I feel like I hardly ever shop in stores anymore. I ventured out a couple of weeks ago to visit the new Zara store but apart from that I find myself increasingly shopping at midnight from the safety of my bed. It’s fun, convenient, cures insomnia and as an added bonus, you avoid hideous changing rooms and nonchalant sales staff.
Surprisingly a recent household study has found that cheaper prices were not the sole reason for consumers to buy online. Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of the people surveyed cited convenience as the top reason for shopping online, followed by cheaper prices at 34 per cent. Did I mention I shop in bed?
These statistics are not such good news for Australian retailers, as they scramble to find new methods of keeping our dollars here, such as introducing a GST on overseas purchases over $1000 and this latest one, charging customers a trying-on fee.
According to the Courier Mail, a Sydney ski store is charging 50 bucks to try on ski boots (redeemable when said boots are purchased) and now Queensland store owners also want a slice of this retail pie.
“Shoppers could soon be forking out hefty fees to try on shoes, garments or sports gear as defiant retailers turn the tables on online shopping competition. Specialist store owners are sick of offering top-level service to customers who leave the store empty-handed and then buy online at discounted prices.”
But c’mon, can’t they see this would surely backfire… if it’s hard enough to lure us away from our screens and into stores, what makes them think we would now pay for the privilege? Why would you pay $50 to try something on, when you could buy it cheaper online with free shipping and potentially return it for less than that if it wasn’t suitable? Retailers have long charged over-inflated prices purely because consumers didn’t have any other option. As a result, customers don’t feel like they have to be loyal to one brand or store anymore and it’s time retailers got up to speed.
Editor of Shop Til You Drop magazine, Justine Cullen believes that traditional retailers need to do more to draw consumers in to be competitive in this tough climate by creating experiences such as in-store events and personal styling, not charging trying-on fees.
“I think it’s ridiculous and they’ll only be damaging their own bottom lines. Before they came out complaining that consumers were trying things on in-store before purchasing them online, I didn’t know anyone who had actually done that. It would have to be a tiny segment of the market who are using that strategy and everyone else will have to pay. No-one will bother trying things on and they’ll just have to put on more staff to deal with the returns,” Cullen says.