Online Shopping - Blessing or Curse?Aug 22, 2022
In the past, the only way a producer, manufacturer or retailer could pass their goods on to a consumer was to have a bricks-and-mortar shop. This meant the producer was limited by the number of consumers within a defined distance from them. Occasionally they would have travellers who would pass their location, then their goods would be spread further afield than usual.
Consumers had the same limitations, they could only purchase in their immediate area. This limited their choices drastically. It also limited the prices! Supply and demand is an entirely separate topic.
Then importation started, I think it began along the Silk Road, a trip I would love to do.
Over a period of time consumers began to buy “exotic” and “imported” products. Demand was usually much higher than supply, pushing prices up on some of these items. They were not widely available.
A whole new branch of retailers soon emerged, the importers. Bringing rare or exotic items to consumers. Consumers in turn began to expect more, more choice, and more range.
Modern Day Shopping
Yesterday I purchased $120 worth of pet care items and I didn’t even leave my house. In fact, I was still wearing my PJs.
Those items were located in different cities all around Australia, and they would have all been manufactured in China (they can say Australian Made all they like – but the reality is China produces so much).
I was able to search for the products I required, size, colour, and fabric type, all while sipping on my cup of tea and wearing my ugg boots.
My purchases will be sent to my door, saving me time and money. No more driving around to 3 different shops, looking for a car park, paying for parking, fighting through crowds of people. Sometimes you can’t even find the product you are after, making all of that lost time and money.
Some may lament the drive towards online shopping, but can you really deny the convenience?
I hate grocery shopping so much I would gladly use an online service for that, unfortunately, my favourite supermarket, Aldi, doesn’t provide an online shopping service. The reason it doesn’t is that it keeps its overheads down so its prices can stay down … I respect that because I am “frugal”.
Shopping of the Future
My mother loves a good psychic story, and so do I.
She told me a story of a lady who claims to see into the future.
This lady believes that we are moving to an age of working from home with minimal “excursions” out into public. This lady claims online shopping will become the norm, with delivery drivers being the main ‘out-of-home' workers.
Most people will work from home and use video calls to conduct meetings. The internet makes it possible for you to have your work hard-wired into your house. Hello Covid! Mind you that sounds like a nightmare to me.
She went on to say only set occupations still leave their homes for work, emergency services, delivery drivers and tradespeople. From memory, the story went that people no longer drove themselves either, as, in her vision, driverless cars would transport people when face-to-face meetings were required.
Maybe 20 years ago this may have been far-fetched. However, over the last 2 years of Covid-19 lockdowns, I am thinking this lady was on to something.
Amazon now has 183 fulfilment centres - I could only find 3 countries they cannot deliver to, Cuba, Iran and North Korea.
Shopify is the independent version of Amazon, giving the traditional bricks-and-mortar shops the ability to go online without going through Amazon.
Then you have Etsy, eBay, Gumtree, supermarket click and collect or delivery services, the list keeps growing.
Online shopping is not only here to stay, but it is growing so fast, that it's going to be the primary way to shop soon.
Does it Tick the Environmentally Friendly Box?
I have just started sourcing products to sell online, given my attitude towards environmental issues, my products are all eco-friendly right down to the packaging.
Just because retailers are moving forward and thinking about the future, I think we still need to demand products from them that will cause no further harm to the environment. I actually believe now that we have the ability to purchase from anywhere in the world, we can be more selective about our purchases.
Request recycled cardboard packaging, request no single-use plastic bags, and request products that come naked or not in plastic containers. Purchase the reusable, the recycled, the biodegradable, and the ethically sourced. Just because we want convenience it doesn’t mean we cannot be a little picky. Suppliers will produce what the consumer demand.
The only issue I see is that buying in this way means you are not buying locally, but honestly if you cancel your travel to and from the shops (x50 other families in your area) and replace it with the environmental cost of delivery to 50 families in your neighbourhood its sounds like a good swap.
I actually think the freight companies and delivery people might be able to do it all more efficiently too. I’ve just moved to a Hybrid car, and the local government has just announced a huge push for EVs.
And.. let's encourage our favourite local shops to sell online too! So you can still support local families.
I think more and more people will sell locally, but online, with a great Shopify account, a retailer could be living in your street or suburb. I think many people forget that Amazon sellers or Shopify stores are actually owned by a small businesses.
We think of Amazon as a giant, however, Amazon is actually just made up of multiple home businesses who use Amazon due to its amazing reach. Any retailer would know, that the more people place your product in front of the more people are able to buy. No retailer would ask for less exposure! It's exactly why I choose to sell on Amazon. See my listing here https://amzn.to/3wn6qiF
Amazon and eBay do just that, place your products in front of millions of people. It’s a retailer’s dream, especially the family business only selling a select number of products.
From what I have seen most of the sellers on eBay are stay-at-home mums trying to supplement the family income? In my mind, I’m helping a family, not a multinational.
I should add that when I have a hundred dollars to spare I will absolutely buy shares in Amazon. Not only is this giant going to keep growing. Anyone following my Barefoot Investor journey would know that the lovely Mr Pape encourages you to have a share portfolio.
So, grab a coffee, tea … grab a wine (it could be after 12 noon in the retailer's location) jump online and see what you actually can buy without even getting out of your PJs.