“Women now drive the world economy’ — so started a paper once published in the Harvard Business Review (HBS) — and rightfully so. With their purchasing power and influence, women drive an estimated 70-80% of consumer spending. Staggering, isn’t it?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the greatest amounts are spent by women in two groups: Age 35-44, and Age 45-54.
Of course, online shopping preferences always largely depend on the economic class of the woman shopper. For our below compilation, we have interviewed several upper middle class woman. The reasoning behind such targeting was simple: it is this economic group that controls roughly half of total income in the USA.
One final note for the preface: the above-quoted HBS study revealed that women are especially heavily focused on (a) shopping for apparel (which includes “accessories and shoes”), and (b) “women make the decision in the purchases of 94% of home furnishings” [bold font added by us].
In no particular “ranking” order, other than alphabetic and topical (starting from apparel-focused online stores, and finishing with those into furniture and decor), we are pleased to bring you our list of the top ten best online stores as selected by the interviewed middle class women shoppers.
- Bloomingdale’s — This fashion retailer’s history dates back to 1872 when they opened their first New York store featuring “a wide variety of European fashions.” Fast-forward to present times and they are still going strong, focusing on making multiple prominent fashion brands available to the consumer. Their online store has a 365 days return policy, free return shipping, and they also offer a 10% off coupon when you sign up for their email newsletter.
- Bogner — Originally set up as “Willy-Bogner-Skivertrieb” by a German Nordic skier, Willy Bogner Sr, this is now a prominent clothing brand. They now focus not only on sports and ski wear but also on numerous fashion categories (from knits to jeans, and from dresses to accessories). Free returns (on online orders) are worth underscoring here.
- Brooks Brothers — This is America’s oldest clothing retailer which opened its first store way back in 1818. Much has changed since then, but this brand “remains committed to its founder’s vision, dealing with clothing and accessories that are expertly crafted to our own exacting standards using the finest imported fabrics” (as they themselves put it). They cater to all genders, ages, and demographics; always running a clearance section and supporting free standard shipping on orders over a certain amount
- Nordstrom — For more than 100 years, Nordstrom has retained its status as “a leading fashion specialty retailer offering compelling clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children.” Besides hundreds of physical stores across the U.S. and Candada, they have a good online shop as well. Free Shipping and Free Returns can’t be beat, and they do support both.
- Ralph Lauren — Another iconic brand started in New York that caters to everyone from babies to adults, and whose collections range from affordable to luxury. Back in 1967 they started exclusively with men’s ties; while two year’s later they sold their men’s line exclusively at the Manhattan Bloomingdale’s – at their online in-store shop. Their website was launched in 2000 as polo.com and relaunched a ralphlauren.com in 2007. Now, 10 years later, it is a go-to place for many middle class online shoppers.
- Stuart Weitzman — This company, acquired by Coach (another luxury brand favored by the middle class) in early 2015, is a high-end shoemaker. Our interviewees applauded their footwear for three specific characteristics: quality, beauty, and comfort. Their online shop offers free ground shipping within all states of the USA, supporting also international shoppers and always aiming to top-notch customer service.
- Tory Burch — As a number of other brands on our list, this one is a truly American brand. They operate in a number of verticals, designing and selling shoes, handbags, accessories, watches, as well as home and beauty items. Their online shop offers Free Shipping, Free Returns, and Free Gift Packaging.
- Zappos — Long gone are the days when Zappos was only about shoes. Today, they are so much more; and besides an excellent selection of footwear, they also sell bags & handbags, clothing, accessories, jewelry & watches, and even sunglasses! Their Free Shipping & Free Returns makes it a no-brainer why so many customers are loyal to this online store.
- Ballard Designs — This is a home furnishing brand (which belongs to the HSN’s family of brands) that operates multiple brick-and-mortar shops, as well as an online storefront. Ballard Designs characterizes their style as “a unique curation of all periods and provenance with a distinctive European influence.” Customization of finishes and fabric is available for most items, and all products are also guaranteed from defects for a full year from the date of shipment.
- Wayfair — They offer “one of the world’s largest online selections of furniture, home furnishings, décor and goods.” They are huge! We’re talking millions of products from 10,000+ suppliers. Besides the main brand (Wayfair itself), they also own a number of other home-focused brands, offering “a zillion things home,” as they brand themselves.
If you are reading these lines as a middle class online shopper yourself (regardless of gender), we would appreciate you sparing a couple minutes to comment on this selection using the respective area under the post. After all, we want this post to be of help to everyone (including other online shoppers, like yourself).