Online shopping has replaced brick and mortar at our house
My husband has ordered something else! When I went to check the mail, I found a box just small enough to stuff in the mailbox but big enough to pique my interest. What could it be?
I tugged it out, knowing who it would be addressed to, because I hadn’t ordered anything. Sure enough, my husband’s name was on the box.
Yesterday when I got back from a walk, a large box, much too big for the mailbox, was propped beside the back door. It was almost too heavy for me to lift; much heavier than the previous day’s box, or the one before that.
I’ve watched my husband at night with his laptop, preoccupied and serious. What are you doing? I sometimes ask.
The answers range from grading papers (he’s a teacher), to entering grades in the system, to studying for some certification exam he’s about to take. Sometimes he says he’s researching politics or other areas of interests.
He Hates to Shop
He never says, “I’m shopping.” He hates to shop, in real life. He will do anything to avoid a mall or a grocery store or any kind of store.
If he ever retires, he won’t be one of those husbands bumbling along with their wives in the mall. You won’t find him sitting on a mall bench waiting for me to emerge with my purchases.
We won’t be like those little old retired couples that grocery shop together, either. That’s probably a good thing, because they seem to harbor a seething hostility that erupts whenever they’re in the presence of a grocery cart.
One time I saw a stocky, scowling gray-haired woman ram her partner with the grocery cart. He stumbled around, startled, and I thought at first it was an accident. Until she said, “I told you we don’t need any more milk!” The man held a carton of milk in one hand and a package of Oreos in the other. He shuffled off to put the milk back.
I can only conclude that too much togetherness is detrimental to a relationship.
Shopping together never worked for us, anyway. I decide what I want, then go to the nearest store that’s likely to have it. I’m ashamed to say I don’t take time to check for bargains.
My husband, on the other hand, visits every store within a 20-mile radius comparing prices, talking to salespeople, and figuring out who has the best deals. It’s exhausting.
“Just one more store. I want to check one more place,” he says, just when I think he’s on the verge of making a decision.
But he doesn’t shop in stores too often these days, because of the internet and the pandemic. He compares prices, does his research online, then with the click of a button, a delivery is on the way.
I used to get excited when I saw the packages, but not anymore. It’s all boring stuff; things like electronic components or light bulbs. One time he ordered a case of fire extinguishers, and the other day he grinned as he pulled a bungee cord from a box.
“It’s an anchor bungee,” he explained excitedly. “All you do is secure the end of the rope to a stake onshore, and you can pull the boat away from shore.”
A Surging in Online Shopping
But my husband isn’t the only one doing some online shopping these days. The pandemic, while keeping people out of brick and mortar stores, has caused a surge in ordering stuff. Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, up a whopping 44% from the year before.
And there’s early evidence the shopping trend is here to stay. A research paper from McKinsey said trends in China suggest that between three and six percentage points of market share gained by online channels will stick.
The longer the pandemic drags on, the more likely that consumers stick to their new buying habits, and companies that have developed a big online presence are ahead of the game.
Statistics show that men account for 68 percent of online shopping, while women account for 72 percent. The main difference between male and female shoppers, according to Jim Foster, marketing consultant and retail coach, is what men and women shop for.
Men generally shop alone, they seldom compare prices, they don’t care if the item is on sale, and they don’t care about color, Foster said.
But if that’s the case, my husband doesn’t fit the mold. He compares prices across the internet, sometimes for days, before he zeroes in on the best deal. And he cares about color. One time it took him two hours to decide if he wanted a grey, white, or a beige Bimini top for his pontoon boat. He decided on white.
Studies also show that men are less likely to use coupons and more likely to accept a less-than-ideal product.
Not my husband. If there is a coupon out there, he finds it. If merchandise doesn’t meet his quality standards, he ships it back.
Although I’m no longer interested in what he’s ordered, seeing all those boxes arrive has made me want to receive my own boxes. There is a certain excitement, reminiscent of Christmas, when I spot a package at the door, even if I already know what it is because I’m the one who ordered it.
I won’t be ordering bungee cords or fire extinguishers, though. I’m going to check out online clothing, jewelry, books, DVD’s and makeup. I have already signed up for one-click.