My Experiences of Buying Apparels Online: Navigating Product Descriptions

You have probably tried buying apparels online. As for me, every time there is a fashion sale on Flipkart or Amazon or Myntra, I open the website or the app, bung in a few items into the cart and then promptly empty them the next day. It is not that I haven’t bought stuff online, but shopping from the comfort of home or office (in the off chance that I am not bogged down by work and I am my own boss, wink!) is not as satisfactory fulfilling an experience as going to my favourite store brick-and-cement-and-glass store.

Dubitable Descriptions Breed Dubious Buyers

I love the fact that online sites give me a lot more options than, say a Lifestyle or a Biba. Lifestyle has launched an online shopping site recently. And the fact that I know the sizes that fit me from the Lifestyle catalogue makes shopping less of a gamble and a lot more of fun. However, a major problem I face, which I am sure you do too, is lack of adequate and authentic information about the product. When I buy a saree for instance, Amazon or Flipkart will have details pertaining to, inter alia, the material, the colour, the print and even whether the seller has included a blouse piece or not, like in the screenshot given below. However, when I want to buy a dress, a pretty party dress in white, say, I need to know if there is a lining underneath the outer material. Take a look at this sample that I came across while browsing at Amazon.in, check the screenshot below.

product descriptions examples
Screenshot as accessed on 7th August 2017

Is this sufficient to let you decide and risk your money and, more importantly, probably ruin an occasion for which you were buying this? And it makes me wonder if I should be doing hands-on shopping as opposed to online shopping.

Details Don’t Double Toil and Trouble

The other day I came across a salwar-kameez on both Flipkart and Amazon that I loved. In the accompanying pictures, the material appeared thin, even a tad flimsy, and the product description said it was chiffon. I was not sure whether the kameez had a lining or not. It looked like the kameez did need a lining and I did not want to take the leap that angels will not take and buy it on faith. Luckily for me, six months down the line, the same salwar kameez was on sale in Myntra, check the screenshot.  Their product description was considerably more detailed compared to the other sites, and I could see (and read) that the kameez had a cotton lining. I was hooked and placed an order the very same day.

Screenshot as accessed on 7th August 2017

Different sites provide different levels of product descriptions and details. (Take a look at these above links from different sites). It is these little extras that they add that makes the difference between making online shopping a pleasure or a pain an adventure bordering on the suicidal. Sure, most sites say you can return a product within 30 days, and most sites are pretty relaxed about our reasons for returning a product. Check this screenshot.

Screenshot as accessed on 7th August 2017

Again, a decision of existential significance. And I personally do not like returning a product. After all, I bought it with a certain expectation to fulfil, a need that I perceived. When I have to return a product for some reason, I feel cheated, and my need remains gnawing at me.

Sketchy Information Leave a Lot to the Imagination

When there is a detailed product description I do not have to spend too much time figuring out the nitty-gritties. To come back to my white dress, the picture listed on this site as shown in the screenshot.

Screenshot as accessed on 7th August 2017

The above image shows me if it is a zip-up dress and whether the zipper is concealed and the position of the zipper.

Same way, the image should also tell me if a dress, now a denim dress that I shortlisted as in the below screenshot should also tell me the distance between the funky buttons so that I know if they will come open when I wear them on my asymmetrical, early middle-age (I prefer ‘late youth,’ but people tend to disagree) figure. I do hate a gaposis.  Anyway, it would be an added bonus if Amazon, Flipkart or Jabong had information on the material used for the lining.

Screenshot as accessed on 7th August 2017

From Query to Solution to Resolution

Don’t get me wrong, I love online shopping. I sit in the cool comfort of my home or my home office, instead of traipsing from shop to shop in the sweltering heat, listening to shopping assistants drone on and on about stuff I do not want to buy or wear, and haggle with shop owners. I do not want to go shopping for a white dress and return with three dresses foisted on me by the sweet-talking shop assistant. Therefore when a site like Myntra gives me the minutiae in their product description, not only is it useful, it makes shopping much more heavenly. Now I feel the shop has come home. And as yet, there is no Shopaholics Anonymous, but who is searching?

Monmi Baruah
Monmi Baruah is one of the co-founders and the Executive Director of Coffeegraphy