I remember that the skuttlebutt on Amway/Quixtar discussions was that online Retailing was today what Catalogs were before the Internet: Something for people who know what they want, what they want to give, or know they can’t find what’s in the store. If you can get it immediately, there’s no reason to wait. Chances are, you could get it cheaper in the stores as well.
So went net wisdom. I, however, always added the caveat that the one thing Brick and Mortar stores had to concern themselves with was sales. Therefore, it was possible that Brick and Mortar stores could reduce their stock, forcing those of us who didn’t fit their profile into looking onto the Internet. (And something I didn’t think up at the time: If they could make us buy at their e-store instead of their storefront, so much the better for them as they didn’t have to stock as much to serve the same market).
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Looks like that caveat may prove itself useful. As the linked story above notes, people get a better experience from shopping online than in the stores themselves. Aggregate satisfaction has improved three points over five years for online shopping, while Bricks and Mortar stores have dropped a half-point.Brick and Mortar stores still hold a 97.5%/2.5% advantage over online stores, but the online place is growing MUCH faster.
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A simple equation, really. When you buy online, you know that when you can’t find something, it’s not there. With Bricks-and-Mortar shopping, when you can’t find an item it means the store chose not to stock it, which means it don’t want to serve you.
Case in point: a recent visit to a store in Michigan City. I tried out some stuff, but what I was able to find that approximated me didn’t quite fit, and little else was there for me to find. I left the place disappointed.
Of course, here’s where the place will end up very happy: what I had wasn’t cash, but a refund slip. I’ll have to spend the money at their company anyway, so I’m going to go online to try to find what I want or need. If I don’t find anything, I may end up having to buy gifts for people with it. 😦
So what happens? The company gets to ship stuff instead of having to have its stock in various stores. I have to spend money getting the stuff shipped to me or, worse yet, maybe making a gift of something that was meant to be MY gift.
Not a happy prospect, and something I’d like to avoid in the future, if possible.