Oh, how e-commerce has blossomed!

I knew within my first few weeks of freshman year at the University of Connecticut – a small town of its own with little more than the campus, cows and basketball fans – that I would have to spend at least one semester in a foreign city. As a writer and theater enthusiast – London was the natural choice. I remember how scary and exciting it was to venture abroad during that semester away in college. While my first few weeks were disorienting and terrifying (I wasn’t used to life in a big city, alone no less) it wasn’t long before I began to call a few places mine as they either represented a new retreat or reminded me of comfortable places back home.

Oddly enough, one of those places was the notably adolescent (undoubtedly geared for an audience younger than I was, even then) but uniquely familiar Accessorize chain. Its supply of glittery necklaces, frilly scarves and flashy handbags reminded me of Claire’s back home – a place I would frequent in high school during mall outings with friends.

London didn’t have malls. At least not the kind I was used to. So seeing this little store with its affordable – be they mildly disposable – baubles on one of the high-end streets of a shopping district I couldn’t afford was a retail oasis.

What does any of this have to do with e-commerce, you ask? The chain has just announced the launch of an online retail site and will begin selling said accessories online. New Media Age reported the story here, and when I saw the alert, my heart softened a bit. How e-commerce has grown! Stores I would never have thought to sell online are doing just that and I wish them nothing but the best, as the memories they bring back conjure smiles.

Some might say that an e-commerce branch for certain brands is blasphemy: “How can you sell your product online when the quaint, in-store experience is what it’s all about!?” But in this age, that argument is waining.

What stores have surprised you with their online arms? Should anyone stay out of e-commerce altogether or do we all need to get with it – get online biz going?