Shopping has never been easier since smartphones and laptops become essential gadgets that everyone tote. In fact, we are quite sure the last few fashion and beauty purchases you’ve made were probably done via an online store. While most of us might have been shopping for our fashion apparel online for some time now, many of us are relatively new to shopping for beauty products.
Online shoppers Daily Vanity spoke to shared that they used to only replenish beauty products they are familiar with from online stores, but more recently, have become more experimental with their online purchases and are using online stores as a platform to discover new beauty products.
Other than the convenience of shopping any time of the day and any where they are, another reason why some shoppers are looking to online outlets for their purchasing needs is because of the attractive prices they offer.
“I find that beauty products sold online are generally cheaper than those in brick-and-mortar stores. There are also more frequent promotional periods where I can enjoy further discounts,” says Freda, 31, who says she buys beauty products online at least once every two months. However, Freda admits that sometimes the low prices worry her, “If the prices are too low, it rings an alarm within me; I wonder if the products are actually authentic.”
Jack Wong, director and co-founder of BeautyFresh, an e-commerce start-up in Singapore that sources for luxury beauty, skincare and fragrance products from all over the world, shares why e-tailers are able to offer lower prices, besides having lower overheads (from not having a brick-and-mortar store).
“We curate products from all over the world, and benefit from the economies of scale which we then pass on as savings to our customers. Our prices are generally 10-15% lower than city prices, and we offer free delivery to your doorstep if your order is above SGD40 – which is rather easy to reach, so delivery is almost always free,” Jack says.
But not all e-tailers offer lower prices than normal retailers. Leading online shopping site ZALORA adheres to the recommended retail price (RRP) of brands. Sylvia Lim, Regional Beauty Buyer of ZALORA explains that the e-commerce store works directly with principal brands as an authorised dealer, and does not offer lower prices.
However, you can still look forward to a good deal during selected periods. “During tactical periods such as end-of-season sales or promotional campaigns, both parties (principal brands and ZALORA) would align sales strategies to reflect consistency,” Sylvia adds.
How to get the best deals from online stores?
To help you to further secure the best deals from online stores, Jack from BeautyFresh recommends making good use of your first purchase privileges. “There are usually attractive discounts for first purchases, so look out for the discount code before you check out your first purchase on a store,” says Jack.
ZALORA’s Sylvia advises shoppers to look out for seasonal sales period, “ZALORA follows the general retail calendar where there are seasonal sales such as Mid-Season Sales and End-of-Season Sales, as well as festive season sales such as Christmas and GSS (Great Singapore Sale).”
Representatives from both e-tailers also recommends subscribing to the mailing list of the stores you like to shop from, where alerts on special deals usually go out first.
How do we know if the beauty products we are buying online are authentic?
Lydia, 35, has a few bad experiences buying clothes from online stores. “I have bought some very cheap clothes from websites, and the quality turns out to be quite different from what it seems on the models. I find that there is even more risk in buying beauty products online; while I can just throw away clothes that don’t feel like are of good quality, I won’t want to apply a fake product on my face,” she says.
To help you wade through the authentication process, here are tips from us, as well as the experts we spoke to, Sylvia from ZALORA and Jack from BeautyFresh.
Before making the purchase
- The principal brand usually has licenses with authorised dealers within the region, and consumers can do a quick check on their own on the brand’s website for a directory of authorised dealers.
- All authentic products should be accompanied by product images and descriptions for consumers to make informed decisions about the products they are purchasing.
- See if there’s valid contact information of the e-tailer on the site.
- Check their reviews on platforms such as Facebook or forums. Online stores that see many similar complaints about them from customers should be avoided.
- Are the descriptions written in good English, if it’s a English-based site? If it sounds like your five-year-old nephew can write better, there’s a good chance it is a fly-by-night company.
- Make sure the payment page is SSL secured, which means sensitive data that you share, such as your credit card details, are protected. One easy way to check is to see if the URL starts with “https” (instead of “http”) on the page you enter your credit card information.
When you receive your purchase
- The first thing to do is to check that the product seals and packaging are in good condition to be sure that the products were not exposed to contamination.
- Visit sites such as CheckCosmetic.net to check on the manufacturing dates and expiry dates.
If you suspect that the product isn’t in good condition, or isn’t from a legitimate source, do not use them. Contact your seller and to try to get a refund instead.