ELLE's & Its Readers' Takes On Shopping

Amidst a world of digital snippets and statistical click bait, ELLE Magazine printed a well-researched longread on retail trends an sentiment in its January 2017 issue. I read it with interest because it's a fresh source talking to a different reader than the mainstream business publications. I wanted to know which themes they're seeing -- and reinforcing:

"It's never been more fun to shop." 

What I read: Even online, Instagram is making photos more shoppable. Offline, Story is focused on "experience per square foot". Following Story's idea of retail installations that change, the Mall of America recently launched the small-brand-focused Debut.

What I think: Shopping might be fun but, if there's no end date, it's hard to justify getting to a store just to browse. This is one reason the pop-up shop bubble has outlasted its life expectancy.

 "It seems you can't open a shop without some kind of events schedule." 

What I read: Cue Story's 450 events to date, the Warby Parker book club, Kit & Ace's supper club series, and Frank & Oak's whiskey investment seminar.

What I think: Events work when stores are willing to invest in them even if there's not a one-evening ROI. But retailers could do a better job of getting the right customers (and prospects) to the right events.

"Where everybody knows your name." 

What I read: Some stores are made to be aspirationally comfortable and let you feel like you're shopping in someone's dream closet. Examples are Fivestory and The Line (Manhattan), both of which I've been to and recommend, and Capitol (Charlotte), which I haven't visited.

What I think: When shopping a lot, it's always nice to see something merchandised differently. I like this concept but I don't think it's much more than a visual merchandising twist. Whether someone buys still comes down to the product itself.

"Analog goes high-tech." 

What I read: We want information about stores before we enter them, sometimes we want stores to be shoppable like websites are, and we definitely don't want to wait in line. 

What I think: Technology and, in some ways, e-commerce, has spoiled us. We demand the same conveniences in stores.

"You've been served." 

What I read: The author uses personal shopping services at Saks, Topshop (her best experience), and Stitch Fix. She points out J. Crew's personal stylists will accommodate after-hours appointments and home try-ons and even select Marshall's locations have personal shoppers.

What I think: The DIY culture on Pinterest notwithstanding, we're in a DIFM (do it for me) world in which we can ask Alexa what the weather is instead of pulling our iPhones out of our pocket. So it makes sense we want styling help sometimes and we want it to be accessible at many places. 


Image credit: Carquinez Associates