This month’s blog is to deliver information regarding online shopping and how it is affecting the consumer once they decide to push that purchase button.
Creative Marketing Arts specializes in retail shopping center marketing. As we all know this is a shrinking industry with more and more competition popping up online. More and more of our retailers struggle with lost revenue and complain that business is going to the Internet.
I decided to jump in with all 10 toes and sign up for a few online shopping services to find out more. I have several friends who were sold on a personal online stylist. To get started I went to Trendsend to sign up. My personal stylist and I began communicating. She provided a personal style questionnaire that included a lifestyle overview and overall needs to complete my wardrobe. Once I completed all the paperwork I waited 4 weeks while my stylist got busy shopping for me. I was excited to get going so that I could share this with my retailers and explain how my brick and mortar retailers might initiate a similar program. I’ll get back to how this worked out in a minute.
4 Common Online Worries
1. Inferior quality
As we all know the biggest problem with shopping online is that you have no guarantee of product quality and reviews can be unreliable. I was hoping for the best although I am generally a skeptic when it comes to shopping online… but my friends and associates convinced me that Trendsend would be the way to go. They have great products with high quality, I was told.
2. Lost Merchandise
One of the other worries of online shopping that I have is delivery and logistics: will my package get to me or will it get delivered to the wrong address? I always fear that I get dinged and must find my package.
3. Hidden Fees
There are additional hidden fees that are in the small print like shipping fees, if you send it back, or additional handling fees. This showed up when I shopped at Venus online. They have inferior quality and they charge a lot to ship and return. They forget to tell you about the return fees, which are double the normal fees. Venus was another online vendor who has terrible quality clothing. The models look great but once you hold the products in your hands they are obviously going to fall apart after one wash. Since you have no idea of quality online you must put your faith in a vendor that you already know. It is too risky to purchase online and then pay to send it back and risk the vendor not receiving the package.
4. Lack of Security
Cyber security is becoming a very big issue, or more precisely the lack of it. It is a major problem on the internet every day. E-commerce sites record important customer data like name, phone, address, bank detail, etc. If they don’t practice stringent cyber security measures, your data is at risk of falling into the wrong hands who can then wreak havoc on your bank account. Even the very largest companies are being hacked; I used to think it was safe to shop and give Target or Kmart my credit card information as they are big companies, both of which have been hacked and exploited information from millions of shoppers. If these big conglomerates are being hacked, you must realize that the smaller companies have even fewer firewalls and security in place.
These are a few of my worries and some of the items that are commonly discussed amongst my cliques of friends, clients and retailers that discuss how to bring in the online model to their stores. With all this knowledge and fear that I possess I still jumped into the online personal shopper experience simply to try the service and translate my experience and knowledge to my clients.
Trendsend the Story
Now back to my online shopping story with my personal shopper at Trendsend. I used the service for 7-months. My stylist nailed it on the first shipment. I was so excited when I got my box filled with 3 complete outfits and accessories to match. I had over $900 in merchandise to try on and determine what I liked and what was going back. Trendsend sends you a note explaining the products and how to mix and match. It was exciting; I kept the entire box. I then went to the online shopping check out area to finish the purchase and then I updated my personal profile so the stylist would know what I was looking for the next month. The next month and the months after that it went off the rails. The stylist sent wrong sizes, items that I specifically said I didn’t need were included and items that were just not my style. Each month more and more of the box was not my cup of tea. I was clear and concise on my feelings, wants and needs. In April, I received my seventh shipment from Trendsend and decided that if my stylist nailed it I would keep the service and if I didn’t like the box I was going to quit the service. Upon receiving my shipment, I quickly opened the box and tried on the clothing. Nothing in the box was my style or the fit was off, so I sent the entire box back to Trendsend. I also unsubscribed from the service. My box was sent out in May 2017. Trendsend charged my AMEX $780.00 three weeks later stating the box was never returned. My biggest fear had come true. I had to fight with this company for a week to investigate the missing package. This package had Trendsend’s label on it and their postage paid guarantee stamp. This was a long, ugly mess. They provided the wrong return address label and the package was lost. They said it went to the wrong address, remember this was their label. They sent me to the post office to track the order and figure it out for myself. This was so disappointing. Trendsend is no longer on my list of preferred vendors. They did finally receive my package which ended up costing me postage and a lot of extra time tracking down their mistake.
I have decided that touching it for quality and trying it on for fit and talking to a human being still works best for me. I am over the online personal shopper program. I want to smell it, touch it and feel it before I take it home. A lost delivery ends up costing me time, money and frustration.
From this Marketing Guru to all of you… sometimes the brick and mortar retail world is still a safer, more secure and fun way to shop. I am not recommending the service be rolled out by my clients. It is overrated, over complicated and underwhelming. I will be finding my summer favorites at Marshall’s, Target, Nordstrom or another brick and mortar retailer😊