Shopping on Instagram

April 02, 2020

Like walking down the Highstreet, scrolling through Instagram has become my new way of window shopping. But unlike the Highstreet, you get recommended more of the same, if you like it your feed shouts “Hey look at this similar item you’ll LOVE!”

I’ve found that more and more these days – as walking through the Highstreet is basically illegal right now – I spend a lot more time scrolling and seeing these recommendations. Like actually taking notice and not just assuming its another account I follow as I used to.

As I had a lot of time on my hands, I decided to bite the bait. I opened every page they offered up to me and then followed through to the site. 7/10 looked 100% legit, in the sense that I could probably get what was being shown to me in the pictures.

To clarify I mainly got niche fashion sites, jewellery sites and crystal sites suggested. As those are what I tend to look for when it comes to online shopping.

Going through the clothes stores I settled on Shein. I’d heard of this store but I have always been too scared to shop from there myself due to past experiences with Chinese warehouse stores – id classify this as one having seen a post on their Instagram showing them just having boxes and boxes of clothes rather than physical stores. I have used Yesstyle – another warehouse store- and the sizing left me incredibly upset and their returns policy is basically you send us the clothes back and we’ll give you credit for our store.

Knowing that Shein and Yesstyle are not the same I decided to have a look and ended up finding things in ALL departments that I wanted. From home storage and decoration to tops, dresses and shoes. I compiled them into a wish list which came up to 140 items, I then cut this down daily, getting it down to a manageable 60 items – still needs more cutting down, I know. Hopefully, I will get down to my top 10 (15 at a push) items and buy them. I also noticed it was one of those sites with a constant countdown to something and constant sales, which seems to be a trend with online stores of this nature. 

I did end up buying a crystal online through the app. I stumbled upon the page Lustre Crystals and like fate, they were having a flash sale on the page on a crystal I had been looking for for a while. So I checked my bank and made the purchase. I had never used Instagram to buy anything before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was incredibly pleased. The person running the account was extremely helpful when I was having trouble with Paypal and when the crystal arrived it was so beautifully packaged, in a box and wrapped with paper, lined with dried flowers. The crystal itself was in a little canvas pouch, which I have given to my housemate as she was enamoured with it and I have other plans for storing the crystal.

One thing that interested me was becoming an ‘ambassador’ for Instagram brands. An old friend of mine had become one for a jewellery store which had a lot of items I had seen advertised on Shein and Aliexpress for much less than they were selling. So I decided to see what they were offering to their ambassadors, as their daily story was jam-packed full of girls wearing their jewellery as ambassadors – making me wonder, do they have any customers that aren’t ambassadors?

Their whole schtick was become an ambassador to get a free item from their site, just pay for shipping. So I messaged them to become one. Communication was good and within the hour they had me all sorted and I'd ordered and paid for shipping and messaged them to tell them like they had asked. At the time of writing, I still haven’t got an email to tell me it is out for delivery, so I’m starting to think I’ve been put out of £4.99. which is a lot better than the £34.98 it could have been. Yes, they were offering jewellery I found I could get for £2.99 for 10 times the price, and shipping. To check the quality, I was thinking of conducting an experiment by ordering the exact same necklace on Shein to see if the quality is the same, but as I am undecided on what else I want from Shein this might have to wait.

All in all, what I’ve found shopping via Instagram is that it can be hit and miss. Unlike in physical stores, you can just go in and touch items, feel the quality. But with online stores unattached to a physical shop, you don’t know what you’re getting until you have it in your home. So far I’ve been lucky with my crystal but who knows about the rest. I’m sure the clothes look good, especially for photos but I am not sure about how they would feel when you have to wear them all day. Shop sustainably! 

P.S.  I know I have mentioned I will be buying from Shein, I will also be taking the time to DIY some items I saw on the site that sold out or the reviews were negative material wise.

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