc. It's an expensive business and most small businesses can't afford to spend all their time and money and have that money fly out the door on a full money back return. This is why they will happily offer credit notes or exchanges because, although they reinvest all of that again in processing the return and sending out your next item, at least they will likely still make a small amount of margin out of the transaction to help cover costs, and they make you happy and hopefully maintain your custom into the future.
Another reason why full money back returns are often not provided by small retailers is to discourage the practice of buying, wearing, returning. Have you ever bought anything from a big store and received it and it's clearly been worn? That's because their returns policies unfortunately attract those sorts of people. So instead of seeing a tighter returns policy as a disadvantage to you, see it as a MASSIVE protection for you, ensuring the quality of the garment/s you receive and the love and care that goes into your transaction.
And at the end of the day, we're PEOPLE. People who have genuine love and care for other PEOPLE. So talk to us if something's gone wrong and most retailer's worth their salt will work with you!
Also, the reason most retailers say no returns (unless in line with legal requirements) on sale stock is because things generally go on sale when we're running them out. If we accept them back weeks later often the chance to sell them has passed us by and they will sit there for months and months after that, getting harder and harder to sell them as they get older. The other reason is we are often selling sale items below cost to clear them out so we just can't afford to cover the costs of initially packaging and posting, and then the returns process which is often even more time consuming than the initial purchase process!
8. Encourage great online service
It's not something we do particularly well here in Australia (online service), so if you find a retailer who does online shopping really well usually a great deal of time, thought and expense has gone into providing you with that experience. So if it's been awesome, TELL THE WORLD! Social media, personally tell your friends and family, etc. If it's been unpleasant or even could be improved slightly, TELL THEM! We welcome feedback at Miko + Mollie. If you don't tell us, we don't know! And we are already exceptional at online service but we want to maintain our position as the best, forever. Which means we are committed to continuous improvement.
9. Remember, they're people too
And they're usually doing their absolute best for you. So treat them with the same love, kindness and respect you would if you were shopping in person. They will be doing the exact same for you. And they actually really welcome interaction because it gets a bit lonely on the other side of online service! Often people in these businesses are people-people. They love people. They got into what they do because they're passionate about people and love making their lives better even in the smallest ways. So often they miss that interaction in an online business. So interact with them, share their posts on social media, comment, chat with them, pass on feedback, they love it! They want to develop a personal relationship with you as much as non-online retailers do so go for it! Make them your best friends! You'll also get the very best from them in return. We've been known to pop little surprises into the parcels of people who touch us with how kind and lovely they are to us. What goes around comes around! Practise kindness, love, respect and support and it comes back to you! And makes the world a much nicer place!
So they are our top tips for online shopping! If we have missed anything drop us a question below and we will answer it for you and incorporate it into our guide! It will no doubt help many others as well!
We love our online community! It's where we started, we do it incredibly well (it's one of the reason's we have grown so fast in our few short years in business) and we constantly get emails and feedback from customers saying what a breath of fresh air our fabulous online service is.
So take advantage of the current circumstances and increase your knowledge and confidence in online shopping and save yourselves the time and money! You know that tip about voting with your dollars and supporting small business even if they're not the cheapest? Well when you process the order from the comfort of your own home you not only save on your own time (which has value you know!) but wear and tear on your vehicle, fuel, parking costs etc. So it's a win-win really!
Give online shopping a go and be pleasantly surprised with how great it is!
Lots of love
Courtney, Sally, Lily, Dani and Ebony xx