I don’t normally post on a Friday. For the most part, I have made Friday and Saturday my days away from posting unless there is a hockey game. As the official media sponsor for the Lockport Express, Niagara’s Watercooler must post on those days they have games. On other weeks, I simply give myself a break on those days. Today, however, while reading the news, I read something that I thought I could write about.
I was on CNN and I saw that JC Penny’s is going to close a whole bunch of stores, along with Macy’s. Penny’s was a big deal when I was a kid. Our family used to visit the store in Medina before it closed. It’s where we used to get our photos taken when we were small. Another place we went to was Sears at Eastern Hills. We’d buy our school clothes, put them on layaway, and then hope they still fit when we picked them up before school.
But this article is not about those memories. This is about the way we shop has changed over the past decade. Dying a dinosaur’s death are the malls that we used to frequent as kids. They came into vogue in the 1960s as the automobile reached its zenith and we drove everywhere. Today, the highways we cruise are virtual -- the information superhighway.
The internet has definitely changed our shopping habits. From the comforts of our own homes, we can shop for almost anything we want, and even things we don’t want. With the simple click of a button, we can have our product in two business days. Gone are the days of waiting 4 to 6 weeks for shipping.
All this is wonderful. I love shopping on the internet. It’s quick. It’s easy. And I can shop whenever the mood strikes without having to deal with all those fools behind the wheel on the roads. I can get whatever I want without speaking to a single human being. Isn’t it wonderful? (Italics added for sarcastic purposes.)
While all that seems great, it has severely hampered the whole concept of impulse buying. Let me give you an example. I love going to the bookstore and looking for the latest and greatest novel. I’ve been doing it for years. One of my favorite parts of visiting the bookstore is coming home with a book that wasn’t even on my radar.
Skimming the shelves near the books that I have intentions of buying, there sometimes (okay, ALL the time) is a book that just jumps out at me. It usually has nothing in common with the original book I was looking at, but it grabs my attention just as easily. Of course, I have to buy it or jot it down so I can see if our local library has it. The same thing happens when I visit a regular store, whether it be movies or a new car wash to try out.
Amazon, the behemoth that controls all our collective buying desires, does give us suggestions as to what else we may be interested in. It is quite good, but it is very limited -- at least in my experience. The things Amazon suggests are very closely related to the original product that I was looking at. I get great suggestions. With the death of the physical store, though, we lose finding a completely new product that would have never have even crossed our minds, or Amazon’s analytics. Eventually, we may get there.
It is a smart business move, if you can, to migrate to a virtual store rather than a brick and mortar store. Your overhead will drop and you will be able to give your customers even better deals. What we lose is human interaction and that buried treasure that you never even expected. That’s why I still hold on and go to the store. Somewhere out there is something I need that I didn’t even know I wanted.
Craig Bacon sometimes is a shopping junkie, to the chagrin of Wendy. By the way, the phrase “too many books” should not ever exist. Not in English. Not in any language.