Modern Shopping

Gone are the days of depending upon finding what you want by visiting one store afer another. The modern shopping mode is far less contingent upon either travel or luck and more dependent upon on-line research.  And in my limited experience with this new mode of shopping the results are not only impressive but in most instances preferable.  I have for example been able to locate clothing of the precise style and measurements required.  We have also found a modest storage case (which required assembly) that fit the bill perfectly (and it was assembled at the store and subsequently delivered to the front door of our residence). We’ve also ordered hardware, pharmaceuticals and cofffee on-line. Each of the orders arrived promptly. The latest delivery is a rebounder (mini trampoline) made in USA. It is a product which hasn’t any local agent so its discovery would otherwise have been impossible.

It has been a long time since I have frequented either a mall or an outlet store.  Not unexpectedly the people who visit these retailers are predominantly young.  For one thing they have to be able to walk a considerable distance, both from the parking lot and then about the real estate. Meanwhile modern apartment buildings are equipped with Parcel Rooms into which the delivery may be placed simply upon the courier calling the mobile number of the customer (who may not even be at home) and who then opens the Parcel Room door remotely.

The real estate constitutes an important element of many large corporations.  Those primary businesses derive both income (rent) and capital gain from their investment. I recall about fifty years ago that it was sous extendu that the best delis were in the shopping malls where people regularly shopped and congregated for quick and casual dining. In the modern shopping mall it is nothing to see a parade of food counters displaying the most exotic edibles from around the globe. The investors are clearly intent upon making the shopping malls attractive to both the retailers and their customers by every means possible; but I cannot but assume that the statistics of frequency have dropped. I understand that the malls have in some cases become resorts of youth for fraternity and sorority and in marginal instances for nefarious purposes (theft, drug dealing and lascivious pursuits) although I believe the security surveillance is ample. The percolation of on-line retailing without brick and mortar access is no doubt a piranha for the real estate investors.

For some the modern shopping method presents a risk of spontaneity.  Given the ability of rapid choice and payment, the modern shopping spree may be a hazard. The retailers have balanced this possibility by offering broad refund capability (which in turn engenders more zealous shopping). Yesterday we overheard an unfortunate tale by a local retailer who advised that someone had ordered an item on-line from what they thought was the local retailer but it turned out to have been a scammer posing as the local retailer.  The scammer collected payment from the shopper’s on-line credit card payment but the item was never delivered. This is not in my experience a usual account and it makes me question the particulars.

One of my first on-line shopping ventures was the purchase of a wrist watch.  Because I was nervous about ordering a product from a retailer which existed in cyberspace only, I called the retailer and suggested I would be more comfortable ordering the watch directly through the retailer with whose clerk I was speaking. The clerk unabashedly advised that he would take my order and then proceeded to enter the details on-line in the same manner as if I were doing so myself.  It was evident that he too had no more connection with the source of the product than I.

Though it is a broad extension of modern shopping, I believe it represents yet one more example of the diminished socialization of people. Incrementally we appear to be distancing ourselves from one another.  Lately my partner was in search of information on-line.  He used the “Chat” feature available.  When the information forthcoming was insufficient, my partner asked, “Are you a real person or AI?” to which the reponse was, “Do you want to be connected to a live agent?” If nothing else this tale accentuates the need to adapt to modern shopping by fully understanding the complexities of the internet. Certainly there will be those who insist upon doing everything in person. But the trend is clear. Some retailers, admitting the inevitable, have removed themselves to niche markets where they predict people will prefer to continue to shop in person.  But for many others the new choice is to order groceries on-line and to have them delivered to your door.