Today, the E-commerce industry as a whole is worth almost $400 billion. Approximately 80% of modern Americans do at least some of their regular shopping online. At the turn of the century, that percentage hovered around just 20%. That means online shopping has experienced a 60% increase since 2000, which isn’t too surprising considering the incredible advances technology has made over the last two decades.

A significant portion of online sales can be traced to women’s fashion—apparel, shoes, accessories, etc. The online lingerie industry serves as a prime example of how technology has changed online shopping throughout the past twenty-plus years, leading to both the decline of corporate giants who once monopolized the lingerie industry and the rise of smaller brands and designers.

Expanding Opportunities for Smaller Brands

Before online shopping gained the popularity and consumer following that it has now, starting a business and developing a brand was not a feat many average people could accomplish. Running a successful business is still a challenge, but the expanding opportunity for non-wealthy entrepreneurs and creatives to start online businesses has revolutionized the online lingerie industry.

Starting a legitimate brick-and-mortar lingerie store requires a significant amount of capital and time. In contrast, creating a website and setting it up as an online store is simple and very cheap. Artists and amateur lingerie designers are able to easily sell their creations through E-commerce websites—like Etsy—that encourage users to sell their own handmade and vintage apparel.

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At one point in time, Victoria’s Secret held a monopoly over the lingerie industry. They had a long-standing reputation and a lot of profit to work with, so it was very difficult for smaller, little-known B&M storefronts to keep up with them. As technology has advanced and online lingerie shopping has become more popular, the market has loosened and made way for smaller brands to develop successful online stores. See examples of some of these smaller online businesses in this guide to alternatives to Victoria’s Secret lingeriefrom HauteFlair.com.

Building Trust with Blogs and Artificial Intelligence

Victoria’s Secret’s website first launched in late 1998, when the number of consumers who shopped online was still relatively low—less than 20%. For several years, Victoria’s Secret continued to reign as the leader of the lingerie industry and existed as one of the only online lingerie stores—or at least one of the only ones that got any attention and were able to make a significant profit. In the two decades since the online VS platform’s initial launch, thousands of lesser-known lingerie brands have found commercial success online.

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Back at the turn of the century, one of the major reasons why consumers who shopped for lingerie online were only willing to buy from Victoria’s Secret’s website is trust—or lack thereof. Victoria’s Secret opened their first store in 1977, and they built trust within a large base of consumers for more than twenty years before launching their online store.

Buying lingerie was—and sometimes still is—intimidating and risky. Since lingerie is so personal, buying pieces without trying them on from a lesser-known, faceless online store with little to no reputation seemed like too big a risk for many early online shoppers to take.

Online lingerie stores—and online stores in general—have since developed ways to build a trusting relationship with hesitant online consumers. Most of these strategies involve advanced modern technology. For example, modern online lingerie stores use blogging to give a face to their brand and offer important and enticing information about the pieces they offer. Also, many online lingerie retailers now utilize advancing artificial intelligence to offer instant customer service Chatbots, so that online customers are able to get any questions they might have answered right away.