As our time becomes more and more precious, many of us are moving to more online shopping, whether it’s for our home, office, or for our clothes, the benefits and perceived ease of shopping online have made a huge shift in customer experience, but what are the benefits?
I wanted to share a few of the pros and cons to taking ourselves out to a store, versus shopping through online sites and apps, as well as the new trends coming through to stores to make the in-store shopping experience completely different to what we may be used to.
The Benefits of Shopping Online:
With online shopping, it can be a huge benefit to your time when you are able to just pick and choose from a huge range of options. The likes of Asos, Jacamo, and other app-based retail stores can be truly enticing to those of us who have very busy lives. These online stores even have options like “next day delivery” and recommended items based on previous purchases you have made, which makes it almost feel like a personalised experience.
The Downfalls of Online Shopping:
Now, as a personal stylist, I see these benefits as an excellent source for my clients who need a specific item that they need urgently (such as for a last minute invitation to a dinner party), or for basic items they know fit and look great. That’s where the big shift happens – you cannot try these items on!
When you are purchasing from online stores you aren’t able to pick up a couple of sizes and try them on to see which one fits best, you just have to hope that the style will work to your figure and not let you down when the package arrives and you try on the purchases in your home. You may feel like trying on at home is a more comfortable option, and I completely understand this, but then you have to go through the returns process, adding more time-sapping excursions to your seemingly time-saving experience.
I have some good news for you - the old days of feeling caged in a tiny changing room, heating up as you go in and out of items you have picked up whilst walking through the store, have gone!
The Benefits of Shopping In-Store:
When you head to a retail store, you will not only be able to pick and choose from a great selection of items, but you will also be able to check if an item truly fits, and suits your figure. It also is a great place to be able to find new styles you may not have thought work on you, as you are seeing them hung on a hanger, rather than on a model that may have been photoshopped, when you see it online. Retail stores have a host of different sizing for you to choose from, and you can always ask an assistant for their support if you need to go up or down a size when trying on, rather than having to return an item and hope to receive another in a few days!
If you are going to a retail store, you will also usually have the benefit of being able to visit other stores nearby, as most shops in London are located on high streets with other alternative shops nearby, thus creating an experience that if you can’t find what you are looking for in one shop, there will be plenty of other options that you can try on. Then, when you are all shopped-out, you can visit your favourite café for some time out to enjoy lunch – one of my other favourite things to do!
The Downfalls of Shopping In-Store:
Although I have shared a good number of benefits of shopping in-store, there are, of course, some downfalls. The biggest is that we have to get to the shop to be able to get the clothes, whether you are heading to central London on a train, or have to drive and pay for parking, it does take out time from your day that you may not have had to spend shopping from your living room. Sometimes we need time out of the house, but if you are just not feeling going out to try on clothes and bringing bags back, then online shopping can be the answer, if you are in need of an item for a particular event.
One of the common misconceptions that I hear about shopping in-store is that they are not inviting, and this brings me onto…
Fashion trends – Experiential Retail
Technology and experience are coming a long way when it comes to retail shopping, and the new trend of experiential retail shopping is one I can truly get on board with. From retail stores using virtual mirrors that enable you to “try on” a multitude of items without ever getting changed, to cafes and art being an integral part of retail stores to create a better experience for your shopping trip – shops are working hard to ensure you are relaxed, taken care of, and your shopping experience is one you will want to take your time with.
I love seeing how stores are working to create a new vibe within their stores – The House of Vans in London has created a location space within 30,000 square feet, which houses art, music, BMX, street culture and fashion together in one space that has a skate park, cinema, café, live music venue and an art gallery. The space was designed by skaters, the Vans’ ultimate target audience, and they have truly let the space speak for its fans. They host sessions for BMX riders, and customers are actively encouraged to walk in on the day. This space truly highlights how experiential retail is working to help retail brands and their customers have more than “just a shop”.
Image via Skateparks
It’s not to say that we should expect skate parks or Afternoon Tea to be available in every shop we enter, but we can begin to see that our experiences when shopping are becoming more and more enjoyable. Retailers see that we want more from the stores we visit, no more warm changing rooms, terrible lighting, and terrible customer service. We want to be understood as customers, and when we enter our favourite store, we should not want to leave.
What do you prefer? Are you an online shop lover, or do you enjoy going to shops and trying on in-person? I’d love to hear from you! If you are worried about where to shop, or are having a wardrobe meltdown, I’d love to help build your confidence with a personal shopping session, this is a step into the world of shopping for yourself that will give you the knowledge and insight into shopping for your style and body shape.