Fashion, One Click Away

All about e-commerce in Buenos Aires.
Images of different designers you can find at Under Boutique. Credit: Under Boutique.

Shopping from the comfort of your home was inconceivable just a few decades ago. Fortunately, nowadays it’s a reality for many Internet users. Convenience, full availability (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) and low prices (or at least, lower than those offered in shops) are the attractive aspects of this modality. Argentineans are no strangers to this experience. However, local fashion brands and e-commerce websites have only recently grown in popularity.

The Argentinean Chamber of Electronic Commerce (CACE) stated that 40.1 billion pesos were spent on online shopping during 2014 and predicted a 58% growth for e-commerce in 2015 (these last statistics are yet to be confirmed). They also declared that 49% of Argentineans had made at least one online shop by 2014. Furthermore, last CyberMonday, which took place on November 2nd and 3rd 2015, registered sales for 2.2 billion pesos.

CACE says its numbers of fashion consumption were doubled over the last year and 43% of all e-commerce operations between last January and July concerned clothing and footwear. The top-selling products are boots, sneakers, shoes, handbags, jackets, watches, perfumes and jeans. What’s more, a fashion article was purchased every three seconds on CyberMonday.

As a result of this growing trend, many local retailers and commercial brands are launching their own e-commerce sites. CACE indicates that 70% of online clothing shops were opened in the past three years. Apart from this, there are many designers that sell their creations through common websites or hosts that stage a certain proposal or aesthetic to potential shoppers. For instance, The Net Boutique and Under Boutique.  

A virtual space for High Fashion

The Net Boutique's slogan is: ‘Buy online the best of Argentinean fashion’. They offer clothing and accessories for both women and men, created by top designers: Blackmamba, Fabián Zitta, Garza Lobos, Tramando, Vero Alfie, etc. According to the site, their proposal is "to turn the process of shopping into an irresistible experience that satisfies a private pleasure, such as receiving a gift given by yourself". Proof of this can be seen in their exclusive packaging: elegant black boxes with silk ribbons.

The website’s layout appearance is similar to a fashion magazine, including editorials with links to buy the clothes worn by the models. It also displays a traditional search engine on its menu, alongside an outlet section. In addition to all of this, you can watch a mini-series called e-lovers, starring actress Isabel Macedo and football player Ezequiel Lavezzi. Every look they show on the series is available on the shop.

The Net Boutique was created in 2010 by Agustina Maggio and Carolina Gándara. That year, Gándara told a local newspaper about the reasons why they founded this project, "On one hand, to willingly generate something innovative and with style. On the other hand, by being users of online shops from abroad, we recognized the lack of an online shop that went beyond the sales catalogue. In other words, we realized that there wasn’t a space online that, apart from selling clothes, would give the possibility to acquire design and fashion from one’s home".

To be under

Under Boutique consists of a recently launched website that takes new design talents under its wing. Belen Amigo, Chain_García Bello, and N.A.M y Talitha IND. are some of the interesting names that you might find in this breeding ground.

Santiago Valdivieso, Under Boutique’s CEO, explained that it all started when he was talking to some friends who were designers and found that they all faced the same obstacles when starting their own brands. "Generally, a designer is in charge of different departments that imply having a brand of his own (design, marketing, sales, accounting, etc.). Our idea is to solve the online sales problems for them by taking up the responsibility of advertising, logistics, payments and all the rest of the work that comes with this kind of sale", he added. "It also occurred to us that, by gathering the best independent design brands of the market, we might generate a client flow, alluring those who are attracted to quality and original garments, which are not available at any shopping centre of the country ".

That last part is exactly what sets Under Boutique apart from the competition. As Valdivieso explains it: "Our target is a client who’s interested in a well confectioned piece of clothing, aiming to look different from the rest by wearing an original item. We’re not interested in offering mainstream brands because there are already other sites which do that and you can also find them at the shopping malls. This is why our manifesto is: no one wants to be just an average Joe. Don’t walk over the surface, be under".

Consequently, Under Boutique’s purpose is to smooth the path of young and independent designers to success by taking their products directly from their workshops to their client’s houses. "Nowadays we offer items of clothing and accessories to men and women on a curated space, where you can find the best selection of design just a click away", Valdivieso explains.

When asked about a possible reluctance from Argentineans to buy clothes online, he said that their experience and their latest market research both show that an aversion to online shopping is a fast-receding trend. Moreover, Valdivieso declares that "even though there is still a long way until e-commerce in Argentina reaches international levels, online clothing sales will exceed traditional sales offline sales. We consider this as an important advantage since we’re in the early stages of the market and counting on a bright future".

Under Boutique has a challenge set in its mind for 2016. The company is looking forward to being the number one in the sector of online independent design sales in Argentina. To do that, they expect to register more than 100,000 monthly visits and offer the creations of more than 100 brands from all over the world. "We are working hard to become the sector’s leaders in Latin America and to include the European and North American market. At present we have already added our first European brand, AUCUN, from Paris, France", Valdivieso states.  

'Even though there is still a long way until e-commerce in Argentina reaches international levels, online clothing sales will exceed traditional sales offline sales'. Santiago Valdivieso, Under Boutique CEO

The future is here

The road of e-commerce is only beginning in Argentina. As more and more users start buying clothes online, more and more brands decide to open online versions of their shops, join websites or, simply, sell exclusively through the Internet or Social networks. This is an increasingly popular phenomenon.

The allure to people is undeniable. Being able to search for clothes and accessories online, see what most brands have to offer and buy the article you want from your own sofa at any time you want is a marvelous ability to have. This way of shopping is effortless and comfortable, explaining its popularity with so many people.

However, e-commerce in Argentina is still in its early stages and, consequently, has a few things to improve in order to keep growing and adding new members to its community. Argentina has a law concerning clothing sizes (to establish a healthy standard and availability for all brands in the country) but it is not being complied with and has a low level of enforcement from the State. As a result, the user must study each size table to choose clothes online and pray that they have that item in different sizes.

E-commerce websites must be clear with the information and description of the product and show several photographs in order to allow the viewer to have a complete vision of the piece. Other logistical aspects to review are reducing delivery deadlines and incorporating offline channels. For example, CACE states that 56% of the companies that sell clothes online don’t use their own shops as an option for buying product that are sold online.

One of the companies’ biggest goals is to build, keep and promote loyalty amongst an online community. It is suggested that they should keep in touch with clients, design campaigns, activities and promotions to establish a long-term relationship with potential buyers. Communication must be opened before and after the sale is done. In the end, timely and high quality assistance is highly regarded and can easily generate trust.

All things considered, online shopping is the future of commerce worldwide, and not only for fashion. Argentina is just a reflection of this developing system and is a clear example of its constantly accelerating growth. Perhaps someday going shopping will be out of date.