Buying Beauty: Department Stores vs Online

Wed, 12 December 2012 3:58PM

‘Tis the season to be shopping, apparently.

But when you buy beauty for others, or yourself, do you let your fingers do the finding within the confines of your couch? Or do you prefer to go with your senses, and head into the department store beauty counter where you can touch, feel, smell and try before you buy, like Jessica Alba here?

There are pros and cons for both online and department store shopping. If you’re undecided on how to tackle your Christmas list, here are some tips from both sides:

Department Stores

Touch and Go:

  • At the department store cosmetic counter, you have the advantage of experiencing the product prior to the purchase. This makes it a more personal experience whereby experts are on hand to guide you through trends, colours and textures.

In-Store Seduction:

  • There is a sense of excitement and intrigue related to the department store cosmetic experience, explains David Jones General Manager of Beauty, Stephen McDonald. “Many of our beauty counters offer unique and personalised demonstrations which add to a sense of theatre in store,” he says, noting that brands such as Napoleon Perdis offer workshops in store with make up artists. “These are terrific in improving customer knowledge of makeup and how to apply it.”

A Name, not Just a Number:

  • If you’re loyal to a brand, you can speed up the transaction time at counter by taking down the name on your first purchase, so the staff knows what you’re after next time you visit. Most beauty brands also offer to keep a record of your favourite shades and products on a file-card so you can always refer back to what you wore last summer or which lip shade worked back with your lighter eye colour.

Super Staff and Sensational Samples:

  • Beauty companies are constantly training staff in new cosmetic and fragrance services and many cosmetic counters boast professional makeup artists and beauty therapists on hand to offer full makeup and skincare trials. Samples are also a big plus as they allow you to take home what you’ve tried and think about it for the 14th time before shelling out a cent.

Online Shopping

Convenience and comparisons, without the crowds

  • Kate Morris, founder of lists the fact that you can shop in your pajamas as a major ‘pro’ of online shopping. “Obviously it’s much more convenient, as you can shop whenever it suits you and not have to deal with parking or crowds. It’s also much easier to research the different products,” she says. “At Adore Beauty, you can compare and read reviews for over 400 different moisturisers,” she says.

Live Chats & Forums

  • If you’re unsure of a purchase – and dubious that staff is telling you what you want to hear – online shopping offers a brutally honest alternative. Live chats allow you to talk to others while you shop and forums give you the power to throw any questions about products out there, and have them answered by other consumers who may love, or loath them.

Worldwide Web

  • Online shopping brings global brands, local, so you have more choice at your fingertips. This gives you power to choose a brand or product that is tailor made for you, rather than settling for what is available.

Be Careful of Hidden Costs

  • Kate says that most online stores are pretty transparent when it comes to divulging shipping costs and other fees, but she notes that you may pay in more than dollars if you shop on a site that is not reputable. “The only potential ‘cost’ is if you purchase products from an unauthorized or grey market seller – the product you receive might not be authentic or fresh,” she says.

Wrapped and Ready

  • Online shopping doesn’t end at the checkout. More often than not, you can have your purchase gift-wrapped and gorgeously presented for no extra cost.

What do you think Primpers?

In the end, if you’re happy with your purchase, do you care if the Postie delivered it or you mulled over if for hours in the mall?

ecb X

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  • Posted by: strawbsundae Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 04:56pm

    I enjoy shopping online and in-store as I always end up paying less online, but then buying in-store means that I get to play with my goodies immediately without delay.

  • Posted by: Sarah // Wed, 12 December 2012 05:10pm

    I go in store to try out the products, then it’s home to shop online where I can get things a hell of a lot cheaper!

  • Posted by: misschris Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 06:27pm

    I like to both shop instore and online. It’s the best of both worlds. I only ever buy fragrances instore though.

  • Posted by: louweeez Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 06:48pm

    Online is my preference. I buy instore for small everyday things. More expensive items I only buy as a treat and only if I know what I’m after or can’t find something online or plain old WANT IT NOW. I do not find staff helpful, infact I find the absolute opposite I inquire about SPF 50+ and no one knows about it, the other day in myer I asked where the bloom stand had moved to and I was told Bloom is no more cos the company went bust, but I “could try some Clinque products instead” Bloom has not gone bust, it’s online only now, she outright lied to get my try her product.

    I’m like Sarah, i try instore then buy online.

  • Posted by: Britty1 Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 06:49pm

    i do love receiving purchases in the mail – to brighten up my dull working day, however i think i still prefer the instore options and experience.

  • Posted by: lolo Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 06:53pm

    I do love online shopping BUT I must admit when working in retail it does get very frustrating when someone comes into my store to try something then says “oh okay thanks I’m going to go home a buy it online now” then walks out…

  • Posted by: glossed Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 08:45pm

    I barely buy anything in-store these days, I just cannot justify the price knowing how much cheaper it is overseas! Like the other girls I’ll usually try it on in-store then buy it online. Today for example, I made a MAC order on the Australian site which came to $205. Just for comparison, I went to the US site and the same order was only $109! So I’m using a delivery service (Dollface Delivery) to get the goods! Sometimes I can’t wait though, and just splurge in-store :)

  • Posted by: Julieow Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 08:55pm

    I find quality of staff on counter has really dwindled. I like to scope out departments stores when it’s quiet and very little staff on counter for the touch & feel research without been asked every 2 minutes if I’m ok. Then once I’m happy with colour etc I buy online

  • Posted by: diva89 Master Fan // Wed, 12 December 2012 09:40pm

    i’ve been shopping online for the past month

  • Posted by: wittyusername Devotee // Thu, 13 December 2012 12:21am

    I don’t have an opinion either way, but the reason so many retailers are struggling and people in retail cant get/retain jobs is due to the online shopping boom.

  • Posted by: daylight dancer Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 08:32am

    I’m torn. I love being able to hold a product in my hand and examine it and swatch it if need be. This way i can really tell if the product is for me, you cant do that online. But i love the cheaper cost of products online and the GWP you get from an online purchase. But then you run the risk of the product becoming damaged in the mail also. Its happened so often to me. So i dont stick to one buying routine. I usually buy instore but if an offer pops up thats to good to turn down online then i’ll grab it.

  • Posted by: PrettyPrincess Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 08:44am

    I find shopping in store isn’t always pleasant.
    The last time I visited myer 2 months ago the customer service was appalling.
    Also when you have done research online (forum chatting!) about a product, when you go I store and the SA’s know less about what they are selling than you,it’s quite off putting.

  • Posted by: Sparkles17 Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 10:26am

    I like shopping online for stuff I’ve tried and tested before so I know exactly how it smells and the exact shade. If its something new I prefer going into the store to make sure I like it.

  • Posted by: loopylexy Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 01:06pm

    I’ve never bought beauty products online, but I love buying clothes online.
    How big is Jessica Alba’s daughter now!~

  • Posted by: Tahlz68 Enthusiast // Thu, 13 December 2012 01:28pm

    I have shopped online a few times but nothing beats the store! You always find something you wern’t expecting!

  • Posted by: anitas.artistry Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 01:41pm

    I prefer to shop instore as I like to test products and use them asap.
    But I have shopped online when I know I can get it far cheaper on their website.

  • Posted by: DebstarDesigns Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 02:14pm

    I love both methods of shopping, but like Sarah, I tend to go try out the products instore then go home ans buy them online!

  • Posted by: soMuchPretty Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 03:00pm

    I enjoy both but I do find it much easier and less stressful to shop online. There are certain things that are better to actually go to the actual shop for as well. For example, I have learned my lesson to NOT buy pants online – I never get the right fit! And I am more cautious with shoes as well. Nearly all places allow returns and exchanges but many catch you out by making you pay for that return postage… I think all online retailers should offer to pay for return post.

  • Posted by: GorgeousEmeralds Master Fan // Thu, 13 December 2012 07:28pm

    I love to go instore, the main reason, I buy it and I have it to use asap no waiting….

  • Posted by: Mampha Master Fan // Fri, 14 December 2012 02:31am

    With Small unable to be taken into shops in case I finish up in the loony bin as a result, online shopping is appealing more and more. It’s a bit too easy.
    But I confess I am a bargainaholic… I buy throughout the year. It saves money, but the risk is I pop stuff away, forget I have it, and buy the person another gift. anyway 😀 Plus my house kind of looks like a jumble sale as it’s too small for my shopping habits 😀

  • Posted by: Jensta Master Fan // Fri, 14 December 2012 12:45pm

    I think sometimes going to the shops is nice, of course for the touchy, feely, smell side of things and getting sizing right. But if I can get it at a better price on line, I will and I find it exciting for the postie to be delivering it.

  • Posted by: beautiful87 Master Fan // Fri, 14 December 2012 06:20pm

    i love shopping online

  • Posted by: p3charmed Master Fan // Tue, 18 December 2012 11:30am

    I love mecca cosmetica and adore beauty on line stores, but i’d much rather buy products in a store, cos you cant test things, especially foundation, on line, and you can have it right away, which is good for someone like me with zero patience lol :)

  • Posted by: Momo Newbie // Thu, 20 December 2012 01:55am

    I like to try in store then buy online..

  • Posted by: diva89 Master Fan // Thu, 30 May 2013 08:56pm

    i like shopping both in store and online

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Sun, 16 June 2013 11:19am

    If I am happy with a product it does not matter how I purchase it. I love the here and now factor of mall shopping, but sometimes internet purchases are necessary.

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Thu, 24 April 2014 07:06pm

    I like to buy in department stores, this way I end up spending less money because I’ve had more time to think if I need or really want the item.

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