Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Buying crafting supplies online - what to look out for

This is a collaborative post

Purchasing anything online comes with many challenges and considerations that you should remain aware of. Whether you’re an experienced internet user or rarely browse the web, there are hurdles and risks which can cause you some significant problems. 

At the same time, there are things to watch out for that could give you better deals and help you to find exactly what you’re looking for, as well as some unexpected delights. To help you on the journey of buying your new crafting supplies online, we’ve put together this handy guide for you to use during the process.

Check Catalogues

If a supplier offers a catalogue, it may be worthwhile to sign up for one of these. These may contain deals and sale items that may only be available when purchasing via a catalogue, and you may even be able to sign up for special member deals and offers when subscribing to the catalogue. Remember that if you choose to begin purchasing your supplies using a catalogue and shopping online, make sure you remain aware of other hidden costs, especially on cheaper items. 

Rainbow of paper on shelves
Photo credit shawnanggg via Unsplash

Be Aware Of Shipping Costs

One of these costs you need to be conscious of will likely be delivery costs. Cheap items may seem like a fantastic deal and could easily be the best price you’ve seen on that particular item, but it may actually benefit you to choose a higher-priced item with free shipping compared to paying for a heavily discounted item. 

Don’t forget that there are also some scammers out there that claim that you only need to pay shipping costs on certain items, so keep your wits about you here. Depending on where the items are purchased from, geographically, as well as which delivery services that supplier has available, you may find that you’re paying a small fortune on delivery, far outweighing what you’d pay for buying a more expensive item. Keep your wits about you, and don’t rush into a purchase without calculating the best deal possible.

Consider Mailing Lists

When you’re searching for new supplies for your craft projects, no matter what that craft is, you will know that there are always changes in stock levels and offerings from many suppliers, whether they’re a physical store or a digital one. To keep track of these stocks, especially when it comes to rare materials that can come and go within a few weeks per year, signing up for mailing lists of suppliers can be extremely useful.

If your favourite online supplier has the option to do this, it may be very worthwhile doing so. Learning that you’ve missed out on a new supply of rare wool for a knitting project, for example, can be extremely frustrating and may even scupper the progress of your project for weeks or even months.

Keep An Eye On Reviews

When you’re unsure about an item, whether you’re not confident about the quality, size, colour or authenticity, it’s always worth reading reviews both on-site and off-site. You’ll find many suppliers will have the option for users to leave reviews about the items they’ve bought, providing answers to some of your potential questions before you even have to ask. 

Remember that some suppliers may be tempted to remove overly negative yet informative reviews in the hope to avoid buyers from being dissuaded, although many will steer clear of this unethical and deceptive tactic. However, this is why it’s worth checking reviews about the website itself from external sources in case you’re unsure about trusting that particular site.

Coloured cotton in shop display
Photo credit H├ęctor J. Rivas via Unsplash

Be Wary Of Scams

One of the most important things to be wary of when buying online from suppliers is scammers. When it comes to selling raw materials, as with many other things of value, there is always the chance that unsavoury individuals will be trying to deceive buyers with fake or poor-quality items. You may find that you never even receive the items you pay for together. 

There is also the chance that you could fall for a delivery phishing scam when you’ve purchased anything online. When you’ve ordered a particular item, you’ll likely be waiting for that delivery excitedly. Only to find that you’ve received a text message saying that your package wasn’t delivered, has been cancelled, or is delayed, suggesting that you click a link to rectify the situation. Remember to never click a link like this unless you can ensure it’s from the seller. Online tracking information will be updated with any official delays or failed deliveries, so it’s best to always check those first before acting. 

Visit Trusted And Secure Sites

Another great tip when buying your crafting supplies online is to stick to reputable sellers and sites. You may find that you want to go exploring for other sellers that may offer some more favourable deals and discounts, but the further afield you go, the more likely you are to stumble on a site that doesn’t have the customer’s best interests at heart. 

This is true especially if that site is not fully encrypted and secured. Even if the sellers themselves are trustworthy, entering your details on a site that doesn’t have an SSL certificate can leave your data exposed to hackers and cybercriminals who may steal your information or even your payment details.

Stay On The Lookout For Rare Supplies

When shopping online, you have much more access to a wider range of products and supplies that you may not find in your local craft shop. While local stores may be able to order these items for you, cutting out the middleman and locating these items yourself can be much faster, and you may even get a better deal. Shipping from overseas may provide you with some exotic materials for your next craft project, so keep an eye on your favourite suppliers and stay signed up to those mailing lists.

Follow Trusted Crafters

As with many other hobbies, crafts are home to many communities and influential individuals who offer advice and helpful discussion to others in these crafting communities. It’s worth listening to those that have been involved in this hobby for longer than yourself, as they’ll have a wealth of experience to offer you and others around you. 

Of course, many of these individuals may become sponsors or influencers and therefore may not recommend the best products or sellers and might instead be only championing those they’re paid to sponsor. However, the chances are they’re still not going to damage their reputation by sponsoring a poor service or seller, and it may be worth listening to their suggestions.

Use Bulk Discounts

Many crafters get involved with the help of friends and family who’ve influenced them, or you might be the one that’s got your friends hooked on this fun new crafting hobby. Whichever applies to you, if you’ve got friends and family with this common interest, it could be extremely beneficial to buy your supplies and tools in bulk to make use of bulk discounts and cheaper shipping costs. 

For example, if a supplier charges a rather expensive delivery cost, instead of all of you buying things individually whenever you need them, you can pool your funds together and get everything you need in one order, saving everyone a small amount. You may also find that some suppliers offer free delivery on orders over a certain amount of money. Finding ways to make these orders cheaper without sacrificing quality or even specific items is always worthwhile.

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