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To adapt or not to adapt to the future of shopping

Andrea E. Acosta, entertainment editor

Once upon a time, before phrases like “add to cart” and “shipping and handling” were an option, people used to look forward to the weekend to go to the mall, where they could relieve their stress, enjoy the art of shopping with a friend or to simply use a 20 percent off coupon that was delivered to you by a mailman at your doorstep.

Nowadays, however, people have adopted online shopping as the preferred way to shop. Online shopping has become a trend and it has become so popular over the past decade that US e-commerce sales alone totaled an estimated $225.5 billion in 2012 —a 15.8 percent increase from 2011, according to the United States Commerce Department.

Although it might be a time saver, this new way of buying definitely takes away from the experience.

In the past, real shopping—at the mall—was a place where you were greeted by an incredible amount of clothes and enveloped by all types of fabrics—cashmere, wool, cotton, polyester and suede—the minute your feet entered the store. This calmness, however, would usually last for just a minute, until you would see a sign of hope, of excitement, anxiety, a big red rectangular sign with the words “SALE 60 percent off all merchandise” plastered in front of you, and your instinct for survival of the fittest would kick in.

Online shopping encourages you to shop comfortably in your PJs, lounge around on the couch or bed and buying garments and accessories with just the tips of your fingertips—who would of thought?

With Black Friday just around the corner, however, shopping online might sound better than ever, since long lines and getting hit by desperate customers are non-existent in this virtual world, but have only increased online sales up to 23 percent in 2012.

Thanks to this fast-paced growing commerce and the evolution of the Internet, shopping has been able to transform itself into a stress-free digital mall—a quick, simple and effective way to get what you want. During these times of holiday shopping, the Internet provides us with a wider range of options, becoming a life-saver, literally.

Long gone are the days when in order to buy a dress you had to stand in a long line at the dressing room, only to find out that you didn’t like it or had grabbed the wrong size. Online shoppers, however, don’t have to worry about any of this anymore.

They are able to stay at home under a cozy blanket, in comparison to the millions who decide to camp out in front of stores, freezing in the cold temperatures, all in hopes of getting that great 15 percent Black Friday discount.

The only downside of ordering online, however, is that shoppers have to trust their instincts and rely fully on the retailer to deliver the right garments and pray to God it fits. Surprisingly, the e-commerce world keeps on providing new ways to persuade the costumer by giving into online, that they have launched retail websites where shoppers can try on clothes virtually. is an example of this, and it is a virtual fitting room, where shoppers can create a personalized virtual representation and use this replica to try on different styles and sizes of items offered on the platform. Shoppers also get to see a 3-D representation of their model and clothes—so now you don’t have to worry about the clothes fitting you physically, but you just have to make sure the clothes fit the 3-D model on your screen.

Another shopping media outlet that has been a result of the rapid adaptation to online shopping is, where a personal shopping team assembles the perfect look for your special occasion—without having to leave your room. If you are running low on cash, there is another option that lets you rent high-end garments and return them after the reserved date. allows you to borrow high-end pieces by brands such as Proenza Schouler and save up to 10 percent from the total retail price.

So, whether or not online shopping is better or not, if more options like these are made in order to persuade shoppers to go online there might be a chance that in the future we will only have virtual malls, where we can create our own avatar and shop with our other avatar friends. Although I am skeptical this may appeal to many shoppers who may not have the time to spend at an actual mall.

It is expected that by the end of this year, there will be a 13.3 percent increase on sales online and that by 2017 online shopping will reach $370 billion, which represents a nearly 10 percent compound annual growth rate from 2012.

Until this happens, however, we shall see if more shoppers give in to this new manner of shopping—deciding whether to save a drastic amount of time by not going to a mall or buying online and risking having to return items and pay shipping and handling fees.

I can only imagine what a future Black Friday will be like.

Andrea Acosta may be reached at [email protected].

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To adapt or not to adapt to the future of shopping