When you can buy a dress with a few clicks and have new shoes on the way in seconds, you know you’re living in the future. Online shopping has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation, and people are shopping online more than ever before. All you need is a super-fast internet connection (BT broadband should do the trick), and some fashion sense. Easy!
Stores with no physical retail location such as Asos and Amazon earned8.9 per cent more in 2016 than in previous years and, for the first time, online stores overtook physical stores in terms of profit. Shoppers, who previously may have felt uncomfortable not being able to try on clothes before buying them, can now return goods much more easily. So, if you want to spend your cash online, which are the best online stores, the ones that changed the face of fashion forever?
Rent the Runway
You don’t even have to buy anything. Rent the runway lets fashionistas try on the latest styles (and jewellery), borrow them for a short period of time, and then send them back.
The online marketplace which seems to sell absolutely everything, Amazon has changed the way we approach online shopping. Rather than scrabbling around a single site for hours looking for the right product, Amazon has helped us locate the weird and wonderful at just the click of a button. Need a Minnie Mouse fascinator? There will be one somewhere in the world. And with more than 25m UK homes now having access to superfast broadband thanks to BT, finding that fascinator should be a doddle.
Etsy paved the way for us all to become a “nation of shopkeepers”. Selling the beautiful, the crafty, the handmade and the downright strange, Etsy is the place to go for one-of-a-kind pieces. In a world of high street items and designer knock-offs, it’s a place where you can find exceptional products while simultaneously helping small businesses.
Remember when high fashion meant a trip around a store trying to avoid the gazes of snooty retail assistants? Net-A-Porter changed all that. It meant you didn’t need to put your best togs on simply to go and buy a coat. Instead, you could snuggle up on the sofa and buy expensive items without needing to feel insecure about browsing wearing trainers. Best of all, it also grouped all your favourite brands on one site, something never before done with boutique designer labels.
A budget shopping no-brainer, boohoo.com has made online clothes shopping affordable. It’s all about trend-led fashion and following celebrity inspiration – but at cheaper price points.
The site that made it possible to buy all those little things you’d spotted in boutiques on holiday. You know the type – pretty silver necklaces, gorgeous napkin holders, or beautifully printed kaftans. Notonthehighstreet.com changed how we approached fashion – it helped us support small businesses, while also buying one-off pieces to avoid that “Oh she’s wearing my dress” moment at parties.
Before eBay there weren’t many options for what to do with your old clothes. Take them to a charity shop? Dump them in the bin? eBay allowed us to make money from getting rid of old garments and, for the first time ever, we could justify buying new clothes with the money we’d made. Instead of jumble sales, people put stuff on eBay, and some of it is beautiful. And with over five million BT Wifi hotspots across the UK, you can browse for a stylish bargain wherever you are.
A spin-off from Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter meets all of men’s designer needs with 180 leading brands. Like Net-A-Porter, it stocks a range of boutiques, but it’s for men only and the first of its kind. Expect the sort of brands you might find in Selfridges.
Never before has an online fashion marketplace enabled such specificity when buying clothes. For that “I need a lime green shift dress size 8” moment, Asos fits the bill. Its search engine enables you to group products by colour and style rather than brand or price. Plus, the price points it covers are massive – whether you want something high street or high end, Asos will probably have it.
For discerning men, Oki Ni sells something a little bit different. By steering away from typical designer brands, the site finds top-of-the-range menswear from independent boutiques, keeping you standing out and looking different from everyone else on the high street.
For more information, visit bt.com/connectedbusiness