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Internet v shop visit

A debate raging over the sports pages of the Rust is the relative  benefits of attending  a sporting event or watching it at home. The same factors of convenience v social contact apply to the issue of Internet or personal shop visiting. I was asked to participate in a survey and rather than base it too much on theorising I decided to analyse my shopping trends and preferences over the last 7 days which I will summarise here.

I bought theatre tickets from the box office. This dates back to what I consider to be an internet scam. A few years ago I bought tickets for the Wyndhams Theatre online from a site purporting to use the name Wyndham Theatre . I naturally thought this was their box office online. It was no such thing but a crafty acquisition of the domain name and a ruse to add a mighty charge. The assistant who chatted about the play was helpful but had difficulty with the booking system, asking his colleague who was serving another queue to help. The operation took 20 minutes when I had estimated 5.

I then went to one of my favourite shops The White Company. This is essentially a woman’s shop favoured by rich mums. It’s great success story as the business turns over £160m a year. The service is exceptional right down to the packing, pretty bags with bows and scented paper. It’s a delightful  shop where, judging by the reaction of the assistants, they appreciate my custom. One up to personalised shopping.

My beloved jade green cashmere sweater from M &i S  was attacked by moths. I went online to see if there was a replacement. There was in colour but not in cashmere. This was delivered promptly to my nearest store. It was a painless shopping experience. However a  navy blue sweater ordered online from John Lewis was not in stock. No payment appears to be taken but why advertise an item  if you don’t have it?  1-1.

I needed some some new shutter blinds. John Lewis would always be my first port of call. However how could they measure up online?  I went to a local shop as equally I try to patronise the local trader. The assistant was helpful and convinced me wood freshens and warms the home better. The measurer attended yesterday and again with swatches we evaluated the various colours and textures deciding on maple wood. 2-1 to the personalised shop.

My conclusion is that it’s generational thing. Young people who have grown up with the internet and know no other, are not overly concerned by online breaches of security on credit card details, and do not have the time nor inclination for shopping expeditions are more at ease. Older consumers are worried about giving their bank details, like the personal experience, want to view and  try on purchases. Amazon have revolutionised delivery with a one hour window but Parcelforce still only offer the day, very tiresome for those who are obliged to wait in for them. Legislation coming into force today in particular the 30 day mandatory refund levels the playing field which once was more digitally favourable. Perhaps it should not be an either/or but the two modes exist in tandem. However of one thing I am more certain. The digital purchase is here to stay and shops have to match their service to stay in business.

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About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts