Online vs in-store shopping. Where do you flex your credit card?

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 43 Comments

Last night on 60 Minutes I think reporter Charles Wooley was more than a little surprised by just how big online shopping has become.

Charles, clearly you need to get out a bit more.  Or stay home.  On your computer.

Last night's 60 minutes featured a segment about the growth of online shopping. Thoughts?

Last night’s 60 minutes featured a segment about the growth of online shopping. Thoughts?

As I started tweeting about what was being said in this segment, I realised that Styling You readers (and most of you are keen shoppers … using keen in the sense of obsessed) are very pro online-shopping. Particularly from overseas sites where the Aussie dollar is helping our budgets stretch further and shipping is generally free.

Net-A-Porter‘s Natalie Massenet, who very cleverly has amassed a gazillion dollars out of what started as a small operation, explained the appeal of online shopping further.  She likened it to buying a present for yourself. And I get this. There is nothing quite like the arrival on your door step of a gorgeously gift-boxed and wrapped piece of loveliness.

Well, nothing quite like it, except perhaps shopping in store at a boutique or shop where the staff know you by name, know what suits you and often buy six months in advance with you – the individual customer – in mind.

And therein lies the big, yawning shopping divide.

On the one hand, online shopping has made everything so accessible.  It really doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or a remote mining town.  You have access to the same clothing and accessories as the next fashionista. And, having grown up in a country town where a trip to the “big smoke” was my only chance to buy something vaguely like I would see in the pages of Dolly magazine, I’m so for this.

On the other hand, service and that in-store experience is still a high priority for me.  I love a strip shopping precinct and I love a shopping centre experience. When a store is merchandised so well that you can just get “lost” in its style, I do come over all trance like with all manner of items calling out to me to buy them.  And I usually do.

I still love the appeal of in-store shopping. One of my fave strip shopping precincts is James Street in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley. Photo: Tourism Queensland

I still love the appeal of in-store shopping. One of my fave strip shopping precincts is James Street in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Photo: Tourism Queensland

Of course, in this tough retail environment, it’s those stores that do offer that level of customer service and merchandising who will still have people beating down their doors.  The REALLY, REALLY savvy ones are ticking all the essential customer service boxes AND embracing the online environment.

While this may add on an immediate cost to those stores, surely with an expanded market place, they have the opportunity to more than make up for that expenditure.  Customer service is still a priority online – it’s just that it needs to be handled in a different way.

The biggest beef that my Twitter followers had last night was with Australian online sites was the price – of shipping and of the goods themselves.

“I’ll rarely buy from Aussie online retailers unless cheaper products/free shipping.”

“If it’s anything over 30% cheaper online, I’ll frequently overlook the service factor.”

“Aussie stores charge too much for shipping, considering we know what AusPost charges for the same item.”

“I can order a box of books from OS with free shipping but it costs $14.95 to get a top sent from Sportsgirl.”

So, now I’m putting this debate out to you here on the blog, Stylers. 

Have you changed your shopping habits?

Do you shop online more than in store?

What’s your main shopping motivation?

Price or service?

What are your favourite online stores?  And why?

Do you have any advice for people who’ve never shopped online?

Leave your comment below.

POST UPDATE:  US Styling You reader and blogger Alexandra Wrote found this timely online shopping story in Lucky Magazine, warning of the perils of Chardonnay shopping or BUI (Buying Under the Influence).  Are you guilty?

 

Comments 43

  1. I live in a mining town (born & bred) and basically been shopping “online” for 18 years. Back in the days of Myer Direct I single handedly kept the parcel man in business, then I discovered Freemans catalogue from the UK until my husband banned me. Now I shop frequently on Witchery and Birdsnest, having said that if I lived in a City there is no way I would give up the experience of shopping in store, because I am not flooded with choice I love the shopping experience – touching the fabrics, smelling the leather love it love it love it

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      Hi Simone, lovely to hear from you. Oh, I was a huge Myer Direct fan too. Great to get feedback from you about Witchery and Birdsnest. I have a vision of you on a rare city shopping trip come over all giddy in a good way at the fabrics and the merchandising!

  2. Hi Nikki
    I couldn’t agree more with your Twitter followers in that price is a big issue for me, and was in fact one of the first reasons I started shopping online. I was recently in Canada, where I saw the exact same pair of Michael Kors shoes that I had recently purchased in Australia, but for $130 less (and they were both full price, RRP).
    Retailers in Australia need to focus more on customer service and provide an exciting in-store experience for their customers. Thanks to my online shopping directory I almost never shop in actual physical stores anymore because I don’t enjoy the experience of going in to a store.
    Also, nothing beats opening up a parcel to find a NET-A-PORTER box!

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  3. Well I am sooo behind the times, only discovered blogs in the past month, and now online shopping although have yet to purchase. Via your blog I have found Trenery and Birdsnest loved both especially Birdsnest’s Shop by Body Shape and Shop by Outfit. For a girl who is clueless how to put a look together this is a godsend and unlike look books in magazines you can shop the entire outfit at one location. In the past I have mainly shopped at the large retailers Myer, David Jones etc and no customer service does not come to mind. I have always had that Pretty Women shopping experience to aspire to but alas not experienced it yet.

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  4. I do a lot of online shopping as always too busy to leave the office.
    I do agree with the postage costs being excessive here in Australia and there is no real need.
    I don’t charge ANY postage for my humble Little White T shirt shipping in Australia!! As never had anything go missing and one T-shirt costs me $1.20 to post so why charge extra!

    XX

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  5. Living in one of those remote mining towns the shopping can be pretty ordinary. I am a well seasoned online shopper and I’m turning more and more to the us stores as there is so much more choice and prices (including shipping) are competitive if not cheaper, particularly when you take advantage of end of season sales which completely work in our favour. However, for me, nothing beats the boutique shopping experience. Tatum xx

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      1. When we first left the city I lived in Mt Isa, that was in 1999 so I remember what it was like and it wasn’t good ;)…for ages my local options were Just Jeans and a small boutique. .I think the first time I did any online shopping for clothes (for myself) would have been when I was pregnant with #2 in 2003…even when I left there in 2007 online fashion shopping was nothing like it is now, it has come a long long way in the last 3-4 years from what it was!

        Loving the new online store finds in the comments 🙂

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  6. I shop online more and more. I use eBay, made it, Etsy and some stores like Country Road. My favourite is Birdsnest. I do pay for postage, but I figure by the time I use petrol and muck around with car parking, food… I actually save by doing it at home.
    Birdsnest do express post, and each time you purchase you get a hand written note – it’s not much, but it’s more customer service than I get in most stores. They have a no questions asked return policy too, and have a good range of clothes. I like the quick turn around on orders, knowing that I usually get my clothes the day after I order them.
    For me the trick is to know what size I am in different brands, and what cuts and styles suit me.
    The best thing is I can shop at home, when I have the time. I love it!

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          1. Am also a massive Birdsnest fan. I adore shopping at Chatswood Chase and miss Doncaster in Melbourne terrible, but I just can’t find the time to get to the shops. Last few purchases have been Birdsnest and I love that I can order one morning and receive first thing following day. Feels efficient and happy to pay shipping for convenience.

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  7. I love Modcloth. Some of my best buys are from this site, but shipping is expensive. That being said, it is worth it – I did all my Chrissy shopping with them last year. One click shop. I got a cool Owl cup for my owl obsessed friend, vintage-looking copies of Alice in Wonderland and a book by Bike Snob.

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  8. I’m a massive online shopper and was also surprised at how clueless Charles seemed to be over it’s popularity. My main reason for shopping online is the range of products but also service – I think it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when a computer gives me better service than a real person. I also find that the big stores (myer, DJs etc.) put so little thought into their merchandising – I rarely find myself getting overcome with the urge to buy. Take DJs in Queens Plaza (Brisbane). Supposed to be a flagship store for the department chain, I literally cannot go into the womens section without stepping on clothes that have fallen off their racks and have been left on the floor. It’s messy, depressing and does not encourage me to part with my hard earned. I still have my favourite boutiques (Littlelace in Elizabeth Arcade, City Dweller in Broadway on the Mall) but it’s all about online for me.

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  9. I love shopping online and I have found alot of websites but one in particular is ruby maine it has a lot of unique brands and brands that i love – shipping is $10 and free if you spend over $200 and exchanges are free……………Love It !!!!!

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  10. I browse online a lot, then go into the store with specific items in mind to try on. It cuts out a lot of wandering about. But I buy certain things online, mainly from America. Like my swimmers which retail for $250 here, I get sent from the USA for $90.

    But nothing beats the flick through of the rack. x

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  11. There may have been a time when I was well-known by the boutique owners up and down Oxford & Queen Streets. Yes a little bit of a problem when your husband wonders why they all know your name…

    I still love to shop, but I like to stretch my budget further. So online overseas and vintage (upmarket secondhand) gets my big tick these days.

    I have learnt what styles suit, which brands I like.
    I also do not want to be wearing the same outfit as every other mother in the neighbourhood – which can happen. I understand why some people prefer to shop with the help of the retail Assistant.

    It’s just not for me…price and an individual look win out over service.x

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  12. For clothes I like to be able to try them on and see how they sit and fit on me before purchasing. However if i can get it cheaper online I will after trying it on in a store, because the cheaper my purchases the more bang I can get for my buck.
    Other things that I don’t feel like I need to see in person first I would order online if I could. It’s more convenient, usually cheaper (even with shipping) and the service is usually much better than the angsty teenager in the store.

    If you’ve never shopped online and are looking to, then try well known companies first. Say a place your shop regularly so you have an idea of the quality of product you’re getting and for how much. Then slowly venture out of your comfort zone when you feel ready.

    My favourite online stores are usually small WAHM stores with handmade goods. I love to support a fellow mother trying to make some money, and lets face it handmade things? Gorgeous!

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  13. I do love browsing online stores (Asos.com, saksfifthave.com, victotiassecret.com just to name a few) and the BEST (and pretty much cheapest) pair of bikini’s I have ever bought come from Victoria’s Secret HOWEVER, I still find I need to try things on most of the time. I have quite a curvy shape and I find that probably 90% of clothes online would not suit me, I would rather try things on first. I probably feel safer buying accessories – shoes, bags etc online because the fit is not so much of a issue.

    Now saying all that, I spend over $200 last night online at Saks Fifth Ave (Tory Burch wedges and Marc Jacobs bikinis) and can not WAIT for my parcel to arrive! x

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  14. I am 50/50. Funnily enough, I shop for gifts online. Christmas time is almost entirely done on the internet. But if I’m shopping for me, I like the whole retail experience IRL. Although when we lived in Tassie, where baby items were in short supply, everything was bought online too. Guess it just depends on what you’re buying and who it is for.

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      I’m 50-50 but in that 50-50 is definitely stuff for me. Hazard of my job is the amount of browsing I do in name of research! Still love my favourite stores and boutiques though. Husband is scared that they know me so well!!

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