Shopping And The Internet

The internet will make shopping quicker and easier, that’s what some of us thought. It would save time because we could sit at our computers and browse the wares of the world, then a courier would deliver everything to the door.

All of that came true, but it wasn’t time spent shopping that was saved, it was travel.


There are generally two shopping styles (okay, there are hundreds, but I’m generalising): go to the first store you see that sells the type of product you want and buy it; go to every store that sells the type of product you want, compare them all and then chose on some combination of price and quality.

Now you would think that if you shopped online the same way you shopped when on the high street, it would be quicker and if you go for the former of the two styles noted above there is a slight saving on time, but it’s not a lot because you weren’t spending hours on shopping trips anyway.

With the second style the similarities become more obvious. When online, rather than walking between all the stores you will spend time searching different web pages for the item you want. That is certainly quicker, but if you want to do the job properly then you’ll be reading reviews, checking the opinions of previous buyers and looking for the warning signs that help you avoid internet companies who are never going to deliver what you have paid for.

All that reading takes time. There’s no travelling, but the hours spent on the web pages of each shop is just as much as that spent browsing the racks of clothes. In some cases internet buying can take longer because the choices are more and therefore there’s additional research to be done.

The only thing we’re now missing from internet shopping trips is the companionship and the exercise. To solve this I’m proposing treadmills and video conferencing. That way you can get out the laptop, go on a trip to the mall, catch up on the gossip and have sore feet by then end of it. And if you think internet shopping helps you avoid the stress of the sales, try buying something when the web site for a store keeps crashing due to heavy usage; you won’t get injured in the crush but you’ll need to apologise to your other half about the argument you had.