The popularity of online shopping has grown enormously in recent years, as people and companies utilize the internet to facilitate quicker and more efficient transactions. While fast-food and grocery deliveries make up a large proportion of online shopping orders, the world of fashion is catching up fast.

More and more people are choosing to shop for clothes online, and it is not difficult to see why, given the convenience and potential for bargains this offers. There are of course downsides as well, and the fashion industry needs to address these in order to really make the most of the potential that online platforms offer, and pass on these benefits to its consumers.

The Benefits

  • Better Value. A major consideration for many consumers is quite simply, getting the best deal. Selling online allows a company to reduce overheads in various ways, such as avoiding the significant costs incurred by operating from an expensive retail outlet for example. Online businesses are able to pass savings on to their customers through increasingly competitive prices. Online forums also enable shoppers to compare prices quickly and easily and see where they can get the best deals. Something that would previously have taken up the best part of a day, traveling from store to store to compare prices, can now be done in a matter of minutes from the comfort of your own home.
  • Greater Choice. The internet is often described as having shrunk the world, and it has done this by facilitating a greater connectivity than ever before. Not so long ago, people would be limited to shopping in their own locality. For people who lived in rural areas in particular, this meant options were extremely limited. Today, even the most remotely located individuals can shop for items quite literally on the other side of the world. Companies have responded to this demand, and their new consumer markets, with increasingly efficient online shopping forums and delivery services.
  • Honest Feedback. Perhaps the most exciting online development from a consumer point of view is the facility to get genuine insight from impartial reviews. Whole communities of consumers now exist who share information on the quality and popularity of products and sites have been established that focus on helping people to find the best bargains online. Consumers can now find out about items with greater speed and efficiency than ever before.


The Challenges

  • Try before you buy. One of the biggest drawbacks of shopping for fashion items online is that there is no opportunity to try something on before purchasing it. Just because something looks good on the peg does not mean it will look as good when it is actually worn, and even the most comprehensive and detailed website will not be able to show you exactly how you will look in something.Colors on a screen can look different in real life, and the fit can be very different when a garment is actually put on.
  • Returning items. If an item of clothing does not turn out to be exactly what you wanted, returning it can be made even more challenging when there is not a dedicated premises you can take it back to so that a refund can be processed or an alternative found. The smartest retailers are getting better at this, with many of them offering to cover the cost of postage and even providing packaging specific to the item when it is delivered just in case it needs to be returned. That said, this still requires a certain amount of effort that online shopping should, in theory, have removed the need for.
  • Lack of immediacy. Many people enjoy the process of trying on clothes so much and think of this as such an integral part of the shopping experience, that shopping online for them will only ever be a poor substitute. Closely related to this is the love of an impulse buy or sudden unexpected find, something which cannot be easily replicated by an online shopping trip.

The Future

The world of fashion moves quickly and dynamically. Trends change almost daily, and this applies as much to how people shop as it does to what they actually buy. The future is, therefore, difficult to predict but if other industries are anything to go by, the most exciting and innovative developments will continue to take place in the online world.

The fashion industry, which prides itself on excitement and innovation, is therefore not surprisingly looking in this direction as well, and continually seeking out unique new ways to engage with their target audiences and drive the profession forward.