Like a lot of females born in the late 80's, my shopping habits have progressed through the likes of Limited Too, Bath and Body Works, and Forever 21. Now, in my early twenties, I've started to wander through Nordstrom, Von Maur, and Neiman Marcus for momentary splurges with a much nicer ambiance and even a little piano in the background. While my style preferences have changed, one thing is consistent; a little retail therapy can be just what the doctor ordered.
In the past year, I have begun to rely on the family of Gap brands – Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta. The twist here is that I've begun to rely on them through online shopping and not their in-store experience. This spectrum of brands, styles, personalities, prices and quality let me attempt to keep up with fashion trends while picking and choosing what items I will splurge on and what items I will buy simply for the season at hand.
Collaborative Shopping Cart
The first aspect of this shopping experience that has caused me to pull away from others is the collaborative shopping cart. With free shipping on orders over $50, it is much easier to accomplish that minimum when I can combine items from 5 different stores. Similarly, I can add things to my shopping cart and then choose to "Save them for later" allowing me to browse and keep a closer eye on certain items that I may not be ready to purchase (or my credit card needs a little relief) that day.
Free Returns (a.k.a Guilt-Free Impulse Buys)
While it's no news to anyone that online shopping has drastically changed the lives of retailers and the pressure on their in-store experience, a setback for many with purchasing clothes online is not being able to try them on. The Gap family of brands removes the pain that returns can cause. When your new purchase arrives at your humble abode, often times a return shipping label is already included. If not, you can simply print one at home from the store website for free – no postage required.
By having the clothes delivered to my doorstep, I can try them on in the privacy and comfort of my own home, experiment pairing them with different things I already own and even sleep on the decision for a day or two. One might argue that this can be accomplished by purchasing an item in-store, but my strategy allows you to do it all from your phone, your couch, or your computer avoiding potential traffic, losing 2 hours of your evening and dodging the beauty product kiosk salespeople at the mall.
When we make purchases, especially large purchases, often times it's all about justifying the spend in my mind and feeling like I received more than an item of clothing. The Gap brands have intelligently provided me with these perks drastically increasing my basket size. A great example of a gesture of customer service is Athleta's "Give-it-a-workout Guarantee." I can try on workout clothes 10 times, but I still don't know how they will fit when I'm actually working out. This guarantee eliminates the risk because I can get my sweat and tears on a pair of capris before deciding if I'm happy with the purchase.
Lastly, having Piperlime in this mix of brands provides the shopper with style advice and ideas. Don't tell Gap, but this is a great asset because I can take those concepts and look for items similar at the other brands in the family for potential savings.
Ask a girl to talk about shopping and a great retail experience, and you're likely to get a long winded response. Despite the ramblings above, it is clear that today's shopper is technologically savvy and wants to feel great about their purchases. Providing a valuable and conveneient shopping experience, be it in-store or online, is not necessarily a differentiator anymore; it's the bare minimum of shopper expectations. In order to compete, retailers will need to continue to up the ante and come up with conveniences I didn't know I needed but now can't live without.
Keep in touch with trends at retail by following Theory House shopper marketing agency.