From my experience, there appears to be a few different types of shoppers out there. There are those who will buy what they want, when they want, regardless of how much it may cost them, those that save their pennies and buy one nice more expensive item every now and then, those that just avoid buying anything period if they can and then there are shoppers like me – those that thrive off finding good, cheap deals wherever possible.
This led me to explore the Internet (of course) to find out what secrets it may hold as far as deals go. Now sure, there is the usual watch for sales, get coupon codes, check Amazon, etc. – but what caught my attention was the prevalence of super cheap sites that are available.
Now there is A LOT of talk about these sites. They’ve got the internet abuzz with everything from horror stories of buyers who have been burned by going this route to rumours that apparently these Chinese knock-off sites are funding terrorist activity… If you Google it, you will find more than your share of information. You could be reading for days!
Despite all the warnings, I spoke with a couple good friends who had some serious good luck with specific stores and decided to give it a try. I did my research and decided to purchase from the site Light in the Box.
Now, disclaimer, I jumped in with both feet – I didn’t just order anything my first time ordering there, I ordered my wedding reception dress!
Photography by Danielle Tremblay Photography
I was married in my mother’s wedding gown, which my sister had modernized for my wedding. For this reason, I didn’t want to wear it through the party portion of the reception, as I would be afraid of ruining it the whole time rather than just having fun with my guests. I decided to try this route due to the fact I just wouldn’t care – what did I have to lose? A cheapie knock-off dress? It was the perfect set up!
Not only did the dress look great at my wedding reception itself, but we then took it along to Los Cabos where we had a trash the dress shoot. It held up through the full shoot, looking great, and after a quick cleaning back home is ready to be worn again should I ever want to!
Photography by Tomas Barron
(I am debating dying it, has anyone every tried that? I’d love to hear your tips and experiences!)
After having such success, I went back to the site again in the search for the perfect bathing suit for a boat party. I had fallen in love with a specific style of one piece bathing suit that I had been seeing on sites like Modcloth and decided to chance it once again on Light in the Box. I was now officially 2 for 2 using their site!
You may be wondering, how can you beat the system and take steps to protect yourself when purchasing from these sites? They are honestly not all bad! You just need to be smart about your purchases and do your due diligence… In most cases with these sites returning them is not a viable option, so put the time into protecting yourself BEFORE hitting the purchase button!
- Do NOT rely on Facebook likes to determine which of these sites is worth your time! There is no independent customer reviews or rating system on Facebook. What you see is controlled by the company, and so they are easily able to manipulate ‘likes’ and delete any negative comments and reviews! Seeing all positive reviews on a Facebook page may be nothing more than a sign that someone knows how to play the system.
- Research the company. This is when you can turn to Google. Warning, you are going to get a lot of crap that you will have to sort through – as I said earlier, there is a whole theory regarding the use of knock-off sites to fund terrorist activities. Check for complaints, read the horror stories and take the time to see if their images are stolen (as often happens on the not so trustworthy sites).
- Don’t trust the models for how the final garment is going to ultimately look, trust the buyers! Reputable sites will not only allow customer reviews, but the customers can post pictures of themselves in their purchased items. This is a chance to see the real product, in use, on a real person. Use it! While you can’t handle the product and try it on in person, this is going to be your next best thing! These pictures aren’t photoshopped, they aren’t perfectly
- Pay attention to the company’s sizing charts. Chinese sizing is not the same as the sizing that we are used to over here in Canada/US. Many of the negative reviews that you will find are people claiming that their items do not fit. A lot of this can be avoided…. Don’t guess at your sizes, don’t assume its going to be the same as what you wear here – take the two seconds to measure yourself out and see where it fits on the chart! Also, don’t be shocked if it comes back significantly ‘larger’ than the size you are used to – their sizes run incredibly small!
- Above all else, use some common sense! While you can likely find a formal gown listed somewhere for $10, do you honestly expect to receive the product, shipped to your door, at that cost to be one of high quality? If it seems far too good to be true, it likely is! You want a good deal, but don’t get too greedy with it… That rarely works to your advantage in the long run!
I spoke with the friends who have been shopping on these types of sites for awhile and compiled a list of their most recommended websites. Remember that these sites are simply a personal opinion. I do not guarantee results from any site, nor am I affiliated with any of these sites.
- Light in the Box (this is the only one that I have ever purchased from, but I keep coming back to it!)
- Sammy Dress
- Deal Extreme
Note: Purchasing from sites overseas, like those listed above, may also involve having to pay customs fees upon delivery. When you are considering the purchase price of your item, take that into consideration for the overall cost of the item.
Have you ever purchased from one of these sites? What was your experience? Are there sites that you would recommend over others?