I could never shop online, especially for clothing. I have the need to feel the material, to try the cutting and design in all angles just to make sure they fit me. I don’t consider myself in the rank of being super picky. I believe this is just average shopper’s behaviour.
With the birth of E Commerce, and its powerful presence in our daily life, I sometimes succumb to the hype and curiosity since they are so convincing (look at those sexy models in the same outfit! And the ratings!). Beside Amazon, I was a big fan of Lazada since they have the 30 day return without question asked. Usually it takes me a long time to purchase something, even from Lazada, but a lot of times I have no choice but return the items. As of now, I stopped completely. After a while, I realized even with the prepaid postage inside the delivery box it still takes too much to drag myself out to Singpost to return the items.
Three weeks ago, I just placed my first order from the infamous Alibaba platform. 2 simple tees at only 5 bucks an item. Just to test it out. After 3 weeks, they arrived. The last pic was the actual item I received yesterday. The first 2 photos are what I thought I ordered. Lucky me, I almost ordered some cow leather (more than 200USD) from there last year!
So, I never seem to learn my lesson. I usually just buy my stuffs at some limited places where I do not have to negotiate, and I already know their quality over the years. It is not that I do not like to negotiate, or not able to negotiate, just that it is my way to weed out the chance of being cheated. 20% off their asking price? Or 50%? or 80%?? These kinds of sellers and shops boom like mushrooms after the rain in E Commerce age. There is no way to make sure what we order is what they are showing on their website. This reminds me of the nightmare we used to deal with when I was back home when we bought something from road side, they let us try the real and good stuffs (sometimes it was fruit), then packed us some spoilt or not-the-same item for us to bring home if we did not look or check carefully. They are exactly the same thing! My rule of thumbs to live by in this online age:
- If it looks too good to be true, it is: Just leave the site if the price is 9.9 bucks for a top, less than 29.9 bucks for a dress, no matter how pretty the item looks like.
- Avoid online shopping all together despite how tempting it is. Unless I have checked it out physically beforehand.
That is why I always feel amused when I see such news. Isn’t it time to just say the truth so people could learn a thing or two? Few months ago, locally we had a news about the closure of a brand here. As usual, they blamed the “disruptive technology” and ecommerce, but in the comment portion of the news, surprisingly there were mostly about how out-of-date the brand was, and one could not find anything worth to buy in the shop. So no, technology did not kill retails. No, we didn’t ditch your shop to just buy online. Complacency and the resistance to evolve do. If you are in corporate world for a while, you would soon notice how most companies operate nowadays. No, they do not really want to serve customers. No, they never want to listen to customers. They want to get away with as little effort as possible. After all, they can only cheat us that many time. And when the whole thing crumble, they blame technology and stuffs. And these are the “better ones”. I am not talking about conmen.
Having said that, I see a new positive trend even in this tiny island. A month ago I just happened to chance on a shop at Plaza Sing. Their price range is what we would see on the after-discount price of other brands (aka real buying rate). No 70% sale ad. No buy 2 get 2 free and additional 10% off. It is really that simple: they sell their good at market buying rate. They deliver quality goods. No frill. I went to their website, wow, a lot of things are out of stock, just like what I saw at the shop. Consumers are not stupid and should not be treated as one. Therefore, I am really looking forward to what’s coming next after the death of this age of retails. Good riddance!
The takeaway: technology has always been a tool and not a cause. Technology can’t help a bad product. Facts at the peak of ecommerce (now): most big successful brands have a mix of anywhere from 15-30% for online business.