Open Thread: How Do You Shop Online?
04.04.19

Do you hoard things in your shopping cart in the clouds, supermarket sweep-style, hoping you’ll stop thinking about whatever you put in there, but anticipating that you won’t, so thank god for the insurance policy that is a digital cart that does not require collateral payment? Do you put links to products in a draft in your inbox to serve as a reminder of what is enticing you while on a caffeine high that sent you through an Etsy spiral, in pursuit of pearl studs, only to find that following the comedown, you actually don’t want pearl studs?

What does it take to get you past the checkout lane? A good return policy? Free shipping? Sustainable packaging? All three?

Do you visit websites only when you want, nay, need, something, like a dress for your best friend’s wedding, or are you a nonpartisan browser, curious to see what’s out there whether or not you are poised to spend money? Do you drop in only to obtain inspiration — to see how a platform is thinking about, say, jean shorts — so you can take to your own closet armed with a fresh perspective?

Do you engage in performative thought processing: engaging with websites like they’re fashion magazines, visiting them only to see what is out there to apply what you learn to places that accommodate more affordable options? Do you take screenshots of what you like and post them to social media as if a public proclamation of your taste? What are you most likely to buy when you do pull the trigger?

I have been thinking a lot about online shopping habits — what we put in our carts, how we scroll through pages, what we look for when we’re scrolling, whether we refine our searches and what it might say about how we approach acquisition. Do you feel safer among the vast options of a multi-brand e-tailer, or are you more satisfied by a website that sells, like, one thing?

I personally use online window shopping as either “market research,” or, uh, meditation. When it’s the former, I scroll and scroll, waiting for something to give me an idea. Most recently, I am convinced that peasant skirts are back, which you will hear more about in the next several weeks.

When it’s the latter, I let my gaze get soft, my brain quiet down and then bask in the silence — the good kind of mind-numbingness. It used to happen very often that during these routine searches, an impulsive pang of MUSTHAVETHAT would come up, but lately, that doesn’t happen as often. I wonder if it’s because there is too much stuff, or not enough good stuff, or simply because I am getting older.

I do know, though, that sometimes — and especially at the turn of a season like spring when it’s too bright to wear dreary-ass sweaters, but too cold not to — a little something-something is all it takes to promise a pick-me-up. Where do you find these pick-me-ups? Do you even look for them? Are you less or more inclined to spend money on stuff these days? Tell me why! Or why not! I’m dying to talk about it.

Photo by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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