7 Online Sneaker Shopping Errors and How to Avoid Them

With the top eight footwear companies being athletic brands, it’s no surprise that sneakers dominate fashion today.

More than any other shoe style, sneakers seem to have spawned a culture of their own, run by “sneakerheads” and followed by casual sneaker lovers who are just looking for a pair of good-looking, easy-to-wear shoes.

And with that comes a range of sneaker styles and shops, including those found online. But if you’re looking to find your next pair of shoes on the internet, it’s crucial to avoid some common online sneaker shopping errors.

Here are seven mistakes to avoid and what to do instead.

  1. Not Checking the Return Policy

When buying anything online, there’s a risk that the product won’t be what you had in mind.

And with clothing and sneakers, this is especially important to remember. What seems great in a photo may not fit your style and look as appealing offline.

Whenever you’re purchasing sneakers online, always check the return policy before you add anything to your cart.

Check that you understand the refund policy, including if full refunds are possible and if you’ll get shipping costs returned as well. In some cases, refunds may not even be available at all, with only exchanges or store credit offered.

Also consider the cost you may be responsible for if you need to send the shoes back. Assuming the online store you’re purchasing from doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar shops, you’ll need to ship the sneakers back yourself. And if the store doesn’t offer a pre-paid return slip, you may have to pay hefty shipping fees, especially if the shop is based in a different country. 

  1. Always Putting Style Over Function

The great thing about sneakers is that they’re both fashionable and comfortable. They’re usually easy to wear, while adding style to your ‘fit.

But it can be easy to make the mistake of putting style over function when shopping online.

When browsing digitally, you can only see how a shoe looks in a photo and how it’s styled on a model. You can’t check the fit, material, level of support, and other key characteristics of functional shoes.

But it’s worth it to dig beyond the photos to consider how wearable those sneakers you’re eyeing really are.

When buying sneakers, know their purpose. Have activities in mind for wearing the sneakers, such as running, walking around the city, or standing for long hours at work. Each of those activities will require a vastly different shoe.

Also consider the type of weather you’ll wear them in and where.

Aesthetics mean nothing if you can’t actually wear your new kicks in the real world.

  1. Not Knowing Your Size

Different feet need different shoes. But it can be hard to find the perfect fit for your feet just by browsing online.

Sizes for sneakers can vary depending on the brand and style. And not everyone will be able to fit into standard sizes anyway, especially if you have wide feet, flat feet, or feet that are two different sizes.

This is where it can come in handy to stay loyal to a couple reliable brands. If you already own a pair of perfectly-fitting sneakers from a particular brand, or if you’ve tried them on in the store before, you’re more likely to avoid making the mistake of choosing the wrong shoe size.

If you want to buy shoes online from a new brand, at least make sure to check their size guide. Measure your feet if necessary to make sure you make the best choice.

  1. Shopping From Shady Sites

The options for sneakers online are nearly endless. But not every online sneaker store is trustworthy, no matter how professional their site may look.

There are plenty of scams to be aware of. In some cases, products are bait-and-switched, where they look high-quality in a photo but end up being an entirely different style and material once they arrive.

The worst, yet very possible, case scenario for many online shoppers is paying for shoes and then never receiving them.

Avoid these scams by shady sites by checking online customer reviews first. Also make sure that the online shops you use have a secure connection and a privacy policy in place.

You can also double-check with associations and organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, to learn about a store’s reputation.

  1. Saving Money With Knockoffs

When it comes to sneakers, knockoffs and cheaper off-brand options are a plenty, but that doesn’t mean you should buy them.

Many iconic styles, like the Jordan 9, simply can’t be replaced with knockoffs. The signature quality, fit, and look won’t be the same. What makes these shoes classics will be lost with copycats.

As much as possible, look to the originals to get the best, highest quality sneakers online.

  1. Not Shopping Around

You already know to avoid buying knockoffs, even if they could save you money. But that doesn’t mean your next pair of sneakers have to cost you a pretty penny.

If you still want to save money, rather than going for cheap off-brand versions of your favorite styles, find the brand and model you want and shop around for it.

Shopping online allows you to conveniently browse literally hundreds of stores, without having to go door to door comparing inventory and prices. You can do it all from the comfort of your home.

You can even use search engines and comparison shopping sites that make it easy to search multiple websites at once. Then, you can clearly see which stores have your dream sneakers in your size.

From there, choose the (reputable) site that has the best deal to help you save your hard-earned money.

  1. Forgetting to Check the Material

This is one of the biggest, and yet most easily prevented, mistakes of shopping for sneakers online.

Most online stores will provide details on the shoes you’re looking at, including what the shoes are made of. For sneakers, this information should include the upper, sole, and inner lining, if any.

Knowing the material can help you get a better idea of what you’re really buying and how long it will last.

Avoid These Online Sneaker Shopping Errors

Finding the perfect pair of sneakers doesn’t have to be hard—as long as you don’t let these online sneaker shopping errors get in the way.

Ready for more ways to update your style? Read our latest fashion articles for more inspiration and tips!

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