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Image: Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr

Crowdsourcing: Using the general public to do research or other work, which may or may not be paid. (The Free Dictionary)Internet has been a true game changer for the retail industry. Specifically, it has been significantly changed consumer habits and has increased accessibility to fashion goods.

Individuals have the choice to shop at the actual retail location, on their mobile, or through a website. The internet never “closes”, allowing for transactions around the clock, any day of the week, no matter the weather conditions–mobile or laptop shopping is at your finger tips.

There have been major game players in this field. With eBay getting the ball rolling, a lot more online shopping spaces have been created for all consumer needs. For example, Etsy (a personnel favourite) offers various accessories, clothes, shoes, and handbags from across the world–simply become a member and shop till you drop. Net-A-Porter is a legendary online fashion retailer that houses a wide variety of retailers and covers all fashion basis, they are known to stay on trend. Gilt Groupe is a members only (by invitation only) website that offers their exclusive members 60% off retail price on designer items. Etsy, Net-a-Porter, and Gilt Groupe all have one major thing in common: they only exist solely as online retail spaces, no physical retail locations exist for any one of these companies.

The emerging of online retail spaces raise a few questions:

1.) What is happening to the tradition of “social shopping”?

2.) What is the true importance of establishing a connection with the product? (i.e. trying a pair of shoes on prior to purchase or smelling the perfume?)

3.) What does the future hold in store for shopping malls? Are we moving into an era where shopping malls will be abandoned and unnecessary?

According to Mashable.com, consumers want to shop online because they feel empowered. This empowerment comes from being able to personalize your item and share about your purchase with others. As well, crowdsourcing is extremely appealing to online shopping; instead of asking the opinion of a friend or of a sales associate, individuals are able (through a social media platform or chat room) to ask hundreds of individuals for product recommendations or a direct question like, ‘How do I look?’. Elements such as mobile devices make crowdsourcing and online shopping extremely easy–once again, at any time, any day of the week, no matter the weather conditions.

Several companies have clued in to the constant accessibility, availability, and instantaneity of mobile shopping. Pose is a great example of a platform that takes full advantages of mobile applications; it’s a shopping application — available for iPhone and Android — that provides users with an updated stream of various items around the globe. Essentially, every time the individual opens the app a new set of items are presented to them. This mobile application uses the wide availability of the world wide web and the advantage of having something be “mobile” in order to continuously engage potential customers and keep old ones coming back.

The emergence of ‘e-tailers’ is a huge game changer for the retail industry; no longer are consumers interested in shopping around in a crowded mall on a lazy sunday. 21st century consumers are demanding a wide array of products at their finger tips, when desired. 

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