Shopping in Store

I prefer to shop online.

Not just for beauty items, but everything. I long for my area to have an offering where I can basically buy my groceries online, have someone in the store put together my order, and then just go pick them up (not even asking for delivery – just don’t want to scale the aisles).

Granted, you can’t swatch from the internet – but you can look up the swatches other people have done. It isn’t that I never want to go to a store to shop, but more often than not, I’ll buy online as opposed to shopping in stores.

It isn’t that I’m anti-social (okay, maybe I am – but that isn’t why); I just prefer to be able to select exactly what I need without having to hunt the aisles and browse the shelves. If I’m actually planning on making a purchase, I’m on a mission; I’m much happier if I can just search for that item, add it to my cart, done. If I’m in the store, even if I was familiar with the general store layout, planograms change. There’s no guarantee that I’d know where what I’m looking for is located.

Case and point:

Shopping in Store (Ulta Beauty)

Two months ago I was in Ulta with a friend to buy new heads for my Clarisonic. We went over to where their prestige skincare was, to the aisle that was dedicated to the Clarisonic devices. They had displays and devices a-plenty, they had boxes and testers galore…single brush heads? There were twenty! But who cares, no big deal, I wanted four.

The four pack was a far better deal than buying four individual brush heads, but it was nowhere to be found. It was later in the evening, but not yet close to closing time – but no sales associates were around. I could really see only one, and she was with another customer. We went around that area several times looking for them, but no dice. Eventually, I had to be that guy and flag down one that sales associate as she came near, looking for something for her other customer. She pointed me, “that way,” but had to (understandably) scurry off to attend to who she was working with. Eventually, I found them on a random standalone shelf in direction she pointed which was nowhere near skincare stuff. That whole part of the process took probably 10-15 minutes.

I’m glad my friend is patient!

Related to that, I always seem to wind up with what I don’t need from a sales associate while shopping in stores.

Most retailers’ (all types, not just beauty) policies require employees to greet any customers they hadn’t seen yet – even if they’ve already been greeted. Those policies also require the employees to check back with people periodically. As a customer, I do like to be greeted, and I like to know that an associate is available or where to find one if I need one. I do NOT, however, like to be checked up on every 3-5 minutes. 10-15 is okay – any more frequently when I’ve told you I don’t want/need help or am browsing feels like you’re stalking or hounding me, and it makes me feel like I can’t shop at my own pace. It doesn’t create a good shopping experience.

I feel like I wind up with either extreme. If I don’t have someone breathing down my neck, I end up needing help but unable to locate anyone. It was not busy that evening in Ulta but took a long time to find someone to help me (and I had to steal a moment of her time from someone else). There were employees visible when we walked in, but ten minutes later they had all but vanished. I never seem to find myself in a situation where there’s a happy medium.

I feel more comfortable browsing without intent to buy on the merchant’s website, from home rather than shopping in store – I’m not in other customers’ way, and they aren’t in mine. I’m not a face in the store that the employees feel the need to fuss over (which I don’t like anyway). Plus, pajamas. Paying for shipping isn’t fun and I usually try to plan my purchases in such a way that I avoid paying shipping costs (meeting their minimum or having a promo code).

On top of all that, you can’t use eBates in brick-and-mortar stores. I only recently saw one of their awkward commercials that make them seem a little sketchy, but I can confidently say (with three years of eBates experience) that they are legit. You can sign up for free here – this is a referral link that does end up earning me like $5 if you sign up, but I’m not sharing this to make money off you – I’m sharing it because I believe in it and have gotten over $400 back in three years – here’s a tiny screenshot of my cash back to prove it.

How do you prefer to do your shopping? Browsing the shelves, or behind a screen?

What's on your mind?