If you are a bargain shopper, the internet can prove very useful when it comes to shopping for discount cosmetics. With
the click of a button you can peruse many products without leaving the comfort of your home. This puts an end to time
wasted rummaging through discount bins trying to find decent items amongst the seconds and products nearing their expiration date. It also puts an end to traveling around to multiple stores to save a dollar here and there.
However, with so many online cosmetic stores it can be difficult to determine which sites you can trust to provide quality products and reliable service. It can be even more difficult to ascertain which site really does offer the best value
for money. This report looks at two popular discount cosmetics websites, StrawberryNET and elf, to assess which is the best.
Elf stand for Eyes lips and face, and this cosmetics brand believes “ innovative technology, quality ingredients and superb delivery systems should not be limited to prestige retailers. Every woman should have the opportunity to participate in
innovation, without sacrificing her budget”. The site launched in 2004.
StrawberryNet is a Hong Kong based company that has been in operation since 1996. They sell genuine brand name beauty products that are purchased duty free and can be shipped anywhere in the world.
Both brands offer new cosmetics products at prices lower than many retail stores. Let’s take a closer look at their product
StrawberryNET aims to offer the cheapest prices on the net for the brands they sell. If you find cheaper prices they encourage you to contact them with your findings so they can look at adjusting their prices. Depending on where you reside, you will find many products are 20-60% cheaper than recommended retail prices. However be aware that they tend to sell prestige brands, so although discounted many of the prices are far from bargain basement prices. The price point tends to start at around $10-$15 for more affordable brands and can run to $50 or more per item for brands like Chanel. Even discounted, many products are more expensive than the real steals you can find at elf store such as; $1.00 due eye shadows, or $1.00 lipsticks.
Brand name products
StrawberryNet offers a wide range of brand name products. You will find favorites like Chanel, Bloom, Christian Dior, Elizabeth Arden, Dr Hauschka, Estee Lauder, Jane Iredale, Khiels, MAC, ModelCo and Yves St Laurent.
StrawberryNet offers free worldwide shipping for makeup products. The shipping is also quite prompt. They advertise 4-6 days for orders to capital cities around the world and I have found this to be the case.
This site regularly offers free gift promotions. New customers get a free gift, and existing customers are often offered free gifts. The free gifts are typically full size products, or make up palettes.
At StrawberryNet the more you shop with them, the greater the discount they will offer you. After one order they will offer you 1% extra off the total price of your next order. After you fifth order this climbs to 4% and after your 20th order you receive 10% off all future orders. Elf doesn’t appear to have a loyalty program.
Product range and availability
StrawberryNet offers many different brands, but they don’t always carry a large range of products for each brand. For example, when it comes to eye shadow the colors they stock are often limited.
Navigating the StrawberryNet website can be difficult if you are not in search of a specific product, as products are only listed by brand, rather than category. If you are looking for say a lipstick and want to see what all the brands offer, you hae to click on a brand, then select the product catergory and after this the results will be displayed. StrawberryNet does have a serach box, but I’ve found this doesn’t return very good results. I find elf store a much easier site to navigate, you can search by a specific product category, look for gift ideas, see bestsellers or new products.
The pricing at Elf store is undoubtedly one of its greatest drawcards. You will find all sorts of cosmetics from just $1.00, such as; lipstick, eye shadow, mascara, false eyelashes, and brushes and tools. These are typically the more basic items; other items are typically between $3-$8. You will also find great value sets, like one of Oprah’s favorites the e.l.f. Studio Endless Eyes Pro Eyeshadow Palette. This palette includes 100 eye shadow colors and if you buy it when they have an offer going you will pay as little as $10. The regular price is $20.
Elf states that all their products are not tested on animals and they are currently partners with PETA in the caring consumer project. If it is important to you to buy cruelty free products you will find it much easier to shop at elf store, because all products have this guarantee. When you shop at StrawberryNet you will have to do your own research on the individual brands they carry, to determine which brands are not tested on animals.
Elf store allows consumers to rate their products. This transparency allows you to see how a product rates and read the comments people make about the products. In the rating section you will find pros, cons and best uses for the products. In many instances the reviewer will also create a profile that states their style, age and skin tone. This allows you to determine whether you are likely to have similar needs to the reviewer. Buying online can be difficult because you can’t test the product, but the comments reviewers leave can answer many of the questions you may have. At StrawberryNet there is no published feedback. However be mindful that Elf stores overall ratings on independent sites don’t tend to be as high as on their own website. On some sites they only get a 2.5 out of 5 rating and customers warn that you only get what you pay for.
In addition to great prices, Elf store often has special offers running. You will find coupon codes on many sites, and they often offer free products for orders above a small minimum of say $15. For example, a recent free gift was a 32 piece eye shadow palette. They also run shipping promotions from time to time like $1.98 Columbus day shipping for orders over $15.
Elf store only ships their products to the U.S, which is bad news for anywhere who lives elsewhere. There are other country specific versions of the site such as http://www.eyeslipsface.co.uk/ or www.elfcosmetics.com.au but these online stores don’t offer the same low prices that the original elf store does.
Shipping time and cost
Regular shipping typically ranges from $6.95-$14.95 and can take 15 or more days to get to the West Coast of the USA. If you are only looking for one or two products the shipping price can really add to your order. If you are prepared to wait and are looking at buying multiple items Elf’s shipping practices might not worry you, but if you only want one item a StrawberryNet product may be just as cheap when you factor in their free postage. In addition StrawberryNet shipping tends to be quite quick.
The two brands are really neck and neck when it comes to overall value. So it really depends on your personal needs. The bottom line is that if you are looking for the cheapest products Elf will most likely fit the bill. However, if you are looking for the cheapest prices on brand name cosmetics StrawberryNet is going to be your best bet.
If you live outside the United States StrawberryNet is likely to be your preference, because even if there is a version of an elf store website that service your country the prices are nowhere near as affordable as they are at the original elf store.
If you want peace of mind that you are buying a quality product, StrawberryNet tends to be the better site. Add to this their free and prompt shipping, special offers, and loyalty program and they are likely to be the winner for many.
Image credit: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/72545