As a single female, I get to think about shopping and dating a lot. Enough to draw some serious conclusions for myself.
One is that e-commerce could never become a self-sustaining model. Anyone who has ever done online dating will know what I mean. A description, some statistics and a photo guarantees that you will receive something that might resemble the data but certainly cannot promise a joyful experience.
In order to pick something that you would actually want to add to your life, it's usually important to actually see it, touch it, sense, smell, hear it. A description and a picture can never simulate the real thing. Whether it's shoes or dresses or fruit, a purse or even a swimming cap, I like to feel something before I buy it, and returning online purchases is more cumbersome than turning a guy down after a date.
Of course, regular retail stores are also not that satisfying. You arrive, explore and fall in love, only to discover that they are out of your size and are not expecting any more in the near future - unless you want it in orange, made from a whole other fabric and only a size smaller – information that is entirely irrelevant to you.
Instead, I would love to see online retail supported by a local gallery model. These will be small showroom spaces where you can get a taste of your object of desire and determine how it feels, fits and flows. It's the first date without the awkward, soulless, academic introduction of online dating. With lower overhead and very little need for inventory, these retail environments can focus their entire attention (and budget) on the shopping experience. These visceral gallery spaces will serve as places of connection.
My hope in writing this blog is to provoke online retail brands (and dating websites) to consider the ways in which they might extend their experiences into physical environments.