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.
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.
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?