It seems like every time I have logged into Facebook in the past month I have seen a sponsored ad from a clothing company by the name of SammyDress. The ad, which features a model in a cream dress with cute buttons down the side, boasts thousands of likes and comments. The ad seems to have really done it’s job because hundreds of women have gone to the website and purchased the dress. How do I know? Upon reading the comments on the ad, I discovered that none of these customers ever received their dress (or any items their purchased from the website) and are now struggling to contact a seemingly non-existent customer service. What’s more worrisome is that this is not an unusual situation, there are dozens of shopping sites on the internet that consistently frustrate shoppers with unusual and secretive business practices, this site just has a better marketing plan than the rest. So, how can you avoid unnecessary stress and potential loss of money while still enjoying the convenience of online shopping? I would like to share an insider’s perspective on the online shopping market to keep you safe and happy through your shopping experience.
Beware of Cheap Wholesale Fashion Sites
As an online retail boutique owner myself, I often make wholesale purchases online from Chinese manufacturers through popular trade portal, Alibaba and its other sister sites. But of late I came across some International wholesale sites just like the one I mentioned above. There are many of them these days, some of them will even spam your email by sending unsolicited promotional emails about how they offer the best quality of clothing materials at affordable prices. While I’m not totally labeling them a ‘Scam’ site, there are however some vital things to look out for when shopping online. Here are the facts:
1. Beware of “Wholesale” Sites
While they call themselves “wholesale” sites, they are nothing of the sort. International Wholesale websites ask for no credentials, but still claim to offer you a wholesale price. Perhaps it’s just semantics, but they are offering a retail price, because they are in the retail business. Sometimes reputable closeout websites will use wording such as “below wholesale prices” or something similar, this is a marketing decision and not the same issue. If a site claims to be selling wholesale but doesn’t require credentials or a minimum purchase, that is a red flag and you should consider taking your money elsewhere.
2. The picture is just an “example”
Many international clothing sites WILL actually fulfill your order (they don’t just take your money and run) but that doesn’t mean that you get what was in the picture. Oftentimes the photo is an outdated example of the garment that you will receive, the color, fit, length, pattern or overall structure might be completely different than you thought it would be based on the images. This isn’t a case of “colors may appear differently on different computer monitors” this is a different garment than you thought you were ordering. Sometimes they will steal photos of designer items and insist that you will receive the item in the photo. Besides being a nuisance to you, they are also committing a crime against the designer of the original product. One time, I purchased a jacket for a photoshoot I was working on and actually really liked it. The fit was VERY small but it did the trick on my model. I liked it so much I decided to carry a few of them in my shop, however, upon re-ordering (just a couple of weeks later) I got an unfortunate, Frankenstein’s monster version of the once-cute jacket. The fabric had changed, the buttons were twice the size and the fit was lopsided. Exact same item – just, not at all. Which brings me to concern #3
3. There is no return policy.
Most of these international fashion sites do not offer returns at all, or if they do are under VERY specific circumstances. In most cases, even if a return were an option, the high price of international shipping would be enough to make most customers bite the bullet and keep the unwanted item. If you cannot live without an item, just know that you will HAVE to live with it once you make the purchase. Some sites feature individual sellers who may have their own individual return policies. Be aware that there is not a lot of support when things go awry.
4. If The item is out of stock – they still keep your money.
Perhaps the most worrisome fact about these questionable sites is their practice of dealing with out-of-stock merchandise. It goes like this – you buy a skirt, the website is out of the skirt, they may or MAY NOT inform you of that fact. If you are contacted about the out-of-stock item, you may not receive your funds back, instead they put them into you “account” which is essentially a store credit. So you HAVE TO buy something else. If you fight the policy, you won’t hear back from them. These websites are excellent at disappearing when customers become upset.
5. VERY poor quality items.
So lets say you just can’t resist and want to make the purchase anyway? Even if you avoid all of the inconveniences listed above, you still may not be satisfied with your item. Before researching these sites (and testing their product) I had the thought that many of you might have – “plenty of items I use every day are imported and are of great quality – what’s the big deal?” Yes, we live in a world of cheap, imported items, but they are still held to standard of quality (however high or low) that you are familiar with. The main issue with these products is that you have no way of knowing what their quality standards are, and they are usually VERY low.