Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why I Shop Online

I'll shop this way any day

I love to shop with friends, but I shop alone. The same can be said of late for shopping in stores: I love shopping, but I shop at home.

USA Today recently published a box of statistics titled "Why Americans Shop Online Vs. in Stores". The results:
Easy to comparison shop  47%
Access to far-away stores  47%
More convenient  42%
Items often cheaper online  41%

Agree. Agree. Agree. Agree.

I love nothing more than strolling through a shopping emporium— be it mall, souk or big box store. What I'm not loving these days is when I am actually looking for something. What I want is too often not there, or too much of what I don't want is all over the place. Despite the fact that it seems I am always shopping, I never set out without a need in mind. That isn't hard; I have a needy mind.

Back in the day, store window displays, if there were any, were used to show customers just how much was inside, to entice them with an abundance of offerings. It was hammers next to bonnets next to reams of foolscap. Harry Selfridge (of the famous London store but working at Marshall Field at the time) may have been the first to view store windows as a way to lure the customer with anticipation. His displays were evocative, constrained and left a lot up to the consumer's imagination. She was able to imagine herself wearing that beautiful fur and sitting in that roadster.

I'll have what she's having

Once inside, the better the store, the more goods were sequestered away. That required the assistance of a salesperson, usually wearing gloves, to bring out whatever it was you wished to view (touching discouraged). Harry Selfridge changed that too. Our stores today are overloaded with stuff for you to play with and trip over. Display windows continue to reel us in, but once inside most stores are a jumble sale from hell.

Yes, it's hard to "browse" through Amazon (although they are making that easier), but it's incredibly frustrating to visit an actual bookstore and find the book I just read about is not in stock. Perfume that's been around a while but is not the latest by a teeny bopper "designer"? Over-the-rim soap dish for my old fashioned but oh-so-chic claw foot bathtub? More than 3 pairs of size medium running socks? The comfortable flats I wore all last summer but in another color for fall??? I wouldn't even know where to look for the soap dish and refuse to run all over town for the socks.

My husband needs another pair of black cargo shorts. He wears them every day because WE LIVE IN TEXAS. The better stores? Replaced by fleece-lined sweats. So I suggested Walmart. Surely they must have everything, right? We were told they don't carry shorts either because it's winter.

You can add these to the list of reasons to shop online:
You don't have to worry about iffy driving conditions, braving the crowds or finding a parking place. In fact, every fender bender I've encountered over the years happened in a store parking lot or mall garage.
You can still find products deemed old or in too small supply or too new/popular. Don't bother looking for it; I bought up every jar of Neutrogena Visibly Firm face cream.
It's fun to get packages! Often it arrives before I could get around to fetch it dans le magasin.

There are, of course, downsides to shopping online: 
I like to touch and feel and learned to suffer trying on as a matter of practicality. Thank goodness for user reviews which have saved me from cheap plastic whatcha-ma-call-its and items running big or small. 
The cost of shipping can be prohibitive. I've labored long and loudly that shipping and returns should always be free with the cost factored seamlessly into the price. 
There is no thrill of discovery. As in finding something you weren't looking for. No mistakes either, as in buying something you didn't need just because it was on sale.

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