To online shop or to go in to store… that is the question
This is the question, isn’t it? It’s been growing ever more incrementally over the past few years and for some of us the answer is obvious; we’ve chosen a camp and are happy to stay in it.
For others, there’s the changing nature of a technologically advancing world, a global marketplace, not to mention a pandemic, to reset your thinking about what needs to change in the way you shop.
It feels impossible to imagine a day when you might wake up and head out, do some window shopping and come away with a sneaky little gem that caught your eye in a window display much like something out of some Richard Curtis rom-com where the perfect gifts, the perfect dresses, and the perfect shoes are found with the sun shining and your hair curling down your face in the way you’ve always dreamed of.
Online shopping still feels impersonal and boring yet, that picture in your head is now coming up against the literal barrier of a mask over your face. How can my hair cascade majestically with elastic over my ears? How can I replicate this Julia Roberts moments in leggings at my kitchen counter?
As someone that shops both in person and online heavily (much to my bank account’s deep displeasure but my continually-increasing enjoyment), there are positives to both.
1. Nothing beats the experience of shopping in person because it’s so easy. Everything you want is at your fingertips. You can try things on (a huge benefit and generally easy process that doesn’t have you panicking that you’ve changed shape in the last 4 days) and you can walk out immediately with exactly what you want. No panic. No qualms. No drama.
2. It’s a tactile expedition much like walking into the aquarium and seeing the kids at the touch pool where they can poke and prod at everything pretty and shiny around them.
Feeling the sleek polish of patent like a Bond villanelle; grasping supple leather as if you’re holding soft rising dough in your hands; gliding your fingers back and forth over the opulence of rich velvet, cashmere or suede is like a drug or meditative experience.
There are so many colours and patterns and beads and styles that your eyes enjoy taking in. It’s a kaleidoscopic touch pool for adults.
3. It’s almost always accompanied by something other. Unless you are grocery shopping, out of underwear or in need of a coffee, you don’t go running into a store without going into others.
It’s the Hepburn moment of seeing a store, moseying in, wandering around and the unmistakable thrill that comes when you see something you need (yay), something you like (double yay) or some wonderful intoxicating mesh of the two that feels like you’ve lucked out.
You get the bag nicely packaged, meander a little more and find yourself coming home ready to show off. “Look what I got!” you say to whoever is home and then the excitement at thinking, “When can I wear them?”
1. Convenience. Let’s not beat around the bush. It is so much easier to do some emailing, have a phone conversation, make a coffee and do the laundry, all the while there’s a tab open with everything you’re looking at buying.
You don’t even have to think about it because 99% of the time you can return it if it’s not quite right. You click the one you want, you drain your cup, turn off the screen and know that in however many days, you’ll have sometime that will find its way to you.
2. The anticipation of getting a package, like your new pair of summer sandals. In this day and age, we don’t really have much to wait for, nor do we like the inconvenience of not having something immediately.
But there’s some lost art in that. The thought that something you’ve bought is on its way to you is delicious. It’s like a reverse scavenger hunt. Looking out the window, on the doorstep or in the mailbox each day only adds to the anticipation and then if you forget and then, suddenly there it is, packaged and neat and just waiting to be opened because it houses something wonderful and delightful… it’s like waiting for the guy you have a crush on to call you. The waiting, the absence, the inevitability, it makes it worth it.
3. When you find something online, you basically feel like Sherlock Holmes. Whether it’s on the home page or you do a deep dive with discarded remnants of muffins and iced lattes around you, when you find something you like, something that jumps off the pages you’ve been scrolling through; you feel like you’ve done the impossible and found something unique and special and the feeling of satisfaction that you made it happen basically makes you feel you’ve done something incredible.
The feeling of validation is immense. Close your computer, turn off your phone and stand up, you’ve done it. You’ve found what no one else could. The game was afoot. Now, it’s in the mail. Robert Downey Jr. eat your heart out.