Monday, November 19, 2018

Online $pending $eason is Here Again

Online shopping is booming, and has only just begun its rise.  At around $130 billion in annual sales, it’s still only about 10% of total retail spending (source: FRED).  Somewhere around 40% of the buying public does so online several times a month, and over 80% of them are quite happy with the experience.  My own family prefers shopping online, although they also say they like to support local stores.  Not entirely sure how that works. 

This leaves me in the minority.  I shop online from time to time, mostly for ebooks, but occasionally for other things.  For instance, I recently bought a pair of slacks and a new iPad online.  Was I happy with the experience?  No!  

All I wanted was a pair of khakis.  How difficult is that?  Apparently only old guys like me buy them because there are none for sale locally.  As of now, I’m waiting for pair number three to arrive via UPS.  Maybe they’ll be the right ones this time.  Probably not. 

In days of yore I would have wandered into the store, looked around, found the right pair, paid and left.  Total time – maybe twenty minutes.  Now the weeks roll by as I wait for the next box to come.

I like to see, touch and try products I’m thinking about buying.  I want to read labels, check alternatives, ask a few questions of a helpful sales person.  I like the tactile human experience.  Quaint isn’t it?  Are there any helpful sales persons?

It may seem old fashioned, but I needed (wanted?) a new iPad.  Every molecule in my body screamed for driving to the nearest Apple store to look them over, mess with a few, talk to a genius, and hand over the plastic money.  Shoot, I might even have done it with Apple Pay.  The nearest Apple store is 200 miles away, so I bought it online.  You’d think I’d be satisfied.  Look at all the money I saved not driving 400 miles round trip plus hotel and food.  But it seemed so –– sanitary.

Well, it’s that time of year again.  “Tis the $eason to be $pending; tra la la, la la, la la la la.”  Did I get enough las in there?  The mail box is stuffed with catalogues from vendors I’ve never heard of, each begging me to order online.  We can $plurge it all over the internet, and never have to worry about choosing between Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas when paying at the cash register.

I’ll get used to it.



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