Is online shopping the new reality for retail?

The pandemic has increased the demand for online shopping. Ailbhe Delargy, a seller on the Depop site for small-scale traders, tells The Liberty how it’s affected her business. 

People walk past Topshop, Oxford Street

Topshop Oxford Street, London. Photo: BBC 

Vintagevangoths is an online shop started by Ailbhe Delargy in September 2019 and is based in Ireland.  

She uses Depop to sell her items as well as having an Instagram account to help direct traffic to her Depop page.  

“During the first lockdown I experienced a large spike in sales and there is certainly a heightened interest in online shopping across Instagram and other platforms. I think that social media has played a huge role in popularising online shopping,” she says. 

“Pop up stalls or temporary stalls are more practical than shops at the moment.”

Brands such as Pretty Little Thing and ASOS have benefitted from the pandemic, being based entirely online, suggesting they are possibly more sustainable and easier to handle.  

Since their focus is solely on their website and social media, their marketing strategies were well prepared for the pandemic, and they would have had little improvements to make. 

“I would prioritise an online website over a store as it’s a lot easier to direct consumers to a website than a physical shop,” Delargy says. 

Since the pandemic hit last March, online shopping has become the more convenient and efficient way to buy clothes, forcing brands to focus on their online sites and somehow changing the way we shop entirely.  

“You can run an online shop from home or a small studio space, which is cheaper. I would one day like a store but I think it would be more practical to have temporary stalls or pop up shops instead,” Delargy says. 

Social media platforms are turning into marketing and retail businesses, with people using TikTok and Depop to promote their self-made brands, and Instagram full of influencers promoting the latest fashion while holidaying in Dubai. 

As lockdowns are extended, retailers are forced to face the current reality, and may have to invest further in their online sites – often at the expense of workers, town centres and brands. 

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