If you wanted a new pair of shoes, you trudged off to a department store, tried on several pairs, settled on one (or a dozen), and took your purchases home with you that day.

Lately, more and more people are breaking with tradition and buying shoes online. In part, this is because we’ve become busier, but mostly because we now have access to brands, designers, styles, and sizes that we were unable to find in our local shoe stores.

If you feel the need for a women’s size 14, extra-narrow, red pump with a 3-inch heel, you can find it at one of the many online shoe stores.

But all online shoe stores are not created equal. Here is some advice for buying shoes online.

See Also: How to Measure Your Feet

Shipping Charges: The Added Cost of Buying Shoes Online

Try to find out the shipping charges before spending a lot of time adding items to your cart.

You may think you’re getting a great deal on all those shoes, but if shipping is too high, you might end up paying a lot more than you anticipated.

This is especially true if you are ordering from a country other than the one you reside in.

Many online shoe stores offer free shipping, which is great. But do a few price comparisons before you buy.

Occasionally, you’ll find a better price at an online shoe store that charges a reasonable shipping rate and still comes out ahead.

Returns/Exchanges – Know the Policies in Advance

Another hugely important element of buying shoes online is the ability to return or exchange them if they have a defect, don’t fit, or don’t look the way you thought they would.

While most online shoe stores will offer some sort of return policy, don’t take it for granted. Know before checking out that you’ll be able to return the “new condition” shoes for any reason.

Of course, if you’re willing to take a chance on a deeply discounted pair of shoes, you might decide to buy without a return policy.

But you still need to know your return and exchange options before buying.

Also, find out in advance whether or not you’ll have to pay the return shipping fees if you do need to make a return or exchange.

Need Your Shoes in a Hurry? Check Shipping Times

If you absolutely, most certainly, must have a particular pair of shoes by a certain date, I strongly recommend buying them in person or ordering them far enough in advance that you have other options if your shoes don’t ship in time.

This is not some hidden code implying that online shoe stores don’t ship in a timely fashion. Most of the shoe purchases I’ve made online have arrived in record time, but why take any chances?

Again, know the shipping policies of the online shoe store you’re dealing with, and check to see if the item you’re ordering is actually in stock. If it is backordered, this could add weeks to your delivery time.

As long as you deal with reputable online shoe stores and pay attention to the details mentioned above, buying shoes online is a great way to save time and money and to give yourself the most options when shopping for footwear.

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