Style Lies In The E-Tails
Cashless times call for digital retail therapy. But how do you shop online without getting addicted? Here's help...
AS OUR banknotes turned worthless overnight last week, more and more of us are now taking the e-tail route for our fashion fix. Online stores are reporting sharp spikes in revenue, and many new customers are discovering that virtual shopping is convenient and fun.
Ad executive Karan Shrikent knows that it can be dangerously addictive too. “I’ve shopped online on my phone when I’ve been out with friends, on a drive, in the bathroom, and on holiday,” he admits. He’s blown up 16,000 in one go on clothes and shoes because he “couldn’t stop adding items” to his cart. A few months ago, he ended up spending another 10,000 online. “I felt so guilty about it that every time the delivery man reached my office, I’d lie and say I wasn’t in, in the hope that the site would eventually cancel my order.”
Shrikent, like many, falls for discounts and deals. When one site began its sale last year, he stayed up in bed to shop the moment the discounts went live at midnight. “I logged on at 12.02,” he recalls. “The app had so much traffic that my waiting time was 30 minutes. It made me feel terrible. I could see all these deals with wings on them, flying away from me.”
That’s where the problems start. A 2015 study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience suggests that 4.7 per cent women and 3.5 per cent men admit to being addicted to online shopping. As you go from cash to cards, will your cart have riches or regrets? Here’s help in a fastrefreshing world:
Vanessa Patrick, a marketing professor and researcher at the University of Houston, finds that online shopping is driven by the same interplay of impulse and self-control as the real world.
Only, it’s far more pervasive. “In a regular store, a typical impulse buy is something small like gum or chips when you are at the cash counter,” she says. “Online, you’re a click away from just about every product in the world. Everything is up for thoughtless purchase.”
Bhavya Chawla, chief stylist at Voonik.com, says the 24/7 nature of e-shopping means “you’re far more likely to browse when you’re distracted or tired, and it’s much easier to buy what you didn't intend to”. So how to fight the urge? Patrick suggests setting boundaries – how much time and money you are comfortable spending – before you begin. Then, make a mental note of what you’re visiting a site for, a specific need, rather than letting yourself be swayed by what looks good.
Cut through the clutter and temptation further by using search filters, says Chawla. Look specifically for what you want, a little black dress, evening shirt, animal print, sheer saris or types of sleeve and cut.
Online, you can’t touch, feel or try. All you have are pictures, so make them count. “Zoom-in on zips, pockets and fabric,” says Gurpreet Singh, whose company Browntape Technologies helps sellers showcase their goods on sites like Amazon and Flipkart. “Good brands will ensure their items will be well-styled and shot, so you’re not confused.”
“Indian men use the most filters,” says Singh. Women, on the other hand, prefer to see all their options. Singh was recently wondering why one particular blouse, manufactured by a seller in Jaipur, was selling well even though it never ranked high on the top of any list of filters. “We tried ‘top’, ‘printed top’, ‘Jaipur top’, even the brand name, but it remained buried on page 10 and still sold well,” he recalls. “I asked women how long they scrolled before they got fed up. They said they browse to infinity. Women take four-five metro rides of scrolling before buying a 500 top!”
So if you’re not strapped for time, it makes sense to spread out your browsing over several hours or even days before you pick what you like and have time to rethink your decision before you buy.
FLIRTY IN PINK Dress, shoes: Koovs.com