Shop at the click of a mouse

2012-09-20 10:12

The launch of a number of local shopping sites selling everything from handmade wallets to the latest Nikes, with affordable (sometimes free) and quick delivery and returns, means shopping from your couch is the new mall trawl.

Local shopping site 36Boutiques.com originally launched as a members-only site, with a small selection of goods on sale for limited periods of time.

It has since been taken over by media giant Naspers, who invested heavily into making it one of the prime South African online fashion destinations, with more than 50 international and local brands on board.

Robyn Cooke, its head of content, says: “We have a strong subscription base of over 38 000 South African women and we will be launching a similar men’s site before the end of the year.”

Businessman Dion Govender (31) says he started shopping online three years ago because menswear choices in South Africa are “dismal” at best.

He has certain criteria when it comes to making a purchase: one is free shipping, because “once I paid double the price for an American Apparel T-shirt” and the other is using PayPal, because he’s wary of using his credit card online.

He’s not alone – the MasterCard Worldwide Online Shopping Survey, done between December last year and January this year, reveals that the majority of respondents cite lower prices (91%), payment convenience (90%) and secure payment facilities (90%) as their main motivators for shopping online.

They also said that websites should have a good reputation, be user-friendly and should offer low or no extra charges for delivery.

Vicki Sleet, a magazine journalist and blogger, bought books and DVDs on Amazon.com before venturing onto crafters’ site Etsy.com to shop for gifts.

She says: “A bag I ordered from a local online fashion store for an event didn’t arrive within the promised delivery time and they only called 10 days later to inform me they were out of stock.

“Another time I ended up paying double for a product I ordered because it was over £40 (about R500) and subject to import/customs duties.”

Despite these negative experiences, she says: “Much like the joy of receiving an actual letter in the post, the joy of fetching something from the Post Office or, better yet, having it delivered by courier, will never cease to thrill me.”

Many shoppers turn to the internet to hunt for more unique items.

While some seek the many labels that are not available here, others are after exclusive, limited-edition or specifically local finds.

That’s where smaller-scale online retailers like Meekel.co.za comes in.

It features a collection of hand-selected, top quality, designer products, sourced from local artists and designers.

Taking online shopping to the next logical level is an increasing number of magazines offering the products on their pages for sale on the web.

See something you like while flipping through your favourite mag? Log in, click your mouse and wait for it to be delivered to your door.

Afrikaans women’s magazine Sarie is leading the way in this regard with its online shop and the fashion weekly Grazia has also partnered with 36Boutiques.com to launch its online boutique.

“The idea is that it will give our readers a very easy way to shop the mag,’ says Grazia editor Danielle Weakley.

Retail giants are keen to jump on the cybershop bandwagon, with Woolworths, Habits and Crabtree & Evelyn offering customers a complete online shopping experience, or “clicks and mortar”, as it’s known.

Mr Price also recently hit the internet with a bang, offering its full selection of clothing online.

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