Viewing entries posted in March 2015

Internet Shopping

Posted by Sharon Eason on 18 March 2015 | 0 Comments

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People Need People

Yesterday, after a drive to a shopping outlet just up the motorway, I discovered that the clothing shop had closed down and that I now have to order via the Internet.  Well, excuse me, but I want to see what I am buying, feel the material, try on perhaps two different sizes or shapes and colours, and at times get an opinion from the staff.

How does that work online?  Can you imagine the nightmare of firstly ordering one of each colour, because, let's face it, the colour on screen is never the same as the colour of the garment in real life, then duplicating the order in the second size? You know you are only going to buy one garment, if any, but how many would you have to pay for?  And then there is the cost of post and packing which on such a large order could be considerable.How difficult it is to return the whole order - or is that the underlying catch?  Once you have something at home, are you really going to send it back to the shop?

So one huge box arrives by courier - usually when you are out.  You have to unpack the box, carefully saving all the packaging for the return parcel, check the quality and colour and then try for size, make a decision on how many are going back to the store, contact a courier, repack and sort out the paperwork.  Oh please, let me go from shop to shop, browse through the items on offer and try only those that take my eye - usually not the one I first saw, but something lurking on a rail inside.  What better excuse for a stop in a local cafe for coffee and cake???

So who is really driving the current trend? Could it be that these large chains are able to save on the costs of premises and people if they keep all their stock in one large warehouse - or better still order from the factory for direct despatch.  Major reductions in rent, rates, power, wages and salaries are no doubt tempting, but they are destroying our high streets and our need for basic human interaction which cannot be replaced by a screen, mouse and keyboard.

I confess that I find the internet shops very useful to locate where specific items may be available and compare prices, but then human contact is vital.  I need to see the item, check quality and colour then I buy from the people who offer me excellent customer service.  By that I mean the people who know about the product they are selling and are able to advise on its use and care, who talk to me and take an interest in what I really need and help me to find exactly the right item - be it clothes, furniture or food.

The option I really canot understand is why anyone would want to allow a complete stranger in a supermarket to select their fresh food for them.  OK, I can see an advantage to having the branded boxes, bottles and jars delivered to the door. You can't make much of a mistake locating a bottle of bleach or a box of biscuits, but I certainly would not trust anyone else to select fruit, vegetables, meat or fish on my behalf.  Actually, I don't buy those items from a supermarket - the independent has better quality and far better customer service.

So, are we seeing a golden opportunity for the independent shops to make a real comeback?  The public will pay a small premium for personal service, good quality and that invaluable human contact..  Wherever you roam this summer, seek out the independent and get a flavour of the regional specialities, whether in food, clothing or regional specialities.

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