Shop from home, shop on the Internet, or shop from a catalogue. Whatever you call it and whatever method you choose, they show no signs of declining as shopping opportunities.
The question is: where does that leave traditional brick built fashion stores?
For most of us today, Internet shopping is an everyday occurrence, so it’s hard to believe that it was just fourteen short years ago that the first Internet shopping transaction took place when a single compact disc was sold online in the USA. Compare that with this year’s estimated online sales of over 45 billion pounds in the UK alone and it’s clear that the trend from bricks and mortar retailing to Internet retailing is going to cause some serious headaches for traditional high street fashion stores.
Clearly this is much more than a blip. Online shopping is clearly here to stay, but why? What’s so special about an environment where you can’t even touch the products you’re going to buy?
Well, as a consumer we have been completely spoilt. There can’t be too many fabrics and textures that we are unaware of, so when an online description says something like soft, sheer, satin, we have a pretty good idea of what that feels like. In short, we’re filling in the blanks of our online shopping trip with some previous real world shopping experiences.
We no longer have to take ourselves off to town or to a retail park to be presented with a very limited amount of choice, in a limited amount of space. Having that option is nice, but not necessary in this day and age. More and more the choice is to shop online and choose from a much greater range of styles, sizes and prices.
The same fate could have befallen catalogue and mail order retailers. Very few of them had a high street presence anyway, so when the Internet began to take hold there was a concern that these shopping channels would become redundant, but again, thanks to the many benefits of having an online presence, most, if not all catalogue and home shopping companies have survived the transition from print to Internet very successfully.
An even better option for the online consumer is the virtual shopping centre, where dozens if not hundreds of retailers set out their stall on equal footing whether they are long established or a week old!
Is there a need for a one stop shopping website that presents consumers with the best that e-tailing has to offer…. clearly there is. Go a step further and offer a one stop shop that offers the same great e-tailing choice, but with a further option to request a physical, printed catalogue to be delivered directly to the consumers front door, and the whole online shopping experience starts to look extremely attractive.
It’s very hard to see how traditional brick built fashion stores can retain their expensive high street presence. Maybe the future is to scale down even further the all encompassing scale of their product ranges on display in favour of small taster ranges of clothing with a strong push to drive their customers online for extra sizes and choice. It’s a decision that I’m certain is producing some furrowed brows.
What does this mean us as the customer? In short wherever we decide shop, we now have a fantastic number of options when deciding to part with our hard earned cash.