As a guy who frequently shops online, one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not it's worth pulling the trigger is how much it will cost me to get the stuff shipped. Thankfully, sites like Zappos, Mr Porter and Club Monaco currently offer free shipping on every order, while brands like the Gap offer free shipping on orders after a certain dollar amount. When this happens, I have to see if there's something else I'd really like to tack on to an order, or consider paying upwards of eight to ten additional dollars in shipping costs for something as trivial as a pair of socks. And sometimes, it just isn't worth it.
I've sold on eBay and clothing forums before, so I know for plenty of smaller businesses and shops, shipping stuff around the country is not cheap. And shipping stuff internationally is even more expensive. That really sucks for consumers like me who have a taste for goods made in Japan or want to make a purchase from sites like Tres Bien or End Clothing—where shipping can run upwards of twenty dollars.
The worst part is when you fork over the cash, own up to the shipping costs and the stuff you ordered doesn't even fit you right, or the color just isn't what you thought it would be, or the material just isn't up to snuff. Then you'll not only have to pay a fee to have it shipped back to the retailer, sometimes they'll even charge a small restocking fee, something that larger sites like Gilt are guilty of. Which is a shame for the consumer, who is essentially paying $15 to try something on and be disappointed if it doesn't fit or just isn't the garment they hoped it'd be.
This can also be a real hassle when you're actually in a brick-and-mortar store and they're sold out of your size. I can't count the times this has happened to me at a J.Crew. The caveat there is they offer an in-store service that lets you order the item from the web shop, and ship it to you, free of charge! However, it only applies to full-priced items, and won't come in handy for seasoned bargain hunters. That's where the quandary of shipping costs really hits home: is 40% off an item really worth it when you have to pay 30% of the selling price to have it shipped to you?
Personally, I've learned to accept that when it comes to sales tax versus shipping, the latter actually saves me some cash in terms of big ticket items, like a great winter coat. And also, I've learned to tame my trigger finger a little better when it comes to seeing great deals online. Sometimes, that impulse buy, when combined with shipping costs, is a little too good to be true.