We all need convenience at times and it's certainly a great benefit to many consumers, however, a one size fits all approach is not always best. It is great to be able to buy multiple items from the same place due to our fast paced lives and busy schedules, but we may be compromising not only on quality but also missing out on savings if we don't shop around.
Can we shop smarter whilst maintaining some degree of convenience?
Think about how you currently shop and use the list below to guide you along the way. Making small changes can make a huge difference so it's not about changing everything regarding your shopping habits. It is also important to look into the sustainability of the products, with independents not always coming out on top, so be objective when doing your research. If you are interested in looking into your spending from a sustainable fashion perspective, check out this blog post.
The Returns Process
Although never guaranteed, there is a high possibility that if you want to return an item to the original independent store you can with no question, so long as you keep the receipt for proof of purchase. For independent retailers offering this service can be the thing that separates them from the competition, as consumers like to know the goods are protected, this level of service is not always replicated with larger scale operations.
By researching individual businesses on their returns policies you can start to get a sense of the companies values. Some major online retailers make their values clear by putting profit above company reputation and customer service, by taking off the cost of postage from refunds allocated. Although this may lead to some customers being unhappy with the service, due to other cost savings consumers will continue to return if prices are significantly lower.
If you would like to know more about your consumer rights when returning good then check out this article.
If you want to try something new or have an occasion coming up that you want to stand out at, chances are that if you head to a major retailer someone at the event could be wearing the same outfit. I know there are a lot worse issues to have in the world, but if you can avoid this situation and feel extra confident in what you're wearing then what's the harm in trying something different, you may discover a whole new side to yourself.
Aligning your values
Whether you are environmentally conscious or really value trust, whatever your values maybe finding brands and businesses who support similar causes or are in some way aligned to your values means you become more invested in the business and their products. Of course businesses know this so try to capture your interest in a variety of ways, but as long as you stay focused on what you believe and invest your money into those with similar values the faster relationships and trust are built which can bring great fulfilment into your life.
Accessible For All
It is important that businesses offer the same level of service to all customers, however due to various business reasoning this is not always the case. How many times have you gone to purchase something online and been instructed to create an account with multiple fields of personal information required. For most this is not an issue as it has become a part of online shopping, however if you consider those who doesn't have an email address, this process can be very time consuming and overwhelming.
The more accessible options businesses can provide individuals the better, such as having a local store (this does still depending on individual situations and locations). Most independents also offer the same shipping fees to all customers with the exception of international shipping (No subscription required).
Supporting local communities
Many independent businesses have schemes whereby they give back to the local community either in the form of charity donations, events, or social initiatives. Check out what local stores near you are doing to support your community. Supporting these businesses is also a great way to get to know new people, especially the locals if you have recently moved to a new area.
If having lots of brands and styles to choose from in one place is a deal-breaker for you then you may need to spend more time researching which stores have the particular brands you like or similar alternatives. Although it is doable to achieve a similar variety of items by visiting multiple places, it is time consuming and not for everyone. Compromising is key in this situation as you may have to sacrifice one thing for another such as your time for variety, quality and cost.
Time-consuming to plan
Following on from the last point, a plan will undoubtedbly help you to decide which places to visit ensuring you buy everything you need in a reasonable amount of time, however the time it takes to plan this all out is a task in itself. There are various ways you can plan and track your purchases either through the use of budgets, planners or spreadsheets but all require dedication and constant monitoring or they become useless. This can not only be a drain on your time but also your mental health.
To minimise the amount of time needed you could trial a plan for specific birthday or Christmas presents and see how successfully you are. Even if you don't get it right the first time you at least have something to go on which will improve your money mindset when making purchases in the future.
Due to the nature of business there are always going to be discrepancies between companies depending on their budgets, investors and strategies, it does not mean that service level or quality should be compromised. The volume of customers that independents can manage is significantly lower compared to a well established large scale operation, but lower volumes may mean greater care is given to improve the overall customer experience. This is due to independents recognising the importance of keeping their customers happy in order for the business to survive. This smaller scale operation also means that independent have higher manufacturing costs meaning higher prices or less sales and discounts avalibale.
As a result of smaller teams and workspaces you may also be worried about slower shipping and efficiency compared to one of the big names, and you may be right in some cases. However, don't let the big brands fool you that they have their delivery service aced as mistakes still happen, which is why it is important to look at credible reviews or ask friends and family if they have used the company before. That way you are being objective in your decision-making rather than basing it off of size = reliable.
Depending on how far you are willing to travel, your location plays a huge role in the options you have available. If you don't have access to a car it makes it even harder to experience certain shops if they are far from public transport. However recently there has been a shift with big brands moving away from city centres in favour of retail parks, so you may find that heading into the city is the easier way for you to find new and unique business on your doorstep.
Blog Post Author:
Jasmine is an event graduate from the University of Chester currently working in the world of events!
She believes technology is a great tool for learning and is passionate about sustainability, something we certainly didn't learn enough about in school... but we can find out for ourselves!
Follow Jaz on Instagram