I enjoy online shopping. Okay, so perhaps in South Africa, the trend to purchase online and wait a few days for your parcel to arrive is a trend yet to really take off, but in the UK and the US, online purchases can arrive the same day or the following day – and this is where online shopping for South Africa s hopefully going.  International online retail businesses have seen that South Africa is a possible market for growth, and so many have launched online stores here – some have failed and closed, while others have thrived – one of which being Zando. What first started off as a store that offered great deals and service primarily for shoes has grown phenomenally, and now educates and influences style views among savvy online consumers. I was recently invited to a style trend update session, and was very pleasantly surprised – so much so that yes, I delved into the online store, and decided to put Zando to the test.

The ZANDO box.

The ZANDO box.

So, a couple of times a year, Zando invites a handful of media and bloggers to a style update, where their professionals update s on the various fashion styles to prepare for – surprisingly, these change each month! And here I was thinking that style was seasonal, but no, apparently I am stuck in the old way of thinking about fashion and style – my wardrobe has to be updated every month. There go my plans to retire early…if at all. But hearing what they had to say made sense, and perhaps it is more about viewing the styles that are coming and adding a few items to your wardrobe.

2013 Season Styles for Men by Zando

2013 Season Styles for Men by Zando

Looking from August through to December, the styles that Men are expected to adopt are “Cool kid on the block”, “Safari Army”, “Athletic Aesthetics” and ending off the year with “Modern Gentlemen”. Once again, I must state that, I would never think it necessary to update my wardrobe every month to a completely new look, and further, that there are some styles that would simply not work for me. But have a look at next year styles and see if any speak to you.

Men's fashion according to Zando for the remainder of 2013

Men’s fashion according to Zando for the remainder of 2013

And here’s whats coming for 2014.

And here are the trends for Men's fashion for the first couple of months of 2014

And here are the trends for Men’s fashion for the first couple of months of 2014

Well, its nice to know what’s coming, and even nicer to be able to see exactly what your style is called. According to the above two images, my style fits into the Safari Army and Rock ‘n Grunge styles, and with a little bit of force the Classic Gent (more for work though). Throughout the presentation we were given a clear view and understanding to what is influencing the current and forthcoming styles, and, without going into too much details, I got their point. In short, Zando completely understands the style trends, and shops accordingly to be able to bring these style trends to the South African market faster than most retailers can. What’s more, they can change direction with their styles far faster than the large retailers so as to always be on trend, and, because they don’t have large retail space overheads, the prices are not ridiculously expensive. Actually, I found them more than reasonable – in fact, on some items I was damn surprised – pleasantly of course.

So, being so pleasantly surprised, I decided to give it a try, and purchase clothing online – yes, without seeing them first, without being able to feel the quality of the fabric, and more so, without first trying them on. The Zando guys and girls did such a good job in building my trust that they knew what they were talking about, that I pushed my concerns to one side, and ordered a few items online.

The experience is somewhat interesting – while I am used to walking through the isles, on Zando everything is organised nicely into different sections, and with a couple of quick clicks you are soon browsing through hundreds of images of shirts, shoes, pants, jackets and grooming products. Simply selecting a price or brand option reorganises the pages into a selection more in line with my personal preferences. Then, simply select your size and add to your basket. All in all, very easy.

My selection. A bit of Safari Army, and a bit of Rock 'n Grunge.

My selection. A bit of Safari Army, and a bit of Rock ‘n Grunge.

Then its click and pay. But Zando offers more. So if you are not really wanting to pay just yet, and would rather see if these actually fit and suit you, that’s totally fine with Zando. Just select the option that you plan to pay on delivery, and they will deliver the items to the address you have designated. If you don’t like the item, simply give it back the delivery guy and he’ll take it back. You don’t have to pay for it at all. This option stuns me, as I am sure that they get a tonne of people sending stuff back each day – so I am not sure how profitable this service is, but I suppose that they rely on consumer purchase excitement. If someone if excited to receive a parcel of items that have been longing for, they would be more willing to accept the items, even if they didn’t like it 100%. So, for me, I just paid online and waited for mu package – and in 2 days, the delivery guy popped into my office and delivered my box of stuff – all neatly wrapped in a sturdy box.

Just a couple of clicks, and a few days wait, and my box of stuff arrived safe and sound.

Just a couple of clicks, and a few days wait, and my box of stuff arrived safe and sound.

So why purchase online? Well, the advent of technology has made life far easier, but unfortunately, the time we send at work makes it almost impossible for us to really get to the shopping that really needs to be done. I have always found it extremely strange why South African retailers and retail centers, and more so, South African banks decide to only keep trading hours during our working hours. Seriously? How am I supposed to get what I need and want during a lunch hour? Just stay open until 11:00 like they do in the US and Europe and perhaps the retail spaces will do better than what they are doing now.

Havas Worldwide recently developed a new Prosumer Report which reports on a survey into “Digital and the New Consumer: Emerging Paths to Purchase”. The report explores all aspects of consumer behaviour and online purchasing, but perhaps on of the most insightful results was the statistic explaining the the top reasons why people would shop online rather in-store.

Why people wold rather shop online than in-store according to the Havas Worldwide Prosumer report on Digital and Consumer Purchasing

Why people wold rather shop online than in-store according to the Havas Worldwide Prosumer report on Digital and Consumer Purchasing

All in all, Zando is fantastic. The selection of goods online is not only on extremely varied, but is also on trend, good quality, in most South African relevant sizes, and is extremely good when it comes to cost. The online purchasing experience is simple and enjoyable, however it might not be enough to replace the see and touch experience of a physical store, but the price and excitement of having your goods delivered to your chosen locals might just offset this. Then, and this is possibly one of the best elements of the Zando purchasing experience, is the payment options. I am still blown away that I can go online, order a tonne of stuff, have them delivered to me, and send them all back if I don’t like it. I am sure I would feel guilty if I did that, but part of me applauds Zando for offering such a service, so that I can develop the expectation that everyone should be doing this. Well done Zando, and yes, I will be back to order more, especially in April or May of next year as I get ready for the Rock ‘n Grunge style period of June 2014.

Guys, give it a go, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. visit http://www.zando.co.za/men/