Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

How Online Clothes Shopping Is Saving The High Street

The online vs high street war has been raging for some time now and with brick-and-mortar shops up and down the country closing their doors, is there a way that the High Street can succeed alongside the online opposition?

With people now transacting online for almost everything, including when they need to sell a diamond ring, unused goods around the house and more, it has become harder for shops to compete.

The online buyout of Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge; some of the British high street’s most iconic brands, highlights a massive change for a fashion industry that was exploded around clothes shopping as a leisure pursuit, as well as a social activity. In their prime, these shops were public spaces in which teenagers and adults alike spent their Saturday afternoons.

Going out shopping for a new out for a party, night out or holiday was more than just a chore, it was an activity that brought groups together. This is something that cannot be replaced online.

As convenient as online shopping can be, there are some experiences that cannot be matched behind a computer or phone screen. The ability to touch and feel material before you buy them is something that cannot be offered online.

Additionally, trying on clothes is something deemed a necessity for some people. Although the technology has improved to such a point that augmented reality can superimpose an item of clothing onto your person It’s still just isn’t quite as effective as trying it on in the flesh.

On top of this, fashion will be more brightly coloured, stretchier and constructed in much cheaper fabrics. Online shoppers are more likely to buy brighter colours that grab your attention on screen. This contrasts to shoppers browsing in stores, who are more likely to go for classic black or neutral shades.

Stretchy “bodycon” shapes are popular among online shoppers too, as they make it easy for the customer to see what they will look like when worn. Tailored clothes are less predictable on the body, relying more on fit. As a hit-or-miss purchase online, they are less popular on digital platforms.

The best way for a High Street shop to survive is to actually embrace the benefits having an online presence can give them and their customers. This is something that industries like insurance and finance have embraced. For example, if someone is looking to get a second mortgage, few, if any people will now look on the high street; almost everyone goes online.

Therefore, in the case of clothing companies and retailers, a high street clothes retailer can present the catalogue onto their website for the public to browse, they could then have a click and collect service where the buyer can try on that product that they’ve ordered in the store to give it the final thumbs up.

Another benefit to having customers come into the shop in person is the speed at which returns can be conducted. Instead of having to re-package the item the customer wants to return they could simply give it to a member of staff for it to be taken back.

Another benefit to shopping online is that you can see what styles and sizes are in stores, without the need to go into a shop and look at yourself. By having this in place the high street shop can maximise its efficiency by having customers coming in knowing that the product they’re looking for is in stock.