Once upon a time, residents spent their Saturday afternoons in a highly air conditioned structure called a shopping mall. “The mall” was a place where you had the opportunity to try on clothing, test-drive gadgets, buy items in person and actually take them home the same day. In the past, the shopping mall was the most efficient way to locate a variety of products in the same space, until ecommerce was introduced and the Internet revolutionized itself into a digital mall – quick, simple and effective.
The influx of ecommerce worldwide has become increasingly evident over the past few years. According to the United States Commerce Department (USCD), US ecommerce sales alone totalled an estimate of $194.3 billion in 2011, up 16.1% from $167.3 billion in 2010. In an effort to provide an interactive aspect to consumers’ shopping experiences, window displays have been transformed via online campaigns and social media endeavours. Branded Pinterest boards, for example, have become the norm.
With the influx of ecommerce, online retailers now require a competitive edge to combat the millions of other online spaces vying for web hits and purchases. Here is our list of the top 10 online shopping sites that stand out from the crowd.
ASOS.com is the UK’s largest online-only style and beauty retail store, carrying over 50,000 branded and own label product lines across womenswear, menswear and accessories. ASOS.com allows visitors to narrow their search by trends and collection, as well as provides an online marketplace where you can buy and sell pre-owned vintage. In addition to ASOS.com’s vast social media presence (twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc), the recently introduced “Fashion Finder” provides an opportunity for consumers to create and personalize outfits, look books and fashion videos.
2. NASTY GAL
Founded in 2006, NastyGal.com launched as an eBay store selling an assortment of highly curated vintage pieces. The international style source now offers new and vintage pieces that are handpicked by the NastyGal.com team. Setting themselves apart from the competition, NASTYGAL.com offers public “want lists” – a shopaholics answer to a wedding registry – that allows friends and family to freely search your most wanted pieces for birthdays, holidays, or just because they love you.
3. MR PORTER
MrPorter.com – male cousin to Net-a-Porter.com – launched in 2011 and has since been doing a bang-up job of cracking the notoriously stagnant men’s online market. While the retailer offers every major designer from Alexander McQueen to Ray Ban, it’s MrPorter.com’s online community that sets it apart from imitators. With features like STYLEPEDIA, an online style council offering tips from style icons such as N.E.R.D’s Pharrell Williams, and an iPhone app for on-the-go advice, men no longer have an excuse to look like Van Wilder.
Zappos.com provides members with amazing deals on designer apparel and footwear. Regardless of your budget, Zappos.com promises not only the best prices, but the best service. Zappos.com provides a LIVE HELP service that acts as an instant messenger to their 24/7 on-call support team. If you’re having an issue with products, prices or have other inquiries, Zappos.com has humanized their online platform to ensure that you receive answers to your questions immediately.
Bringing consumers closer to the stars than ever before, Singer22.com provides guests with the option to search by Celebrity Picks and purchase styles worn by A-listers such as Olivia Palermo and Victoria Beckham. If you’re concerned that those Maurie & Eve Tori Buckle Pants won’t look the same on you as they do on Kim Kardashian, not to worry. Singer22.com also provides images of Singer22.com models and regular folk (in the Community section) rocking their gear.
Otteny.com is a luxury shopping experience for women with a distinct taste for understated luxury and contemporary design. For $35, Otteny.com’s personal shopping team will assemble the perfect look for any occasion – without having to leave your living room. Additionally, with one of the most comprehensive Pinterest accounts on the web, consumers can keep up to date daily with additions to the online store.
7. Rent The Runway
Known as the Netflix of fashion, RenttheRunway.com is a New York City based service that allows online shoppers to borrow high-end pieces by brands such as Proenza Schouler and Alice+Olivia and return after use for approximately 10% of the retail price. It’s simple: become a member (FREE!), select your style and size (up to six months in advance) and return following your agreed upon reservation time.
ModCloth.com features more than 700 independent designers and their stock offers products that go beyond fashion and venture into the world of interior design. ModCloth.com’s “Be the Buyer” platform allows customers to be virtual members of ModCloth.com’s buying team and vote items from emerging designers into production via their ‘Pick It’ and ‘Skip It’ options. Results are posted via ModCloth.com’s active social community and voters are notified if their selections have made it into ModCloth.com’s stockroom.
Coming to you from Silicon Valley, California, Fitiquette.com is an online fashion boutique powered by a virtual fitting room. Members create a personalized virtual representation and use this replica to try on different styles and sizes of items offered on the platform. Members see a 3D representation of their model and the clothes they try on, from all 360 degrees. While Fitiquette.com is a relatively new online retailer, the site already boasts an impressive list of brands with a large increase expected in 2012.
Shoptiques.com is an innovative online retailer that allows customers to shop over 200 boutiques for one flat shipping rate. Shoptiques.com organizes its boutiques by neighbourhood, allowing consumers to “shop like a local”. It ships to places around the world, including the U.S., Australia, Canada and France. This one-stop shopping platform is not only a time-saver, but provides independent retailers with an opportunity to join an online community that services the entire world.