Style Lies In The E-Tails

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - FASHION - By Rachel Lopez Pho­tos by Rawky Ksh

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:

START­ING POINT

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.”

SIFTING SMART

“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

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