I recently bought a Boden sweater for less than $10. No, I did not find my bargain at a local goodwill or thrift store; in fact, I bought a brand new sweater shipped directly from Boden. Even though I cannot guarantee the strategies stated below are going to land you the same deal, they can give you extra savings if you follow them right.
British clothing brand Boden has steadily made its name known to American urbanites during the past decade. Especially after former First Lady Michelle Obama donned pieces from its catalogues, the brand has been catapulted to immediate popularity. Even in the secondhand clothing market, Boden items are more sought after than domestic high street fashion brands and usually hold decent resale value. Boden is not terribly expensive, but it is not cheap either. For example, a winter jacket sells for anywhere between two to three hundred, and a spring knit can be close to a hundred.
Boden is the very antithesis to boredom. What I really like about Boden is its use of bright colors and bold prints. True, some of its collection may be a bit flashy and garish, which I normally avoid; but I like to go through its catalogues and pick one or two items for each season. All of those pieces lighten up my wardrobe. Even for classic pieces like stripe knits and solid color tunics, Boden brings unique design and individuality to them.
Two weeks ago, I paid $7.04 for a navy square neck sweater (typically $98), a popular item in Boden’s spring collection. If you are a person who is keen on staying chic and comfortable but don’t feel like paying in full for any clothes, you should continue reading.
Wait for a Sale Event
When I talk about “a sale event,” I am not referring to the 10% to 15% discount on full-price items Boden almost always has by default. During a major sale event, usually towards the end of each season, prices of select items are significantly reduced by varying percentages (i.e., 30%, 40%, or 50%). If you like a particular item, you may be worried that it will get snatched before you place your order. It happens, but rarely. Occasionally in the past, I missed out on a piece because it was so popular that it was sold out before I was even aware. Clothes with cute designs and a good fit come around so often that I figure it is better to keep my wallet zipped.
If you can be patient, chances are you get your bargain when Boden gives further price reductions to sale items. When I placed my order, I received another 20% off on top of the reduced price for the sweater. Usually, this type of clean-out effort happens two seasons after the collection is first released. Spring collection will be cleaned out by the end of summer; and winter collection will go on a clean-out sale by the end of spring. Unless you have to stay on top of fashion trends, it does not hurt to buy clothes two season behind.
Ask to Price Match
In addition to the 20% off discount, I also applied the $10 credit that was put on my account last time when I asked to price match. In the spring, I purchased a couple knits from Boden when they went on sale. I was convinced that they would get sold out if I acted late. But frankly, I cannot say that I don’t have shopper’s remorse because Boden ran a 10% off promotion on all sale items a few days later, then 20% when the sale fell flat. I don’t know for sure why Boden has adopted this strategy lately to increase sale volume. It could be it simply has manufactured more than what the market would want or could afford. Or, Boden no longer holds that status-defining influence without the celebrity endorsement of Michelle Obama or Kate Middleton in the U.S. market. What’s for sure is that its sales and marketing could have done better than cutting prices frequently. Nobody will be happy if the value of a recent purchase does not hold at least for a season, right? Frequent price reductions not only piss off customers but also hurt its brand image. After all, Boden has always striven to maintain an impression that it dresses a middle-class clientele with comfort and style in mind. The current strategy, similar to many discount stores, hardly delivers the laid-back, effortless, and worry-free attitude that Boden wants to get across.
Nonetheless, I reached out to the customer service unit and asked to price match because the price reduction was within 7 days of my last purchase. I was told that Boden “no longer offer[s] price adjustments,” but I was provided a $10 credit (email correspondence dated on July 5, 2021). In fact, $10 is the maximum credit that can be applied on my Boden account, which I assume would apply to every customer. I figured that was better than nothing, and the clothes looked flattering on me, so I kept them without bothering to return for a full refund. I understand if you find it inconvenient or awkward to haggle over $10. I too sometimes find it that way. But in this case, I think it is more of a gesture for service improvement. If you disagree with Boden’s marketing strategy and want a change, you should let them know.
Be on the Lookout for Gift Vouchers
Every now and then, Boden mails out gift vouchers (normally $15 at a time) to registered Boden customers. I was pleasantly surprised to receive two separate vouchers within 2 weeks. Also, Boden allows customers to use more than one voucher at checkout (though I have not been able to test if there is a cap on how many vouchers can be used at checkout). When I received the first one in the mail, I immediately tossed it in the recycle bin since I had yet to recover from the frustration as a result of the whole price match incident. I was glad that I ended up holding on to the first one by not putting the recycling out sooner when the second one arrived. Gift vouchers are like bait. Boden usually mails out a voucher each season to encourage consumption, but it almost never shipped gift vouchers so close together in time. Because each voucher has an expiration date (usually valid for a month upon receipt), it is rare that two vouchers can be used for a single transaction.
To redeem a gift voucher, click on “Checkout now” to be directed to the checkout page. In the third section where you enter your payment information, you should be able to see a line above that says “Apply a gift card,” click on it and enter your gift voucher code in the blank space. Once you hit “ADD” next to it, the voucher will be automatically applied as long as it is considered valid.
Use Shopping Portals to Earn Extra Savings
In my other article, “How to Use Cashback Monitor to Maximize Your Savings,” I have discussed how shopping portals can earn you extra savings. Below is what Cashback Monitor, the reward tracking and comparison tool, has collected about Boden’s reward rate in the past 15 months. The reward rate for Boden has remained steady in the single digits for the most part. The peak (12%) during this period was tracked on October 12, 2020 by Rakuten. 10% was tracked once last August by Rakuten and for an entire month between March and April by Giving Assistant. Keep in mind that the chart only documents single-day best rate across all platforms, which means the day-to-day high point may not be offered by your preferred shopping portal. In fact, I have been primarily shopped through RebatesMe to earn 2.7% for each dollar spent on my recent Boden purchases. I may have missed out on extra savings, but the amount is almost negligible as long as purchasing price is low. Plus, I already have three accounts with Rakuten, TopCashback, and RebatesMe respectively; it is unrealistic to manage so many at the same time. In fact, I don’t think Giving Assistant is going to keep the present momentum for much longer. Once it becomes more established with a consistent, loyal user base, its reward percentage will likely decline.
$7.04*2.7%= approx. $0.2
Check out with PayPal
One last thing I did in my effort to save on this sweater was to check out with PayPal when I finalized my purchase, in lieu of entering my credit card information directly in the payment section. A change in payment method saved me another 5%.
A couple of credit card companies offer bonus cashback/points per quarter in qualifying categories that change each quarter. PayPal purchases have been listed as a qualifying category by both Chase and Discover since 2019. Chase first started to list PayPal in its bonus categories in the second quarter in 2018. Ever since, it has consistently listed it in the fourth quarter (October-December). Discover has added PayPal to its third quarter’s bonus categories since 2019 (July-September).
Unsurprisingly, Discover it credit cardholders can earn a maximum of $75 when shopping at millions of online stores with PayPal between July and September this year. Though nothing has been released about what Chase’s bonus categories will be in the last quarter, it is highly likely that PayPal will be included.
To qualify for the 5% cash back for each dollar spent, all you have to do is to activate it prior to the beginning of each quarter or the latest time allowed by each credit card company.
$7.04*5%= approx. $0.35
In total, I spent $7.04 on the sweater and earned $0.55 cash back on it. If you care to deducting the cash back from the price paid, that makes the final price $6.49! I hope the breakdown of my strategies to score a bargain from Boden help you with your future purchases, especially considering how the markup for the brand has increased over the past few years. Needless to say, I still appreciate the brand for its design and manufacturing of classic, sturdy, and chic styles, and I have no doubt that I will return for more Mini Boden kidswear. I do, however, hope that quality doesn’t have to come at the cost of affordability.
If you are not familiar with Boden and want to give it a try, use my referral code to register, and you will receive 20% off of your first purchase.