Online shopping continues to gain momentum. Having potential wardrobe items shipped to your doorstep still kind of blows my mind because it almost seems to good to be true. But like most things, it has its pros and cons.
Variety: Space is limited in brick-and-mortar stores, but it isn’t limited online. Extended size curves, different length specifications and a larger variety of styles and colours are easily accommodated on a website. And that’s just for stores that have a physical presence. These days some of the most popular retailers are only online. Shopbop, Net-a-Porter, Zappos, Amazon, Yoox, and eBay, to name just a few.
Convenience: You can fill up your online shopping cart at any time. No need to venture out over the weekend when you’d rather be doing something else. You can avoid traffic and the crowds. It’s ideal if you’re not physically up to shopping, are short of time, or live in an area that’s far removed from the retailers that suit your needs. If you are sending someone a gift, an online store will deliver it right to their door — no need to pick it up and ship it yourself.
Practicality & Privacy: You can try on the item in your comfortable dressing room at home. And you can experiment with all the other items in your wardrobe.
No Sales Staff: This is the way to shop if you prefer to bypass sales staff.
Fun: There’s something fun about seeing these boxes arrive on your doorstep. I’m wowed every time I pick a parcel up from our front porch. It makes me feel privileged and spoiled, a little like I’m receiving a gift.
Guessing Game: You can’t feel the fabric, assess the quality of the item, or get an accurate sense of the way an item fits unless you’ve seen the item in person and better yet, tried it on. You end up doing a lot of guesswork when you shop online, ordering items and hoping for the best. Product reviews do help, but will only take you so far.
Dulls the Shopping Experience: Shopping in brick-and-mortar stores can be a fun experience, especially when you’re a social shopper or just love to shop. The online shopping experience is much more solitary and lonely by comparison.
Shipping Costs: Although many US retailers offer free shipping, this is not the case with all of them, and it’s certainly not the case for international shipping. Shipping costs can become exorbitant If you frequently order and return from sites that charge for shipping.
Impractical: The guessing game that accompanies online shopping can lead to frequent returns. Repeatedly opening boxes, resealing them and then dropping them off for return shipping can become frustrating if there isn’t sufficient positive reinforcement.
No Sales Staff: You won’t enjoy the online shopping experience if you rely heavily on the service of sales staff.
As much as I enjoy shopping brick-and-mortar stores, the enormous variety that is available online cannot be beat. That’s why my online shopping activity has increased over the years, especially for footwear.
I do shop online in a different state of mind though. My expectations are lower, and I’m more forgiving with the return process when items don’t work out. Your success rate is unlikely to be higher than the one you have when taking items to the dressing room in a physical store, so returns are inevitable. I only shop online from stores that offer free shipping, and many of the stores that I purchase from accept in-store returns. Since I’m frequently in stores with my clients, it’s a convenient process.
What do you think? Does the good outweigh the bad? Are there any pros or cons I’ve missed? Also, do you ever combine in store and online shopping, say, using your phone to purchase online while you are in a physical store? I’d love to hear your thoughts.