Bang for your buck with online shopping

Gillian Hogan

For busy students, online clothes shopping is a lifesaver. Gillain Hogan finds out where to get the best value for money.

It’s possible to pay anything from €5 to €40 for a t-shirt but the price isn’t everything. On a student budget, it is important to know that what you buy won’t end up being a false economy. Why buy bargain €10 jeans once a month when a €50 pair would last longer than your course itself?

‘’ and ‘’ have both recently crept their way into conversations of the fashion conscious. Similar high street style can be found on both sites at very different prices, but how do they compare in other aspects?

If you’ve ever watched reality tv, you’ll know that new up and coming clothing sites usually sponsor the shows. ‘Missguided’, ‘Boohoo’ and ‘Pretty Little Thing’ have all had beautifully done advertisements before and after the ad breaks of ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Love Island’. How you say ‘’ in your head probably still mimics the woman in the voiceover. The new site of the minute is ‘In The Style’.

Average prices are €35 for jeans,€28 for knitted jumpers,€40 for jumpsuits and dresses, and €63 for winter coats. Clothing quality can be described as hit and miss but mostly hit. It matches the quality of high street stores such as ‘New Look’, ‘Zara’ and ‘H&M’. Items don’t have quite the same durability as ‘Topshop’ or ‘River Island’ but with their pricetag, they are not expected to. Ordering white clothes should be done with caution as, depending on the product, the material can be quite see through.

‘Zaful’ is the online Asian clothing shops whose ads continuously pop up all over your Instagram, and who knows where else. It is also one of those sites your parents warned you not to give your bank details to at risk of getting scammed. ‘Zaful’ has been around for years but is only recently coming into the spotlight as influencers have spent 2018 plugging their items, in particular their bikinis.

Their average prices fall at €21 for jeans, €16 for knitted jumpers, €15 for jumpsuits and dresses, and €25 for winter coats. ‘Zaful’ swimwear is currently much more reliable than their clothing. Their range of over 3,000 bikinis and swimsuits, which cost an average of €15, are made with thick, supporting materials and have yet to be matched by other brands.

Alternatively, you can tell that their clothing comes at a cheap price, just not as cheap as it actually is. It is of much better quality than to be expected considering, it’s cheaper than ‘Penneys’. Sizing can be irregular, especially in jumpsuits so paying particular attention to measurements of particular items is a necessity.

Ordering something at the last minute is a big part of online shopping. If there’s no time to get to the shops before a night out, the immediate solution is to use next day delivery. Like it’s competitors, ‘In the Style’ offers next day delivery to the Republic of Ireland for €5.99. ‘Missguided’ still ranks way ahead of the crowd as their price is only €2. ‘In the Style’ also offers a reasonably priced standard 3-4 working day delivery at €3.99 for those in less of a hurry. Unlike many others that offer fast delivery services, ‘In The Style’ carries through and orders are received within the specified time range.

‘Zaful’’s delivery process is not as pleasant. Orders are shipped from China so a longer waiting period can be expected. Ireland is not specified on the website’s shipping information so it is not possible to know exactly how long delivery will take. However, the UK takes 7- 10 business days for standard shipping and 3-7 for express. Standard shipping costs €4.34 and express is a steeper €11.31. This is not the price or time your clothing will reach you though.

Before your items can be shipped they will need to go through processing which takes up to 10 business days. After three weeks of processing and shipping, dreaded customs come into play. An added fault to the ‘Zaful’ delivery system is that different clothing items come from different warehouses, so it will not arrive at your doorstep at the same time. Instead, it starts to feel like you are receiving random jigsaw pieces of your order.

Due to the nature of online shopping, mistakes will always happen. A company’s quality of customer service plays a big part in whether you will continue to shop with them in the future. ‘In The Style’ constantly save themselves with excellent customer service. Their excellent online staff, who answer customer queries via their website live chat, have 24-hour response rate. They are efficient in understanding the problem and coming up with solutions, offering full refunds as well as superb size advice.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for ‘Zaful’. This is mainly due to language barriers as they deliver to a much more international clientele than ‘In the Style’. It takes a lot more time for their customer service team to understand exactly what the problem is and come up with a solution satisfactory to the customer. ‘Zaful’’s live chat equivalent feels like you are talking to robots and trying to get your wording exact so that they can’t just redirect you to a page on their website which you have already visited.

‘In The Style’ may seem like a clear winner but ‘Zaful’ should not be completely disregarded. We are used to shopping on sites similar to ‘In The style’ as most UK companies use the same model. ‘Zaful’ is the best site of it’s kind but still has room for improvement. It offers fashionable clothing at a price which should be taken advantage of by students.

Gillian Hogan

Image Credit: Orfhlaith Carragher