10 Tips for Buying Shoes Online

Shopping in the time of COVID has shifted significantly online. Now that many retailers are inviting customers back in stores, many shoppers have reservations and are still opting for online purchases or curbside pick-ups to minimize contact with others. For many things, this is actually more convenient and saves us time (groceries, household items, etc.). But for other more personal items, it can be quite daunting. How can you buy a pair of shoes when you can't try them on? 

We recently spoke with a few experts who shared some of their best tips for purchasing shoes online.

Lauren Arkin-Malacsina, owner of a Miami based online boutique suggests the folllowing:

1 - Keep an eye out for sales. So many retailers are vying for sales and revenue they are competing with having sales that save the consumer a lot of money.

2 - Buy from brands you know fit your feet comfortably. If you have a few pairs from the same brand, see what new styles they have come out with for the season.The probability that the shoe would fit is very high so having to return or exchange them would be less. 

Speaking of returns, Laurice Wardini founder of ClothedUp emphasizes the importance of checking the returns/exchange policy.

3 - Find the Best Return Policy. It's easy to shop online for shoes when the store offers free returns and they even give you the return label. Make sure to check your favorite store to see if they have free return labels.

Yasir Shamim, a digital and e-commerce expert, advises the importance of getting the sizing right when you can't try on in store:

4 - Take the exact measurements of your foot and add a “wiggle room” of 0.5 to 0.7 inches in order for you to get the right shoe size. You can choose to draw your largest foot on a piece of paper or use a Brannock foot measurer  if available.

5 - Refer to the size chart of the specific brand you plan to buy from. They usually publish these size guides and conversion charts on their websites. You should do this whether you plan on buying on the brand’s official website or via online retailers like Amazon.

Fitness expert Ryan Raffel also notes that you need to account for foot size discrepancies:

6 - Over many years of buying shoes online I have learned a few things.  My feet are half sizes so if a shoe does not come in a half size I always opt for the size above to avoid pinching.  Also I take great care in looking at the actual model of the shoe. If the style is narrow then you might want to opt for the wider model (if available).

Reviews are so important too, as Paul Ronto from RunRepeat, the largest shoe review site on the internet, notes:

7 - The best advice I have is to read the reviews. You can learn so much from reading what others say about fit, feel, durability, performance. It's really hard to know if a shoe fits right buying it online, but with the right user info you can be confident you are getting the right shoes for your needs. 

Arkin-Malacsina also stresses the importance of reviews and to be sure you know what you're actually getting:

8 - Take a look at consumer reviews for the style of shoe or brand you are looking into buying. There are many brands whose sizes run big and/or wide or vise versa or some that are made with cheaper materials. Being knowledgeable about the fit of the shoe before purchasing will help alleviate having to return them. 

9 - Since I sell vintage shoes (which are one-offs and previously worn) I make sure that I am transparent with any and or all defects the shoes may have. Make sure you are aware if the shoes you are buying have been previously worn or brand new. This can help avoid any return hassle and disappointment. 

10 - Go for a little retail therapy and buy a pair of shoes that make you happy. In the current climate with so many negative things happening in our world, if buying a fun pair of shoes (even if you just wear them around the house with your pjs) makes you happy, go for it. 


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