The advent of the department store back in the early 1800’s was a revelation in retail convenience. By the 1960’s we had big names like Macy’s and Hudson’s firmly cemented in shoppers minds as the best places to find everything under one roof. It seemed like it couldn’t get any easier than this, and for a few more decades this was true, but with the creation of the World Wide Web, we can now have almost any item we can think of a mere finger click away. But how does shopping online really compare to wandering around the actual department store? Let’s see what considerations we should make note of when taking a virtual shopping trip.
Most of us who enjoy shopping also enjoy a trip to the big department stores. We can make it a social event, whiling away the hours perusing goods from department to department, admiring the architecture of the huge old buildings. But it’s not for everyone. Perhaps you suffer from social anxiety, fear of crowd or big spaces. Maybe mobility issues restrict you from walking around for any length of time or maybe you just find the idea of dragging yourself from shop to shop as tedious as tedious gets. Fear not, that thing you so desperately need to replace is still right at your fingertips, come rain or shine, without ever having to leave the house. All you need is a laptop, cell phone or tablet and an internet connection.
Navigating the site
Thankfully, most shopping websites follow a similar layout and structure. Usually they will have a mix of product examples and current discount offers on the home page, along the top of the page you’ll find different categories, such as housewares, men’s and women’s fashion and sale items. Just click on these to discover the full ranges available. Similarly, most sites have a search bar you can use to reduce the amount of sections it brings up. One thing to take into consideration is that each site has thousands of items listed; it can take a lot of time to sift through everything. To minimise the amount of items to search through, it often helps to use the filter provided. This will allow you to select items more specific to your needs, this could include the specific clothing size you want, items listed with free delivery, colours or brands.
Photography versus Reality
By now, most of us are aware of how the consumer system works. Whilst companies can be guilty of making something appear more appealing, generally we can tell when they’ve done this, for example, the way clothes are pinned on a model to make it look more fitted or how a chest of drawers is set in a room full of other high quality matching items. All of this is done to nudge our imagination into believing we can have the same in reality. Always double check measurements of furniture space before making a purchase; and read reviews sent in by customers, especially regarding clothes. Every brand makes clothes in a slightly different size; a size 12 at Bloomingdale’s isn’t necessarily the exact same measurements as a size 12 from TJ Maxx.
Shipping & Delivery
All the stores offer delivery direct to your home or chosen address but we find many stores will also offer a ‘click and collect’ service, where you can actually pop into the store at your convenience and pick it up direct from the service counter. Many will provide free domestic shipping when you order over a certain amount, but you should always read the small print - not every item may qualify for free shipping, and larger pieces can sometimes come with extra fees.
Returns & Warranties
Unfortunately not everything you buy will turn out exactly how you expected. For the same reasons we try on various sizes in store, it’s important to remember that sometimes those pants won’t fit the way we wanted once they arrive. Because of this it’s important to be sure whichever store you purchase your items from has a fair policy in place in case you want or need to return an item. Always read the small print.
In all, department stores are a great place to find almost everything you want, and now with those stores giving access to shop online, it could not be easier. As long as you remember to double check about sizes, delivery and returns, the only thing you’ll need to control is your spending habit.