How I Ventured to the 'Other Side' of Online Shopping"Where did you get that?" my Mum would ask for ages after I had started. Now she doesn't bother to ask me anymore. My answer used to always be the same: "my best friend, the internet..."
Sometime late 2003 I was staying with a friend in Canada and she introduced me to the amazing world of online shopping. She would look online through pages and pages of clothes and other items on sites like Ebay, Gap and American Eagle. It was normal for her to buy online instead of leaving her house and dragging her toddler around the stores. She was a single mother, so for her it was actually relaxing and enjoyable to shop online.
A few months later when I returned to Australia I bought my very first item online. Like most people who are starting off I dabbled in EBay. I bid on three antique desert bowls with matching plates. They cost me around $8. I was delighted with my purchase, and now they sit in the back of my "good" cupboard. My husband isn't even allowed to touch them.
That was just the beginning. My whole world online has taken a very sharp turn.
Fast forward to late 2009 and I did 95% of my Christmas shopping online. I have a 4 year old and a baby, so trying to do the colossal amount of shopping I needed to, and in a small regional town was most certainly not my idea of fun - quite the opposite. Rather, I perused websites. I drank cups of tea and ate my Lindt chocolate at night finding all sorts of goodies. It was THE BEST Christmas ever for me, not only did I not have to leave my house to search for gifts, I saved money, I staggered my purchases so they didn't all 'sting' me at once, I found some amazing & unique presents and they were delivered to my door! How much easier could it get?
Now imagine how thrilled I was when one of my favourite online kids clothing stores- Charlipop Kids opened a real-live store in my town! I was so excited entering the store for the first time last July - it was like walking on hallowed ground.
I decided to apply for a job there and in January this year I started. Now I am on the 'other side' of online shopping. I work for Ms. Charlipop Kids (Kathryn) to get the orders, pick the clothes, wrap them beautifully and send them. I imagine all the mothers like me waiting for their delivery and then opening it the second they get it and admiring their purchases. Their children (like mine) would be jumping up and down asking "why are the packages always for you?"
I am now also working with Kathryn on her stunning catalogue Shopolat, a brilliant collection of online businesses put together for Mums. The bright and shiny first edition came out in February and is sent out free to everyone on the mailing list. The latest edition just came out and I imagine it will only get bigger & better. I can't wait!
I am hoping this experience on the 'other side' means my whole world online will take another very sharp turn.
* register to be mailed Shopolat, a free catalogue about online shopping
* subscribe to weekly specials newsletters like Mum's Grapevine & Kid's Confidential
* when you find a good site you like, put yourself on their newsletter list to get specials and news updates.
* join facebook pages. You will hear first about good sales, FB only specials and garage sales (the latest craze to hit Facebook - do a search for F.B.G.S)
* checkout the postage rate and make sure you make it worth your while to buy online (don't just buy one item - you usually pay the same rate of postage for multiple items)
* don't forget NZ based websites. The postage is usually surprisingly reasonable, we get a good exchange rate and we are GST exempt
* do a search in Google for something specific. For example, I wanted a 'dinosaur' backpack for my son that I couldn't find in any store in town. I found one online at Dinosaurs Galore and managed to pick up a few other Dino themed toys as well.. AND you will often be surprised just how good the prices online are!
I would like to say I am not obsessed.... but I am definitely addicted.