Here’s the truth: I use my iPhone for texting far more often than for making calls. The fact that I generally prefer to communicate via written words rather than spoken ones (cut me some slack, I’m a writer!) irritates my family members to no end—and when it comes to shopping, it’s part of the reason why I generally prefer to do my purchasing without the help of a store associate. Whenever a professional becomes personally invested in my shopping search, I often feel obligated to buy something just to thank her for her trouble, even if I’m not really sold on the item—a bad habit that’s especially bad for my credit card. Simply put, using a personal shopper while perusing a brick-and-mortar store can be time-consuming, frustrating—and yes, awkward.
But thanks to the new app PS Dept., all that’s about to change. Cofounded by Michelle Goad, who cut her teeth working at brands like Marc Jacobs and Barneys New York, it’s the first iPhone service to deliver a high-end personal shopping experience to the mobile consumer. As of its official launch earlier this week, PS Dept.’s list of retail partners included Stella McCartney, Opening Ceremony, Derek Lam, Theory and the aforementioned Barneys—with more to come, no doubt.
So how does it work? After downloading the app (it’s free!), start by following your favorite stores from PS Dept.’s list. In-store experts from each are constantly snapping and uploading pics of their favorite new arrivals, which might be enough to satisfy your spending urge. But say you’re itching to buy something slightly more specific, like a new winter coat. Simply text a personal shopper from any retailer on PS Dept.’s list, and they’ll do the searching for you and send you photos of available options (often shot on an actual person instead of a model, hurray!). If you love what they show you, you can purchase it seamlessly via text (the app stores your credit card info). And if you don’t, there’s no uncomfortable face-to-face "Um, I think I’m gonna wait on it…" moment. To sweeten the deal, every participating store offers free shipping and returns, along with same-day messenger service if you live in Manhattan.
So, could shopping via text message be the next frontier of e-commerce? We’re sold. Try PS Dept. for yourself here.