Ask A St. Louis Expert: Tips On Finding Deals Shopping Online

August 19, 2014 7:00 AM

Electronic payment concept

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Charlotte Robinson has worked in retail for more than 17 years. With all of that experience and passion for the clothing industry, she has acquired a few bargain shopping skills, as you might imagine. She currently works for Chico’s FAS in Lake St. Louis at the Meadows Shopping Center and loves her job. Chico’s combines great merchandise, personalized service and great online bargains which helps this retail professional, with a passion for sales and costumer contact in her DNA, live the retail dream, every day.
Charlotte Robinson
Store Manager, Chico’s FAS
Meadows Mall at Lake St. Louis
11 Meadows Circle Drive, Suite 428
Lake St. Louis, MO 63367
(636) 561-3353

After working in retail management for more than 17 years, there is little Charlotte Robinson doesn’t know about finding the best deals in the clothing industry. Her current position, as manager at Chico’s FAS in Lake St. Louis, keeps her hopping as working retail can mean long and varied hours, serving her customer base. While she spends the bulk of her time inside a brick and mortar boutique, she also knows that purchasing trends have expanded to online shopping, via the Internet. Most successful clothing stores, independent boutiques as well as national chains have incorporated this customer convenience into their business plan, and Charlotte has a few tips for shoppers who want to get the most out of their shopping experience while browsing from the comfort of their own homes.

Have A Plan

Planning your wardrobe is easier when you begin shopping from home. As many shoppers are attempting to stretch their clothing budgets as far as possible, it’s a good idea to go online to scope out the season’s current trends. This enables shoppers to plan and coordinate wardrobes for the upcoming season and, perhaps, co-mingle pieces in existing wardrobes. What are this season’s trending colors? Where are the hem-lines falling? Are belts in this season? Spending some time browsing the website of favorite stores can help to get a handle on just which pieces are must haves for your closet and may eliminate costly impulse purchases.

Check The Return Policy Before You Buy

Shopping online can make some a bit apprehensive, especially if fit is a worry. Most have experienced buying one size in their favorite store, only to find sizing may be quite a different experience at their next favorite boutique. After all, you don’t have the luxury of trying it on until it is delivered to your home. So, make sure when shopping online that you read about or contact customer service regarding the return policy for your purchases. Most online retailers include a return shipping label for your convenience, but Charlotte recommends bringing the items back to a close-by store location if turnaround time is an issue. That way you avoid shipping charges and often substitutions can be made or ordered, immediately, right from the store. At Chico’s, items ordered at the store, if particular styles are not available on the floor, are shipped to the customer for no additional charge.

Don’t Count On Long-Term Availability

Most who have become familiar with online shopping are very familiar with the “shopping cart.” While browsing, filling your shopping cart is a great way to make tangible lists of your seasonal purchases, because you can always go back and order it when you are good and ready. Or can you? As Charlotte points out, it’s important to note that placing an item in the shopping cart does not necessarily guarantee the item will be there when you are ready to pull the trigger on the purchase. In the clothing industry, trends change from season to season, and buyers of big chains and smaller boutiques only buy inventory they believe they can move in a reasonable amount of time, so waiting too long before finalizing the sale may just leave you without this season’s hottest trend in swimsuits or evening wear. The deal isn’t done until you finalize the order.

Related: Best Vintage Clothing Shops In St. Louis

What About Identity Theft?

Online shopping is fast, convenient and secure, right? Well, most of the time, yes, but not always. With the recent news about major chains experiencing issues with internet hacking, it leaves one a little skittish about risking personal banking and credit card information for that must-have pair of jeans or cute pair of peep-toe pumps. Charlotte has, through personal experience, developed a strategy to curb online shopping risks. After suffering identity theft herself, she learned that she could still enjoy the benefits of online purchasing without compromising her personal credit card by buying a prepaid VISA. Anyone can purchase these prepaid cards for a small fee of about $3 each. Since there is a limit to how much that can be loaded on a card, a breech of security will limit a hacker’s ability to max out your credit and it’s also a great way to stick to a clothing budget, since you have to mindfully set a spending limit. Cards can be reloaded at any time, and she sees the $3 fee as a great insurance policy against an intrusion of personal financial information.

Think Twice Before Paying For Expedited Shipping

At certain times of the year, like Christmas, paying for expedited shipping may be crucial to assure packages arrive at their destination on time, but other times of the year may not require the added expense. Most of the time, online orders can be filled and delivered within three to five days, eliminating the need for additional costs to your order. Charlotte also recommends calling the store and asking them to place the order for you. Chico’s offers free shipping to its customers, and other retailers may also do the same.

Related: Best Lingerie Stores In St. Louis

Lisa Payne-Naeger, a native of the St. Louis area, is a freelance writer, blogger, political activist and a homeschooling mother of two children. Her work can be found at

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