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e-tail therapy

October 20, 2011

So it took me a little while, but this year I finally dove into the world of online shopping for clothes.

I was apprehensive at first. I’d bought plenty of stuff online before, mainly books and DVDs and electrical goods – but these were all things that you don’t have to ‘try on’. The very thought of purchasing an item only to have it arrive and not fit was simply enough for me to want to give the online shopping experience a miss.

But I did change my mind and here’s why.

1. Australian retailers are boring.

I’m sick of the limited options in Aussie high street stores. There’s not enough choice, and the rotation of clothes is not frequent enough. I’ve been into stores on Chapel Street only to return a month later to the same stock. Websites such as Asos.com and Topshop add new items daily – so there’s always pretty new things to check out on each visit.

And when you do manage to find something interesting and appealing, you’re bound to leave the house and come across another two girls wearing the exact same item.

2. Australian retailers are expensive.

Now I am a former Sportsgirl myself, and I do have a lot of allegiance to the brand, however $80 for a cut & sew cotton dress? Who do you think you are? Everyone knows we pay too much for fashion in Australia. Why else do we go overseas purely to go shopping? Stores in the US and UK have always had better prices – much better prices – than us, and now it is so much easier to take advantage of these cheaper prices. Not to mention the great exchange rate we’ve been experiencing for a while now too.

3. Australian retailers give shitty service.

I have a rule that I refuse to buy something unless the store assistant at least acknowledges me whilst I’m in the store. If he/she continues on her own private conversations or doesn’t look up from her computer screen in order to greet me, then I won’t buy anything. Even if I see something I like. I’m not asking for you to chaperone me around the store and become my personal stylist, I’m just asking for a simple ‘Hello, I’m over here if you need me’ type approach. Unfortunately this type of shitty service is commonplace in Melbourne these days. Fashion retail assistants have become cashiers – they just take your money and put the clothes in a bag for you. They don’t even like putting away the clothes you tried on in the changeroom half the time!

So, after considering these three points I decided to give online clothes shopping a go.

My first purchase was from Topshop where I purchased a faux fur gilet and bright orange snood. Topshop has an awesome review function, so I was able to read from others who’d bought the same items before I hit ‘purchase’. This really helped me in deciding which size to get as I could read what others thought of the sizing. For example someone might write ‘I’m almost always a size 10, but in this item I had to go up a size’, which would mean I’d consider going up a size myself.

As I paid more than 75 pounds my delivery was free, and I received my goods in 1 week. And they arrived in gorgeous polka dot packaging! A small touch, but it made my day!

My next purchase came from ASOS, who have recently launched the ability to pay in AUD. ASOS was having a 50% off their sale items so I decided to make the most of this and pick myself up a couple of new skirts. I paid less than $25 for each skirt, got free delivery, and had my items delivered in a week.

One of the other great things about Topshop and ASOS is that you can even return the clothes if they don’t fit. If you live in the UK then you can actually return your item to a Topshop store! So there goes that worry about being stuck with a piece that doesn’t fit.

Now we have to remember that Australian retailers have online stores too – but I still think their product is boring and too expensive. Take Sportsgirl.com for example. Their items are the same stock as what is in store, and at the same prices. Oh but you have to pay for delivery. So why bother? If you live in rural Australia and can’t get yourself to a Sportsgirl store, do yourself a favour a buy your clothes from ASOS or Topshop or the US’s Urban Outfitters. You’ll get something a bit different, much cheaper and you’ll possibly score free delivery also.

An Australian site that I quite like to check out is Brands Exclusive. They have daily specials and some really great prices on designer clothes (as well as books, homewares, toys are more) however you almost always have to pay for delivery. I recently made my first purchase, and had to wait more than 3 weeks for the order to arrive! Plus, almost 3 weeks after I submitted my order I got an email saying that one of the items ‘could not be fulfilled’ so I was sent a replacement item instead.

So I’m converted. I’ll still go shopping in Melbourne, and I’m sure I’ll still buy items. But I’ll be buying less from Aussie retailers and more and more from overseas.

Do you buy clothes online? Which are you favourite stores?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2011 1:14 pm

    Bravo Misscoca.

    I too have the same reason for not buying bricks and mortar retail. It’s too hard and too much of a struggle to get any service let alone product.

    I buy online when I can and when it’s appropriate. If it’s something that will take half and hour to get etc. i’ll get it here. e.g cycling stuff. Much cheaper than the shop.

    I buy from Old Navy, Gap etc online, they now ship to Australia. I don’t want to pay $60-100 for a tshirt. $20 max for me. Shirts are a bit different, but i’ve seen North American pricing and it’s hard to go back. See a shirt here for $120, see the same shirt over there for $60 and it’s a struggle to pay $120 then.

    You’re right, the service is terrible. When i shop with my better half, I am amazed at the complete lack of service in 90% of the shops. In Harvey Norman two days ago we were looking for a coffee table. Just when we thought someone was coming up to help, she pushed right through us to get to her desk. Terribly sorry, didn’t mean to bother you by trying to be a customer.

    Australian retail can whinge all they want, but until they take a good look at themselves and get a reality check, the survival of the fittest is going to be a severe game indeed.

    • October 20, 2011 1:24 pm

      How interesting, given Harvey Norman are the most vocal of Australian businesses advocating for the government to slap the GST on foreign online websites. Maybe if they got their customer service right then they wouldn’t have people leaving their stores in droves.

  2. October 20, 2011 1:38 pm

    I agree in every way with this post. When I went on holiday to London, my main goal was ppurely: shopping. The service I received from staff in every store was great. Not too pushy, but there to help you when needed.

    All my Christmas shopping was done online as well!

    Some favourite stores:
    TopShop
    Cath Kidston
    Joy Clothing (search Joy clothing London)
    ASOS

    • October 20, 2011 2:05 pm

      Thanks Rosie, I love the idea of getting all your Chrissy shopping done online! I especially hate shopping in Melbourne at Christmas time – no car parks, long queues & ferals galore!

  3. October 20, 2011 1:58 pm

    Fab post Misscoca. I’m a new follower of your blog and I could not agree more! I’ve been an online convert for some time now for the same reasons you describe in your post – same old stuff, awful service and expensive prices!

    A couple of great ‘fashion’ stores to check out are: shopbop.com and nextdirect.com also, for sports equipment have a look at wiggle.co.uk(don’t be put off by all the cycling gear on the home page…dig a little deeeper and you’ll find gym gear and running shoes at great prices. For a super cheap fashion option (think valleygirl) you can’t go past Forever21.com…a US site…you can pick up some great stuff. I have a number of their dresses and skirts that I have worn to death over the past year and they are still going strong.

    Have fun checking them out…I must warn you though…it becomes a bit of an addiction!!

    • October 20, 2011 2:04 pm

      Thanks Jade! I will definitely check those sites out, I particularly need some new sports gear! I was hoping that by switching to online shopping I’d spend less… problem is online stores never close! I can shop at 3am!

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