During these unusual times of stay at home orders and mandates for social distancing, we’re being asked and sometimes forced to stay away from not only people we love but also activities we love. For many off us, shopping is therapeutic, that’s why they call it “shopping therapy.” For others, shopping is a way we connect with our friends and family as a fun activity that we can do together. The silver lining I see to the Covid19 crises is that it is forcing all of us to look for new ways to do the things we have always loved. Maybe you are using Face Time or Marco Polo to stay connected to your friends and family. Maybe you are using Zoom to have meeting with your team or, like me, doing bible studies over Zoom. As each week passes and we become more and more aware of the things we miss from our normal lives, we are becoming more willing to think outside of the box and learn new ways of still doing the things we love.
If shopping is one of those things for you , this blog post will give you 8 ways to get creative and be a savy shopper during quarantine. Here goes:
- Use Your Favorite Boutique’s Online Store: Many boutiques already had an online presence prior to Covid19, and like us, are now ramping up their offerings by increasing their online inventory. Some boutiques that weren’t online, are now getting there. Shopping from a small business online is a little different than shopping with, say, LL Bean. First of all, the very nature of a boutique is to offer exclusive items that customers can purchase without worrying about seeing 15 other people in town wearing the same item. Using my boutique, as an example, the most we buy of a single style is 6 pieces. Quite often it might be only 4. As a result, there is a limited supply and once the item is gone, it won’t be re-ordered. Thus, like shopping in store, if you see something you like, grab it! It may not be there next week. Also, boutique owners know their products: how they fit, how they wash, what they match. Just because you are using an online venue, doesn’t mean you can’t call that boutique up on the phone and ask questions. Many times I have worked with customers over the phone who used our online store as a online catalog and then asked me what else I had in the store that would complete the look they were trying to achieve. In the end, the sale was a combination of online offerings and other items that I suggested.
- Shop by phone: If you are savy and know the brands that you love, it is quite easy to shop by phone. Usually, boutiques carry clothing lines that have a consistent fit. So, that favorite jean that you love, for example, is just a phone call and shipping bag away!
- Use Drop Shipping: The financial burden on small businesses has led to strained cash flow and inventory shortages. As a result, many of my vendors are offering to drop ship items directly to the consumer. The way this works is you call up your favorite boutique to get a specific item. If they are out of that item, the boutique can call their vendor, and if they have it in stock, the vendor can ship the item directly to you. That way, the store owner doesn’t have to invest in inventory he or she might not sell. It’s a win, win for everyone. Just ask your boutique if they are offering drop ship.
- Shop Via Messenger: Most boutiques can be reached through Messenger, an app that allows for a private conversation very similar to texting. Yesterday, I did a sale over Messenger with a customer. She told me what she was wanting, and I found items that I thought she would like. I took pictures and sent them to her through Messenger. She picked the items she liked, and then I called her to complete the purchase. You can also you Messenger, oftentimes, to ask questions about products or fit for items you find on an online store as well.
- Shop Via Live Sales: If you don’t know what a Live Sale is, let me explain. This is basically virtual shopping where you watch a live video on Facebook of someone showing you items available for purchase. If you see something you want to buy, you comment on the items as they are presented in the Live Sale, and the transaction is completed sometime after the video ends. It is first come, first served, which ads an element of fun. This type of shopping comes closest to being able to replicate shopping with your friends. Live Sales are scheduled and so you can all get together in a group call and watch the live sale together and talk about the things you like and what you should buy. You can also communicate with each other in the comments while the Live Sale is happening. It is fun and creates a social shopping experience while still being safe.
- Shop Via A Video Chat: You might be familiar with Apple’s app Face Time which allows you to video chat in real time. This app can also be used to shop at your favorite boutique. Essentially, you do a video chat with the boutique owner and you can see items you might want to buy right during the chat. That way, you can give direct feedback and ask questions like, “show me what the back of that top looks like” or “can you show me a close up of that detail on the sleeve?”
- Shop By Appointment: Even if your favorite boutique has limited hours or is closed for in-store shopping, many owners might consider letting you schedule an appointment to shop. This can be done while still practicing social distancing and using safe practices like sanitizing. Of course, you would never want to request this option if you have been exposed to sick person or are sick yourself.
- Personal Shopping: If you have been shopping with a specific boutique for a long time, the owner probably knows you and what you like. In this case, it is relatively easy for a boutique to offer personal shopping services where you communicate what you are needing and you allow the owner to choose items for you. These items can then be shipped or picked up. Even if the boutique owner doesn’t know you, a simple phone consultation can usually produce all the info necessary for he or she to shop for you.
As for my boutique, Fashion Crossroads, I am offering all of these services to my customers. My online store can be found at www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com. I have been working very hard while my store is closed to in-store shopping to add new merchandise, and I have expanded our online inventory greatly. Additionally, I am here Tuesday-Saturday 12-5 for shopping by appointment, personal shopping or phone shopping. I am offering free shipping on orders over $100 or alley way pick up. Also, I just recently launched a weekly Live Sale every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. You can see my most recent Live Sale here: 4/1/20 Live Sale. The next one is scheduled for next Wednesday night 4/8/20 at 8 p.m. To watch live, join our VIP Facebook Group called Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas.
Hopefully, this blog post has opened you eyes to ways you can shop that you might not have tried. During this time, your favorite boutique needs your support! I encourage you to reach out to them and find out what they are doing to make shopping accessible to you. If you would like to watch a video with more ideas on this topic, check out my latest YouTube video Ways To Be A Savy Shopper During Quarantine.