I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. Online versus in store shopping.
I mean it wasn’t so long ago that we were all petrified of it. Or was that just me?
We were convinced our credit cards would be taken for a ride somewhere by someone who knew how best to ride them. I kind of knew I was always safe as more often than not my poor little over-worked and under-loved rectangle of plastic was maxed out or close enough to being maxed out.
Now it seems we’ve very much gotten over ourselves with a recent study has finding that 85% of Australians have shopped online. The same study found that in any given week three-quarters of us still do most of our shopping in store. Yep, I thought, that sounds just about right.
It was this stat, however, that got me thinking:
When Australians considered the statement “I think it’s wrong to get a shop assistant to show you something in-store and then go and buy it online”, 39% agreed and 29% disagreed.
Hold on a minute.
So almost a third of us who shop online think it’s ok to go into a physical store, talk to a “real” sales person or store owner, try on a pair of shoes or a new frock, only to leave and hunt down that same item online?
I’m not comfortable with that. AT ALL.
Sure, it’s not illegal but it kind of crosses my personal ethics’ boundaries. Sure you could nab a bargain but at whose expense?
I checked in with the Styling You Facebook community too. I wanted to gauge their response. Would they do this? Have they done it?
Here are just some of the responses:
- Penny Webb: I’m the same. If it fits I’ll buy it then and there. I need instantaneous gratification. It’s part of my retail process
- Jana Karen: Mizzi sometimes I browse online then go instore to try on & buy. Sometimes I see something in store but dont buy at the time then I buy on sale online !
- Deb Hodgon: If I go to all of the trouble of trying something on in the store, then I’m going to buy it. I hate shopping online anyway. Takes the fun out of shopping
- Evelyn Robinson: I’m more inclined to browse online, then go try it on and buy it in a store. It’s called “research” haha
- Hannah Lundberg: I will for big ticket items. Australian markup is just too much on some things.
- Bronwyn Orsatti: I buy online but make sure the returns policy allows for me to exchange in store if size wrong (or if looks hideous on). Don’t have time to shop in store for me (without kids)
- Lynny Hailes: I use both options depending on what I’m wanting to buy. I’ve never gone into a store though to try something on for size so I can buy online at a cheaper price. It’s not a practice that feels right to me.
- Rochelle Taylor: If I see it in store and like it then I’ll buy it then and there. Although on one occassion I did buy a Fendi bag from Nieman Marcus but I first went to DJ’s to have a look at the style. DJs didn’t have the colour I was after anyway so I didn’t feel guilty about buying from overseas.
But it was perhaps the responses I received from two people who work in the Australian boutique game who really made me think and prompted me to blog further about the topic here.
Linda Nogara: Ohh this question really gets my blood boiling. Buying online will eventually lead to a huge problem of loss of jobs. Remember that small business is the biggest employer in Australia, and workers in OZ are amongst the highest paid in the world! Stores in Melbourne are already trying to charge people for trying on. This in it self is ridiculous but what hope do they have of surviving. Before the end of the year you will see many more Australian brands go under. Iconic brands that can’t compete with overseas markets. I urge you to think hard about buying online. You may save a buck or two but you will most definitely be taking a job away from someone you know! That or take a pay cut of about 80% to be on the same wage as an American sales assistant! Australian sales assistant is on about $25 per hour, and US is on about $5. Just saying … online serves a purpose, I am not doubting that and yes there are many Australian stores that have an online presence and there are also many products that are not available here at all. But when a person uses a local store to try on and then goes off shore to save a buck this is down right wrong. I would not supply one of my overseas stores and give them the right to sell online to Australian clients as our wage conditions and taxes etc are so different and I want to protect my stockists in this country.
Katrina Mellon: So heartening to read your comments Linda Nogara!! My husband and I have a small retail business selling a European footwear brand and we have many customers every week trying on shoes, writing the details down and then walking out. We even have people trying to swap their online purchases with us! We used to have two outlets and employ seven staff. We have had to close one store and now only my husband works in the store. We unfortunately, cannot compete with prices offered by the European internet stores who can buy direct from the supplier, while we have to purchase via a distributor who whacks a huge margin on the wholesale price! Our future in retail is pretty bleak. If only more people thought like you Linda! One day, people will walk down their high street and wonder where all the little independent boutiques have gone.
Here’s MY take on the online versus in-store shopping debate:
1. Online shopping is a fashion leveller. I grew up in a regional town where if you wanted to buy new clothes you mostly had to drive three hours to the capital city. Not any more. It doesn’t matter where you live in Australia, the fashion can come to you.
2. Online shopping is convenient. If you have small children or had small children you will remember how much of a drama it was to even get out the door, let alone achieve anything clothes shopping wise for yourself. Even if your children are older or you don’t have them, we seem to have less time for an in-store browse. Even if I don’t click the checkout button on a store’s website, I’ll often be found browsing online with a view to buying online – or the next day or week in the physical version of that online store. As a few people said above, that’s research!
3. If you can’t beat them, join them. I have a number of favourite independent boutiques here where I live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. I’ve been advising them since the GFC hit to get their business online – as a way to help keep their physical store door open. Why? Because of the two reasons above. Online fashion retail done well can give a physical store a reach well beyond their current customer market.
4. Remember that many independent Australian online stores need your support too. Yes, our physical store retailers are taking a hit but helping an online Australian independent retailer is just as good for our retail economy.
5. Respect in store Australian retailers. Please don’t go into their store where they pay high rents and wages, try on your fancy shoes and walk out minutes later to buy on your smartphone from a cheaper overseas outlet. Think of the bigger picture.
For all the reasons above I’m hugely passionate about supporting the Australian retail industry and because I’m playing in the online space. Styling You readers are not necessarily sitting minutes from a city shopping centre or high street so online shopping is a huge focus here.
That’s why every Sunday I feature and profile a new Online Shopping Find. Plus, I’m extremely grateful for the independent online retailers who support this blog by directing some of their marketing budget to Styling You. If you haven’t had a chance to click through to visit some of these retailers, please do.
As a bit of encouragement, I’ve created an Online Outfit of the Week … just from the independent online retailers who advertise here. Yep, that’s an unapologetic disclosure. It’s all a part of the retail wheel of support and I, for one, do not want to see our independent boutiques and designers shut up shop.
In future weeks, the Online Outfit of the Week will also feature retailers beyond those who advertise here but this new post series will also support Australian online retailers – those with and without and physical store.
1. Bondi Beach Company Hat @ Sequins & Sand $39.95 | 2. Josette top @ Sancerre $110 | 3. Angular bangles coming soon to Uberkate | 4. Bella Lido Roman sandal $109.95 | 5. Feathers Cocktail pants $199 | 6. Renee Blackwell Design owl pendant $280
Oops, I realise that’s a bit of brain dump for a Thursday. Hope that was ok with you? I’d love to keep the conversation going, though.
What are you thoughts re online shopping and the ethics around trying something on in a physical Australian store and then buying for cheaper online? What are the best things about online shopping for you? What do you love about going into a store to shop?