Tips for Buying Shoes Online from a Serial Shoe Returner

As I have mentioned before, I am trying to build up a more polished and professional wardrobe.  In building up my wardrobe, I’ve started to shop online a lot more.  With online shopping, on top of a great sale, I’ve got the entire warehouse inventory at my finger tips, and I can usually find online promotion codes with a quick Google search.

Some of you may recall my post where I ordered 10 pairs of shoes online.  Well, I did it again :).  Below is my spreadsheet (click to enlarge) that I use to track my purchases and returns.  This time, I ordered 10 pairs (again!), and kept one pair, so far.  I am still awaiting my last pair of shoes to arrive (*fingers crossed*).

Why So Many Pairs of Shoes?

If I were to go into a store and find a pair of shoes, I usually try on about 3 or 4 pairs.  Out of those 3 or 4 pairs, there may or may not be a winner.  And as we know, with sales and clearance items, the inventory at each store changes so often, that maybe the person just before you walked away with your shoe soul mate.

So, the way I see it, instead of going to the store to try on the shoes, the shoes come to me, and I get a much better selection of styles and sizes.  Some styles are only offered online, or certain styles may not be carried in all stores.

I’m Picky

I used to not wear high heels because they hurt my feet, then I didn’t like flats because there usually wasn’t enough arch support.  What I didn’t realize until recently is that heels can be (somewhat) comfortable, and flats can be even more comfortable.  It all depends on your shoe and how it fits your feet.

After buying so many pairs of shoes that were just kinda “okay”, I think I’ve come up with a fairly good checklist of my “must haves” when buying a pair of shoes.

Frugirl’s “must have” for heels:

  • leather, suede, or a comfortable material which does not hurt my feet
  • heel height between 2″ – 3″
  • classic shape
  • cushion for balls of feet
  • must not slip off
  • $100 – $150 or less

Frugirl’s “must have” for flats:

  • leather, suede, or a comfortable material which does not hurt my feet
  • have a solid and cushioned sole
  • have good arch support
  • must not be a “boxy” shape (emphasizes my already wide feet)
  • no frills or bling at the toe
  • $100 – $125 or less

Some Tips

A lot of what I learned is through trial and error (as with most things in life).  And, sometimes, you don’t know how a good shoe is supposed to feel until you’ve tried one.  When you find that special shoe, it really is love! 🙂

In-Store pick-up

Two of the shoe retailers I recently bought from are Soft Moc and Aldo.  Both these retailers have a free shipping option where you can pick up the shoes at a store location.  I prefer to have my shoes shipped to the store locations, so that I can try them on, return the ones that don’t work out, and just bring home the ones that fit me for further evaluation.

You usually have to make a trip to the store to return some shoes anyway (they never all work out for me), so why not save yourself some work.  Trust me, lugging back eight pairs of shoes to return is definitely not cool.

Return Policy

Always, always be very familiar with the return policy of where you are shopping (online or elsewhere).  I suggest reading the return policy prior to every check-out, because you never know when a store decides to change their return policy.  I pay extra attention to the return policy of sale or clearance items.

I also like to check that the refund is made in the original form payment, as opposed to a store credit.  The store credit may not be a big deal if you shop at that retailer often, but I just like to have the cash in my hand, as soon as I return an item.

Most of the retailers I shop at allow in-store returns; however, if in-store returns are not possible, make sure you are clear on who pays for the return shipping.  If you are responsible for paying the return shipping, know the cost, and perhaps re-evaluate if this purchase is still worth it.

Test out your Shoes!

This might be a no-brainer, but always give your shoes a good test run before taking them outdoors.  Most return policies give you up to 30 days (sometimes 45 –  90 days for online purchases) to return.  And as we all probably found out the hard way, standing in a pair of cute heels for 5 minutes in the store, can be very different than wearing them all day.

Since my work place is carpeted, I like to bring my “test” shoes to work with me, and walk in them for a day or two.  Make sure you’re careful not to walk outside or get them dirty, or else you can’t return them.

Other Thoughts

One of my friends told me that my behavior (returning a lot of items) doesn’t really “jive” well with retailers, as they are losing money from my returns.  I don’t really agree with this, as I mentioned that if I were to buy this item in a store, I would have to try it on, as well.  The only difference is that I now have purchased the item first, and then tried it on.  In fact, my argument is that it probably requires equal or less effort/cost to ship an order from a warehouse and process the return, than to have the expenses of  running a storefront and paying for your employees (cashier, changeroom, etc.) for the same result – making the sale.

Readers, what are your experiences with online shopping and returning items?  What are your thoughts regarding my “serial returns”?



Filed under Budget, Fashion

11 responses to “Tips for Buying Shoes Online from a Serial Shoe Returner

  1. mochiandmacarons

    If you bought those Frye flats in a 7, return them. You need at least a 6.5 in their sizing, maybe a 6. They stretch like mad in about 2 weeks.

    I bought 6.5 and I had to put 2 heel pads in the back.

    • Oops. That’s a typo, I actually ordered the Frye flats in size 6 from your previous recommendation. The store that I returned them to, did not carry Frye’s, but when I tried them on at another location, the arch support wasn’t enough for me. And they were still $140 on sale!!

  2. Girl. That is craaaazy. O_O;
    I don’t like to shop for shoes let alone welcome 10 pairs into my home. I can see and understand your points but…. nuh uh. O_O;

  3. This is really smart- I especially love your spreadsheet tracking! I’ve returned 100% of the shoes I’ve purchased from Zappos, but I continue to buy from them because they have the best selection and customer service. One of these days they’ll keep my heard-earned money, and in the meantime I tell everyone how much I love them.

    • Thanks, Jessica!

      This spreadsheet snapshot is only a small portion of my overall shopping tracking spreadsheet. 🙂 This is the way that has worked best for me when I go on these shopping binges, so I can make sure I return all the stuff that doesn’t fit.

  4. That spreadsheet is a thing of beauty! I am a serial returner as well. if something doesn’t fit right or rubs the wrong way, you bet I’ll be returning it before I eat the money for something I won’t actually use!

  5. Pingback: Links & Snippets | A Gai Shan Life

  6. I love the spreadsheet! The perfect pair of shoes is already so hard to find, so if this is what it takes, then more power to you.

  7. fashioNY

    I am a little behind on reading this post, but I always use the app Fashion Girl Problems when debating what size shoes to order. You put in your size, the designer (there are lots) and the type of shoe (which is good because I’ve found even with the same designer I fit differently in a pump than a flat), and then it recommends a size for you. And it tells you why (they run narrow, they aren’t carried in that size, etc.). Pretty helpful!

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