Monday, July 18, 2011

Frock Paper Scissors

Frock Paper Scissors is a student magazine that was the result of a fashion journalism subject that I undertook in my final semester at University. Not everyone student's work was published, however the 'Light and Bright' collaboration between Elizabeth and I made the cut.

You can see the rest of the magazine here.



The following was an article that I wrote for the magazine that was not published, but received a high distinction.

ALWAYS OPEN

Shop Blogs - bringing the shop to you

WORDS Bec Fox

BLOGGING IS HARDLY A NEW THING ANYMORE. In fact, to the fashion world, it is old news. Everyone has seen a million fashion blogs and it seems difficult finding inspiration amongst a plethora of mediocre ramblings. Everything has been done, and everyone copies everyone. In addition, anyone can have a blog including all those who spend their lonely nights behind their computer screen typing away their uninspired thoughts that many of us would simply discuss in passing over a morning coffee.

Having said this, there are elements to blogging that are new and interesting with new facets emerging and developing every day, for example, in the area of shop blogs. Shop blogs are fairly self explanatory. They are the store in blog form and can contain images of the stores current stock and new arrivals along with posts that relate to the store in some way.

This notion of shop blogging is interesting because it has added a whole new dimension to the shopping experience. Small fashion boutiques, independently owned, have refrained from advertising in the past primarily due to financial restrictions. Now, however, blogging has given these small businesses the opportunity to reach out to their customers on a personal level and on a global scale. It has given them the voice that the cost of advertising suppressed.

Accessible all around the world, a store blog can be read by someone who may never actually have the opportunity to enter the store. Here is a scenario to illustrate the point in case. A customer in Western Australia sees a dress in a magazine that they love. They look up the stockists on the label’s website only to find that it is stocked in a store in Brisbane. The customer then Googles the store name, subsequently coming across its blog.

From there, they will not only see a range of the store’s product, including the item they are in search of, but also inspirational images, artists, events and so on, all of which tell them a lot about the store. An experience with the shop has been had and the customer has not even set a foot away from their desk.

The Corner Shop in Sydney offers a blog that is up to minute with everything ranging from their new arrivals to special events held at the store, keeping their customers in the loop. For someone who lives in any part of the world other than Sydney, this is fantastic as it gives one the opportunity to experience the unique store without needing to buy a plane ticket or even leave the house.

Bam and Juju is another example. Being a local Brisbane store means most Frock readers would probably have paid it a visit at some point. However, the blog provides a unique and alternate experience. Not only does it feature recommended artists, films and music but also images of new arrivals and even staff profiles.

Bam and Juju manager Megan Beattie states that “some customers come into the store and express their concern about not getting the chance to come in regularly enough and therefore missing out on clothes they had been waiting on. Being a small boutique we order minimal size runs so they often do miss out.” She adds that “when I receive new deliveries, I put them straight on the blog and for a customer to have access to that means that they will know straight away when something new has come in and can make a trip to the store knowing they will leave with something great.”

She also states that the blog is great for people who have moved interstate and left their favourite store behind, or for those who simply have a passion for a certain label, but no stockists in the city they live. “We have a customer in Sydney who doesn’t live close to any shops that stock her favourite label, so when items from said label arrives, she sees it on the blog, calls us with what she wants from the collection and we send it down to her.”

Technology and globalisation is pushing boundaries particularly in the already lightening fast fashion industry and blogging is not only a way for stores to get themselves out there but it is a way to speak to their customers in an intellectual and more meaningful way. Meg suggests it is the “unspoken conversation with the store staff and if it’s a good one they are sure to return.”

Natalie Denning is a leader in the Brisbane fashion scene owning seven boutiques, all of which have their own fashion blogs. When asked what the best thing about shop blogs were, Natalie suggests that, “you can interact in a more in-depth way to your customer- not only can you show product quickly and cost effectively, you can communicate the store beliefs, personality, feelings, and inspirations in a creative yet subliminal way.”

Natalie’s store Fallow in Fortitude Valley has always been a store that pushes the fashion boundaries. It is ahead of the minute in terms of layout, furnishings and stock placing it right up there with the best in Brisbane fashion, and their blog is no different. Recently, the store launched a new blog featuring just the jewellery and accessories from the store. Now, one shop has two blogs. Natalie says that the reason for the second blog was “for more direct marketing to our jewellery clients who wish to purchase (we don't have an online store yet), and we never seem to run out of things to blog on the original blog so I guess to be more focused,” adding that “we may develop more Fallow blogs in the future.”

Essentially, shop blogs have revolutionised the relationship between customer and shop. They provide stores with the opportunity to promote themselves in a way that has never before been possible and customers with the opportunity to get to know the store and the stock without needing to actually go anywhere.

On one hand, nothing will ever beat setting foot in a store that offers atmosphere tailored to the customer’s wants. Music, smell, customer service and the thrills that the five senses provide are tangible elements of the shopping experience that cannot be beat. However, for those with busy schedules, inconvenient circumstances or simply late night shopping addictions, blogs are the perfect outlet.

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