The Lovely Gift Group is now in its busiest shopping period of the year and with the early launch of our Black Friday 10% off everything offer, we are stocked up and ready for the orders to start flooding in as they did last year.
Whilst we're not in Lockdown this year, many of our customers have told us that they enjoyed sitting at home and getting the majority of their Christmas shopping via the internet. However, as with all the good things in life there can be pitfalls, especially in the world we are living and working in at the moment, so Helen Davies, founder of The Lovely Gift Group, has written a guide to successful Christmas shopping on the internet.
1 Don't leave it too late
Last year we unexpectedly had to close our online stores order taking a lot earlier than we wanted to as the postal service was under incredible strain and orders were taking up to 2-3 weeks no matter what service customers paid for. This year, we are hoping, and expecting postal and courier services to cope a little better under that strain, but with lessons learnt from 2020, I would definitely recommend not being complacent and getting ahead with your orders just in case.
There are already companies talking about shortages in products, packaging, boxes and delivery drivers, so the best advice would always be 'don't leave it until the last minute'. Despite their best efforts, retailers just simply might not be able to get your gift to you when you are wanting.
The rise in online shopping has seen the increase in popularity of personalised gifts. From experience I know how joyful it can be to receive, and indeed buy, a personalised gift but I also know just how many mistakes are made when customers input the wording they want.
Be warned, with most companies, what you type in is what they produce and often even if you call with corrections, it's too late to change and you might have to order and pay for another to have the text you want. So check, check and double check before you press buy!
Check how many characters you can have, see if they do a preview, don't use emojis, check if it automatically corrects to a different word, check you have correctly used Capital Letters and of course make sure you have spelt names correctly.
3 Delivery address
You'd be amazed at the number of people who struggle to receive their orders because they have made a mistake with the delivery address. If your billing address is different make sure it doesn't autofill. Double check you have typed your postcode in correctly and ensure you fill in every line of the address. Don't forget too, that if you are out at work, either deliver to your work address if you are able or leave a note on the order or by your door suggesting where they can leave your parcel.
4 Multi gift ordering
The only cost to online shopping is the delivery so try to be canny in how you shop. Some retailers offer free delivery over a certain value spent, but be careful as free delivery charges can often be hidden in the product price - nothing in life is for free!
But if you are going to have to pay delivery, shop around the site, see what other gifts you might find for other friends or family so that you split the delivery charge across all gifts and just pay once.
5 Price check
Shopping online is a great way to compare the same product you are interested in amongst a number of different shops selling it without walking for miles. Make sure you check you have the lowest price, but be careful to check that you are seeing the full price as sometimes delivery might not initially be included in the promoted price with some retailers.
6 Voucher codes
Whilst many retailers are getting sick of discount sites promoting codes that are only meant for specific customers and shoppers are getting sick of voucher promoters appearing in search engines when they don't have valid codes, it is still always worth checking.
Sometimes the website will promote a code on their own site (you might have to sign up for a newsletter), others could be in newspapers or collaborative businesses but it's also always worth googling for a discount code.
7 Suggested gifts
Keep your eyes open around the site as many online retailers have mechanics that make suggested ideas based on what you have in your basket of what you have searched for. These ideas may not be initially front of your mind but are useful if you are looking for new ideas or more innovative gifts.
8 Check the details
Make sure the item is exactly the ones you want by checking the product code and take time to look through specifications to ensure it is the size, specification, colour etc, that you exactly want. Where there aren't sales assistants to ask, there are often detailed description or specification pages. Also look out for online chat facilities and don't be afraid to email any questions.
If you were in a store, you'd pick up, touch and feel the gift, turn it and look at it from different angles so make sure you get a good look at all the photographs on the site. Most reputable online retailers will have a selection of photographs, the ability to zoom in, and some even have short videos to show off the detail.
10 Shop small
Just because you are online shopping doesn't mean you can only buy from multi national retail giants. Jeff Bezos and Amazon will be fine this Christmas but many smaller retailers are relying on sales this year to survive so try to shop with smaller independents where you can. Also, you can shop local online don't forget that many small independent retailers and artisans on your local high street will also have an online presence. So if you have a favourite small, local shop make sure you check out if they also have a shop on the internet.
Helen said: "Online shopping became hugely popular during lockdown last year and so far this year, retailers are reporting that the trend to shop online shows no signs of slowing.
There are huge advantages if you know how to make it work well for you and if you can avoid a couple of pitfalls by taking care with your orders, it really can be affordable and convenient during busy Christmas shopping periods. We try where we can to make the online buying the best possible experience."