I won’t say a whole lot on the online shopping vs instore shopping right now because I plan to do an article on this next month and don’t want to feel like I’m repeating myself (plus nearly everyone has something to say about it). However, I just discovered that it is actually cheaper for me to purchase J Brand’s jean leggings from shopbop.com than it is to purchase them with my staff discount at the boutique I work in.
One of the reasons behind this is the free shipping that many online stores are now offering. They’re not silly; they know you can be dissuaded from buying that dress or those shoes due to a pesky $10+ shipping fee. That’s $10 you could spent at the supermarket, or on drinks, or on lunch. Online retailers know it’s more beneficial for them to take this cost on themselves than to lose your business. In a way they’re actually smarter than your local boutiques. They’re often tricking you with a $1 saving compared to a brand’s RRP; similar to the way consumers can be subconsciously tricked by the pricing of items for example at $4.95 instead of $5.
A local boutique is convenient, sure. But in today’s economy where many people are becoming more thrifty and are conscious about the small amounts of money that can go to waste. People are now going for the pair of jeans that may save them a mere $3.72 on a pair of jeans that they have to wait an extra week to get; consumers want a bargain and they want competitiveness. The online retailers are smart enough to play into the hands of these consumers, even if it’s less only one dollar less than the price the brand recommends.
In a way it’s sad. I used to think I would remain loyal to my local boutiques no matter what. Unfortunately, I happen to live in a small city and majority of the time, my local boutiques don’t stock certain brands I want, let-a-lone the full range. With Visa-debit cards on the rise, it’s even easier to snub the locals in favour of online retail giants who have large size quantities and often full collections from brands.
One of the other downsides of instore shopping? Local retailers can’t buy in bulk, therefore, the prices can’t be pushed just that little bit cheaper. Your local boutique has to pay for shipping, staff, and much more. Online stores simply need a warehouse, a computer with internet, and a staff who don’t have to engage their consumer to convince them to buy.
In the end, is it really worth seeing your favourite boutique suffer in order to save $3.72? Personally, I think not. I would much rather try on the J Brand jeggings at the boutique I work to ensure the size is right (some brands don’t always cut accurately and J Brand happens to be one of these) than save myself the price of a very small coffee and wait around for a week or two while the jeans arrive. Unless the difference in price is greater than $10, I’m not going to shop online over instore (nevermind the fact I’m paranoid about internet fraud). After all, when you’re in need of an outfit last-minute on a Friday afternoon, only your local boutique will be there to meet your needs. A computer can’t pull the perfect dress for a wedding reception off a rack that it thinks will suit your figure, only the shop assistant who’s dealt with you countless times can.
So if you’re dying for that dress that you local boutique just doesn’t or won’t stock, then go to the online retailers.
But if you’ve got a choice between your local boutique and an online store and the price difference isn’t big and the colour or the size you want are in stock at both, support your local boutique. At the end of the day, they will be there to hold your hand during an outfit crisis.