We’re among friends right?
Depending on how well you know me, you may or may not know, that I’m partial to a good shopping spree. (Runs in the family!)
In fact it doesn’t even have to be a ‘spree’ so to speak. I’m pretty chuffed when I come away with a solitary carry bag bearing my latest purchase or two. I get that giddy, smug, “I have bargain, hear me roar” excitability; an extra spring in my step (which definitely helps with the stroller pushing and the sanity – the site of that branded shopping bag swinging merrily off the hooks, while your toddler squawks about one more trip to the playground).
The shopping buzz!
With one in four women classified ‘shopaholics’ I know what some of you might be thinking – this girl’s got a small addiction to all things shiny and new – get her to a therapist’s chair!
But you’ll be comforted to know, I don’t splurge very often… I’m a girl who likes the thrill of the chase – searching through the racks to find that one item that won’t break the bank, the one that shouts out from the hangers, “I’m here, I’m yours and I won’t cost you an arm and a leg.”
I’ve become adept at scouring the racks pretty quickly these days. Friends joke that I know the precise minute my local stores get new stock in (and scarily, they’re not too far from the truth).
I get bored with fashion quickly so as you’ll see in this post I wrote last year ‘Design of the Times’ — four digit designer numbers usually aren’t on my radar.
**Insert husband breathing a giant sigh of relief!**
As an expat in Hong Kong, you’ll also read in that post, that while it’s known as a shopping MECCA, there’s not a whole lot of variety when it comes to shopping in Hong Kong. You’ve got your top end designer digs like LV, Prada, Jimmy Choo and Chanel in all their glossy glory or your high street fashion…Zara, H & M and now Top Shop.
The latter, admittedly, more likely to be my ‘go to’ staple clothing suppliers…(when two of the high street giants live downstairs from my apartment, it’s hard not to have a sneak peek while I’m passing by — ok ‘planned detour’ on route from the morning Mint Mocha).
The small (and utterly first-world) problem with this, is — in a town with around 600-thousand expats, you’re bound to rock up to that brunch date more often than you’d like, in the exact same ensemble as your expat buddy. I’ll even wager a bet, when there’s a big event on in town with a large number of expat women attending, you’ll be rummaging through the wardrobe for that frock that wasn’t purchased here in the Kong!
For a while now, I’ve noticed murmurs among the expat girls about “online shopping” the words Etsy, Monsoon, Zalora, ASOS, Amazon, Victoria’s Secret all bantered around freely from these (clearly) seasoned catwalk connoisseurs!
These sites and their wares even pop into my inbox on most days, but I’ve purposely closed my ears (and hit delete).
Admittedly I’m a sucker for all things online and ask anyone, working from home, my lap top hardly strays from my er lap these days.
Of course it’s no secret that advances in technology, including being able to buy many of the home comforts online have helped many an expat enjoy a better quality of life than previous generations. I’ve known hotelier friends on assignment in the Maldives who say ‘online shopping’ was their ‘life support’ system! (Yes! Even in the Maldives.)
Globally, experts say digital retailing is headed toward 15% to 20% of total sales these days, but I’m not convinced — yet!
When it comes to purchasing something like an item of clothing before I’ve touched it, held it up, tried it on — well, in truth it scares me.
Don’t worry, I’m not immune, I’ve occasionally wondered if I should try online fashion shopping on for size, especially after seeing that funky necklace on a fashionable friend or those perfectly fitted frocks I so desperately need in my wardrobe, but I’ve quickly come to my senses and hastily flicked the thought from my mind like an annoying fly.
I won’t lie, I’ve tried it before.
Which possibly for all intents and purposes isn’t the best time to purchase an outfit from a computer is it? With absolutely no idea about this new body I’m brandishing and what fits and how, I guess, in hindsight, it was fraught with danger right?
That sexy red number I was hoping would make me look like the sophisticated and sassy preggers lady in the picture, arrived looking like one giant piece of material one might wrap around themselves as a blanket in front of the tele, watching Breaking Bad. (For the record neither my mother nor my sister could work out which bit acted as a halter neck either!)
So you see…not my finest ‘online shopping’ hour.
According to a new report about this global phenomenon, shoppers in the US are the most satisfied with online shopping experiences at 83%, while consumers in the Asia Pacific are least satisfied at only 50%.
The flexibility around delivery and returns were among the areas with the least satisfaction across the globe.
This I can relate to. Since my maternity-wear malfunction, I’ve limited my online purchases to shoes. Not for me (heaven forbid, no!) but for my shoe-savvy toddler. Cute little pairs of Havaianas and trendy sneakers at a third of the price.
But even then, it’s been hit and miss. 60 per cent of the occasions have seen me return my carefully sought after purchase for a different size…..and then wait another month before I get my shiny package via snail mail.
Next month, I’ve decided to be a real ‘Aussie’ expat and do the patriotic thing and attend a Melbourne Cup Day function, right here in Honkers.
It’s got to be done right. It’s not just the race that stops a nation! We need in on the action up here too and after three years, I’m starting to miss the giddy ups and the frock ups!
So, I’m thinking now might be a good time to venture away from the staples, find something a little more, shall we say, unique! Maybe its time I got with the ‘expat program’ and swallowed my key tapping pride to let my fingers do the buying?
Here’s to convenience they say! No line ups to pay, no queue to the changing rooms and as is typical here in Hong Kong – no bumping elbows with fellow shoppers as you scramble for the same item like a bull in a china shop!
There’s also another argument in favour of the online virtual store versus the crowded reality – there are many shops here with many assistants that are clearly told to ‘hover.’
If you’ve been to Hong Kong, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The seemingly overbearing shop assistant who takes a step ‘in sync’ with your step EACH time you move to look at another pair of shoes or that next rack of clothes!
It’s a little disconcerting to say the very least when you’re trying to assess the goods and you’ve got a shadow less than a metre behind you. I’ll be honest, I’ve walked out of many a shop because of this.
So I guess its time I caught up with technology and took the plunge into retail cyberspace. (My sister even runs an online lingerie business, which I’ll shamelessly promote here! So it’s only fair I display some sisterly support right?)
(Let’s be clear, this by no means means I’m ditching the actual ‘walk in and browse’ shopping style — hell may well freeze over before that happens!)
So, first things first – time to check out the sites….(which admittedly with Pinterest piquing my attention does make it easier to spot a gem).
Or, complicated. Oh. So. Many!
This is where I admittedly get a bit bamboozled! So many online stores with so many dresses….in fact, endless dresses jumping out at me……too short, too tight, too loose, too flouncy…. what happens when you’re in-between sizes and have no chance to try them and convince yourself they should see the light of day?
So after much searching, umm-ing and ahhhing and going through the entire online wardrobe at my fingertips, I settle on a little ZALORA number.
I’m comforted by the fact that they’ve labeled their brand edgy, chic meets street affordable, much like its counterpart (and my expat saviour) H & M!
Mind you, 30 pages in to this key tapping shopping extravaganza, my mind is clouding over and I’ve managed to stock no less than a dozen potential items in my shopping basket! Guessing I can’t just order them all… can I??
In the end I decide to play it safe for my first ‘experience’ and order a tried and true style.
Let’s hope I’m onto a winner!
Within days my purchase arrives…..Oh the anticipation!
It’s fair to say, I experience the rush of endorphins normally associated with an in-shop purchase, but it also has me in a slight panic…will it be the right colour, the right size, the right dress?
Yep, as I
carefully unravel my prized possession, rip the dress from its bag, we have a winner! It fits!
This could be dangerous…. no need to get dressed and leave the house for a serious retail fix! (By the way, research shows online shopping peaks on Thursdays and Fridays, while in-store has kept its traditional peak time on Saturdays.)
Online shopping? This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
During my researching ‘process,’ I found these great tips to help with my conquest — ‘online’ of course.
What about you? Tell me your tips for getting it right when it comes to online shopping? I (clearly) need to know the ins and outs!
***Pssst, If you think you’ve ‘sort of’ read this before…you’re not seeing double. I accidentally published this post last week, before I’d finished it. My fatigued apologies (I blame the baby!) 😉