Let the Internet worry about what you wear1/7/2015
If there is one thing brick and mortar retail has over online shopping it is the hands-on, trial-run experience of being able to try something out before making a purchase. You can try on an outfit, listen to a whole album and rent a film or videogame before you purchase it. Online shopping has never really had an answer to the test run. For electronic media such as movies and music, it’s an easy transaction that delivers immediate enjoyment. But for tangible products, there is a lot of risk. You buy a shirt online, it gets delivered, but it is the wrong size, the color wasn’t what you were expecting, and now you are faced with the zero-fun task of returning an online purchase.
While in-person shopping definitely still holds this advantage, it seems some online retailers have come up with a suitable workaround. What if instead of purchasing physical goods online, you could have a trial period? Such is the case with the rising trend of “curated commerce,” or subscription-based tailored shopping sites.
If you think about your online presence, your style is almost entirely shared and waiting for a personal shopper to run with it. Your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and potentially LinkedIn profiles all tell the story of your interests and how you dress. Simply put, curated commerce marries online taste information with your measurements and ships you goods that match your size and sensibilities. Instead of personally investing hours of your time driving from store to store or surfing around the web looking for unique products, curated sites take all your data and deliver customized choices for your to pick from.
There is a curated shopping service for practically anything you can think of from women’s shoes (Shoedazzle.com) to cooking gadgets (Ahalife.com); and suits, ties and dress shoes (NeedEdition.com); to toys and geekery (LootCrate.com).
Beyond doing the shopping for you, curated shopping can fit widely varying budgets and frequency of shopping needs. Some curated services are simply free apps, such as Canopy, which was developed by Amazon to reshape its online service to your personality and tastes. Other services come as monthly subscription models where the shopper pays a monthly fee for the personal shopping service plus shipping and handling. When their goods are delivered, the shopper only pays for what they want to keep, with the return process already paid for in the subscription fee. If receiving a mystery box of goods is too risky for you, services such as Birch Box ease those concerns by allowing one product per month the shopper personally selects with five curated selections. While the shopper-chosen item quells the riddle of what’s in the box, it also helps curating sites build a better profile of the subscriber is looking for from the service.
Subscription-curated shopping is akin the brick and mortar shopping routine except without undressing in public fitting rooms. Yet the main benefit of curated shopping is discovering products and looks that fit your style but you might not have personally chosen.
For those shopping averse, curated sites ease the pain of buying clothes and necessities, but some sites take the experience one step further offering curated gifts. That’s right, why go through the agony of finding friends and family the perfect gift when you can tell the Internet all about them and let shopping algorithm do all the work for you? How ridiculous is that? Don’t worry, curators don’t mind if you take the credit come Christmas morning. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.