I read somewhere that clothing is apparently second only to electronics for internet purchases. Not so long ago, Bluefly was the only designer discounter in town, and even more recently, North Americans could only salivate over all the goodies on YOOX.COM. This was back in the early 00′s, and www.activeendeavors.com, now firmly entrenched with its stable of hipster boutique brands like BBlessing and Surface to Air alongside www.revolveclothing.com‘s more mainstream offerings, was just a fledging site offering some Paper Denim & Cloth jeans along with hiking boots and other outdoor gear. While pretty good for the time, these days, it would be obliterated by the competition. It would take me the good part of a day to get through the Revolveclothing.com inventory, and probably close to a week to get through YOOX.COM‘s inventory just for men.
But with everyone and their mother now opening up an internet version of their business, the informed consumer has much better chance of a satisfactory experience.
I’ve found, for example, that “internet only” stores often have low or no associated shipping costs, while sites that are adjuncts to large brick and mortar stores have very high shipping costs. For example, shipping from www.stevenalan.com starts at $9, and shipping from Barneys.com at a whopping $12. On the other hand, Revolveclothing.com, which is deserving of its success, pays for free shipping BOTH ways, and includes a prepaid envelope for the privilege of getting your return. That is another thing to look for – ease of refunds. Unfortunately, some e-tailers have not clued into the fact that there is a lot of risk involved in shopping on the internet. For one, stuff never looks exactly the way it does in real life. The customer is taking a chance unless he is familiar with a particular item.
Also, with no chance to try on the item in person, the internet customer is always taking a chance with the fit. I personally think that sites like Activeendeavors.com and www.oaknyc.com fall down badly by having sale items be “final sale only.” While this makes sense at a Brick and Mortar, where you can try on a garment, if someone plunks down $500 for a “final sale” jacket, sight unseen however, you can end up with some dissatisfied customers. In contrast, Yoox.com, Bluefly.com, and Revolveclothing.com have very good return policies. In the latter two, any purchase can be refunded. Bluefly has a very generous 90 day return policy. At YOOX.COM, the only final sales are when their already discounted good are discounted to 80-90% off retail, so the customer can easily resell purchases on Ebay or forums like Styleforum.net and Superfuture.com.
Finally, the internet is a great place to comparison shop as well as becoming aware of brands that you might not be able to access from Little Rock, Arkansas. For example, brands are discussed in great detail (and not without controversy) at Styleforum.net, which has also arranged with specific high-end retailers for discounts on the retailers’ online presences. Refinery29.com is one of the better websites that herald store openings, hips trends, and other necessities of being cool on the net. Other sites, like www.reesycakes.com, are essentially devoted to getting you the best deal possible from whatever retailer, relying on tips from users of the site. It’s all at the click of a button, so there is no reason for you to go for anything less than the best bargain.