Shop local. Shop independent. I think many of us like to support our local shops by following those statements. Living on the edge of a small town, or some might say, large village – I’m certainly one of those.
Over the years we’ve bought a car (albeit a used one) from a main dealer in town, and now get current vehicles regularly serviced in town. We do our grocery shopping in the two main supermarkets in town. We regularly do our DIY shopping in the local independent DIY store. We get our eyes tested and prescriptions dispensed in town. Pet shop, vets, stationers, jewellers, homeware, charity shop(s), you name it – there was even a clock repairers we used more than once.
So when it comes to buying other items, it’s our default choice to pop (no surprise here)… into town.
Some time ago we needed to purchase something from one of the hair salons in town that stock a particular brand. As luck would have it I was able to get to the high street in advance of their publicised closing time of 5 o’clock. For no obvious reason, the shop door was locked and there were no signs of life within. The shop had inexplicably shut early that day. Now, in days gone by we might have cursed loudly and then planned a return visit. But not now. Now we just shrug, return home and go online. Within 48 hours of clicking ‘buy now’, the item in question was delivered to our home. Answer this question for me, why would we ever try that salon again?
My wife purchased a pair of shoes online that local shops don’t stock. These were duly delivered on a Friday, unfortunately, they’d sent the wrong size. Within a couple of clicks we had requested the correct size, all without leaving the comfort of our home. The wrong-sized shoes went in the post on that same day and the replacement delivered to our door on Monday.
We needed some replacement parts for our vacuum cleaner. Suspecting that only a John Lewis would have those parts in stock and not willing to make the journey to the nearest store, I placed an order online with the manufacturer. Two days later it arrived at our door.
The examples could go on.
Having grown up in the pre-internet age I have to admit I’m still amazed by, not just the speed, but also the price, and the convenience of it all.
I know that shopping online lacks the “theatre”, and it lacks the “shopping experience”. But online shopping has its own experience, it cuts out the frustration of finding a parking space, of slow cashiers, and making a trip to the shop to find it inexplicably closed. Honestly, I’m not sure that traditional retail can compete. When it comes to online vs offline shopping to me there doesn’t seem to be a contest.