I know there aren’t infinite versions of every potential product, but sometimes it feels like it—so when you’re shopping for a new sweater or a new electric teakettle or a new lamp, how do you know that you’re choosing the best one?
Yes, you could spend your time scrolling through customer feedback, cross-checking product review sites like The Inventory, and searching Instagram for images of the product in action. I’ve lost hours to that kind of thing, trying to determine which appliance was really the most durable, which pair of athletic shoes would provide the most cushion, and which Amazon reviews could actually be trusted.
And then I realised I could just order two or three versions of the same basic item, examine them myself, and return the ones I didn’t want.
You’ll want to check return/refund policies before putting this strategy into action, of course. You’ll also want to make sure that your finances can absorb the cost of all the purchases you plan to make—and that you’ll have enough time in your schedule to send back the products you don’t plan on keeping. The last thing you want is to get stuck with three light therapy lamps in your home (and on your credit card) when you only need one.
But the moment when I realised that I didn’t have to spend another second of my evening reading shoe reviews—that I could just buy all three of the pairs I was considering, try them on at home, and send two of them back—was a game changer.
It’s worth noting that, once the shoes or appliances or shiny lamps actually arrive, you may find yourself wanting to keep more than one of them. This is actually a tried-and-true sales technique; the idea is that once you have a product in your home, even if it’s just to test it out, it becomes yours—and you start telling yourself that you’d rather have the item than the money.
So don’t buy anything you can’t afford, even if you tell yourself you’re going to send it back later. (You should also be aware that Amazon has reportedly banned the accounts of people who made too many returns, so... be judicious, ok?)
But if you can afford to buy a bunch of different products at once and have enough time to send back everything that doesn’t work for you, it’s a really great way to streamline your shopping.