One common misconception regarding ecommerce and consumerism is that the online consumer ‘shops’ online to feel instant gratification. This suggests that people shop online, simply for the feeling of immediacy, whilst it may actually have been more convenient, and the product may have been received quicker, if the consumer had physically visited the store.
Whilst the ‘want it now’ culture has undoubtedly descended upon us, we must also be able to recognise the many differing reasons why people shop online; and understand that the vast majority of consumers are savvy enough to comprehend what ecommerce entails.
One suggested reason many people shop online, is the fact that their desired product is not available in a physical store, alternatively, the physical store may not exist in their country. This could include for example boutique items, or specialised items of apparel. There are even physical stores which sell items, as online-only exclusives.
Another reason may be convenience, for example online grocery shopping. The consumer will do their food shop online, to avoid having to traipse through a bustling store with everyone else, at the end of their busy working day.
It could be argued, that it is not so much a case of the consumer purchasing online to feel that they have immediately bought the product from the comfort of their own home; but more simply that it is just easier to schedule their products to be delivered literally on their door-step, compared to allocating time in their busy week-day schedules to physically pay a visit to the supermarket, and/or clothes store.
From personal experience, I am sure others would agree that when shopping online, distraction is more easily avoided, compared to walking around a physical store, where possible FMCG point of sale displays, and other unnecessary items are waved underneath your nose, in a bid to tempt consumers to unwittingly purchase items which they do not need.
Maybe it could be argued that the online consumer, is a savvier-shopper, with a one-track mind, purchasing a set list of items that they need, as opposed to distracting surplus items that they think they want, which they would actually be oblivious to, if they had instead, shopped online. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Another misconception surrounding Ecommerce and shopping online in general, is the idea that once the consumer has clicked ‘buy’, they cannot contain themselves, and proceed to wait distractedly impatient, for what feels like forever, for their order to arrive, because they ‘want it now’.
This may not necessarily be true for everyone. My point being that right at the very end of your virtual shopping trip, there is the option of paying and ultimately selecting your delivery options. You cannot skip this part of online shopping. It can be confidently presumed therefore, that the consumer is always consciously aware of exactly what they have ordered, and exactly when it will arrive. Allowing people to get on with their day-to-day.
Yes, you can pay for super-convenient next day-delivery, or you can pay for the standard 3-5 working days. This particular issue can be a point of contention for logistics providers, with the arising argument that consumers are demanding more and more from ecommerce.
Whilst that may be true, my point is that, such refined delivery options, enable the consumer to always be aware of exactly what they have purchased and when and how their delivery will reach them. This point rings true, for all deliveries, more so for groceries (where perishables are involved). Furthermore, consumers are required to choose their desired, convenient (may I add time and day specific) delivery slot.
In addition to this, alongside consumers knowing their specific delivery slot, delivery drivers and postal services alike, message consumers, to let them know when their orders have been received, and when their products have been dispatched; with some services even calling or texting the consumer to let them know that their delivery is en-route that very day.
It is important to remember that despite the boom of ecommerce, the consumer can still leave the house and still recognises that, if needs be, there are (for now) still physical stores on the high-street which can be used, should they ever find themselves without an internet connection and thus exposed to terribly desperate circumstances, requiring a trip to the local Tesco.
Whilst is can be argued that we are now living in the culture of ‘want it now’ there seems to be some confusion surrounding the idea of online shopping being better and ‘instant’. We need to be able to recognise that the consumer, may instead be shopping online, simply out of necessity, rather than out of the desire for instant gratification.
As ecommerce expands, and with the world at our fingertips, we are all gradually no-longer walking around stores, with time we don’t have, to buy things we do not necessarily need.