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The optical illusion that is online shopping

I’ll admit, there have been many times I have been the victim (or sucker) to the optical illusion of pretty clothes on online shopping sites. Just recently I took the plunge on a (out of budget) dress that in my mind “I had to have.” I pride myself on keeping my purchases under $150 and buying multiple pieces on the same order, so this dress was supposed to be a big deal. Once it arrived, my husband could see the disappointment on my face, as I tried to make myself believe it was worth every penny. Sadly, it was not, made in China, 97% polyester 3% Lycra and 100% not what I saw on the website.

Pictures from 80's Sears Catalog Old School Online Shopping

Pictures from 80’s Sears Catalog

Remember back in the 80’s and early 90’s your mom’s Sears catalog and picking outfits from there? NO?!, just me? Anyways…I remember thinking that was a fun way to buy clothes, while my mom was worried about size and if it would be worth the expensive shipping. The pictures in those catalogs weren’t that great back then and were lacking the very lovely picture altering technology almost all publications and people live by today. Bloomberg Businessweek had a great article “Webcam measurements for buying clothes online” and I was really intrigue by the numbers behind online shopping:

“U.S. online retail sales last year increased by 12.6 percent, and the industry is expected to grow to $279 billion by 2015 from $176 billion in 2010, according to Forrester Research (FORR). Customer reluctance, however, remains an impediment. Of those who don’t buy clothes online, 72 percent say they’re afraid they won’t get a good fit, according to market research firm YouGov. About 20 percent of clothing bought online is returned, usually because of size issues.”

Think about it, size, fabric, airbrushing, color tinkering, sharpness, type of camera used and how many pixels, all add up to you buying (or not) that really nice Kelly Green skirt you sneaked bought at your cubicle at work. Giving yourself a margin of error on your online purchase, when your package arrives (sidebar, who doesn’t love getting mail/packages and being like YAY something came for me) you are left with the most likely feeling of disappointment, complacency or to my surprise recently actual 100% satisfaction.

A colleague of mine, who is pretty fashion savvy in her own right (KH), showed me these pointy toed flats she had purchased online at a high price. I looked at the screen, paused and thought (oh boy, you paid how much for that?) However, my friend was happy and excited to get her new shoes, rightfully so. I had forgotten about the shoes when I ran into her and right away said “OMG love those shoes” she looked at me and said “those were the shoes I showed you the other day, you forgot already?” Um no, I didn’t forget, I was just thinking about a whole different pair of shoes! To my amazement they were way better than I had seen on the screen. This in turn, completely through off my margin of error and disappointment calculations.

A purchase that was from start to finish, size to color dead on? Can this be true? Or was this one of those (works all the time, 50% of the time) kinda things? I know many online shoppers are very happy with their orders and have great luck with their purchases, but I’m pretty sure that margin lives well in their mind while shopping. Or it could be your guilty conscious of shopping at work or your spouse giving you the judgey eye? Or is that just me too?

Keeping it confident – Patty

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