Online Shopping Sense
In January 2020, I spoke at the Jackson (Michigan) library about organizing your wardrobe. My preparation for “Closet Re-Do: RE-DUCE, RE-USE, RE-STYLE”, pushed me to think harder about my own wardrobe. Little did any of us know at the time…that a portion of our wardrobes would be on hold while we quarantined and our lifestyles started making some unprecedented changes.
In March and April 2020, we couldn’t enter stores, unless essential, we couldn’t go to restaurants, and a lot of people started working from home. Hopefully this period in our lives is over and the sad deaths and division we have seen will not repeat itself.
One of the changes that was accelerated by the COVID virus is an increase in online shopping. You may have already witnessed vacancies in your mall and stores stocking leaner inventory as more people turn to online. CNBC reported this month that the UBS is predicting 40,000-50,000 US retail stores will close in the next 5 years. Fortune.com reported in January of 2021 that 12,200 big and small retailers shut their doors and/or locations for good in 2020.
You may love the convenience of shopping online, and I do too, when I am buying office supplies or my favorite protein powder, but NOT when I am buying apparel. What I have learned about my online shopping habits is that I may be in the mood when I hit “submit my order”, but when the package arrives, I am not in the mood to try it on. Sometimes the package sits for a few days, until my bedroom becomes a fitting room. Unfortunately, my bedroom has no salesperson to bring me another size and no girlfriend to give me an opinion, unless you count the looks my cat gives me. The one thing my bedroom and the store fitting room do have in common, is more often than not, things don’t fit or don’t look good on me. Instead of leaving the clothes in the fitting room or returning them to the rack, I now need to repackage the items, get a return label and prepare for pick up. A week or two later I have to check my credit card to make sure the return was processed so I know I got my money back. I find all of this inconvenient.
My “Closet Re-Do” presentation helped me name the criteria I use when shopping:
- I want it to fit
- I want it to flatter
- I want it to be comfortable
- I want it to be current (not the same as trendy but close)
- I want to love it!
I use criteria when shopping online too, but I won’t know how it fits, flatters or feels until I try it on. When I am online I need to depend on my eyes to look more closely at photos, read the descriptions, fabric content and reviews, all in the hope that I’ll increase my odds of success and have fewer returns to manage.
Here are a few things I do to help me make better online selections and decrease my return risk:
- I don’t buy patch pockets on blouses, odds are they aren’t flattering on me.
- I don’t buy dropped shoulders, dolman sleeves or oversized looks because structured is usually better for me.
- I measure my favorite jackets, sweaters, dresses, pants and shorts to compare…especially the length.
- I start with the brands I know and hesitate with the ones I don’t. I prefer to try on a new brand in the store first.
- I look at the item in other colors because an item shown in black may not show the details as well as it does in red.
I encouraged my library audience to develop their own criteria. It’s helpful when making decisions about what you already own as well as when purchasing new…whether you purchase it online or in-store. I do believe I have spent less over the past two years because I don’t like the work of returns, but I also think that the small specialty apparel stores may see an increase in business from those of us who enjoy shopping with our other senses.