Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Shopping Online

When Amazon began to branch out, selling not only books but all kinds of other stuff, I fussed about it. How much was that 800 pound gorilla going to grab? It already seemed unfair for them to compete with the brick-and-mortar book stores, but now they were in competition with lots of other merchants, both online and located in physical facilities.

But I'l admit that I eventually became a Prime member, mainly for the free shipping and orders that showed up on my doorstep in just a day or two. Then one day I realized that I preferred to sit at my computer in air-conditioned comfort and shop, rather than making the rounds at the local mall. I'd reached out to pet the 800 pound gorilla and ended up feeding it.

I still patronize local bookstores, both the Christian ones and those that are secular. When there's something I have to try on (like shoes--that's a real problem for me), I head for the local stores. But there are times when it seems so nice to order online.

How about you? Have you gone over to the dark side? Do you have any ideas for the stores that have to compete with Amazon? I'd like to hear (and I suspect they would, too).

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Elise Griffith said...

We've lived in small towns/rural areas for 20+ years (including Flower Mound in the late 80s-early 90s when there were still ranches everywhere & only one grocery store), so I was among the 1st to shop online when it became available. I've been a Prime member since 2000. For me, it comes down to cost savings. Not only do I have to factor in gasoline, which in coastal CA is the highest in the continental U.S., but shopping online means I can price compare at several sites to get the best deal on most of what I buy.

I think price is key to the appeal of online shopping, and I'm not sure what brick & mortar stores can do to overcome that hurdle. Millions of middle class Americans are at or near the same income level they were in 2008, and many have encountered lower wages. My oldest son started his first post-grad professional job at nearly exactly the same salary his father started with in 1985; obviously the cost of living has risen much, much higher. When disposal income shrinks, shoppers become cautious and savvy to stretch their dollars.

Elise Griffith said...

(continued) As for brick & mortar book stores, e-books have changed the landscape, in my humble opinion. Our nearest B & N is 20-25 minutes away in an area void of free parking. The store itself is 1/2 filled with Starbucks, magazines and a children's section. Another 1/4th of the store is dedicated to gifts, cards, etc. and the remaining space is adult-level fiction and non-fiction, with a very tiny area for "religious" that includes only 2 full book shelves of Christian themed material.

Across the street from B & N is a Christian bookseller that's 1/3 gifts and cards, 1/3 children's books, and the remaining 1/3 dedicated to bibles, adult non-fiction and a small selection of Christian fiction. Meaning there are far more choices (and authors) available online. It makes better financial sense, then, to shop online if you're looking for, say, a new paper book by Richard Mabry M.D. :-) Sorry to be so verbose.

Patricia Bradley said...

I'd reached out to pet the 800 pound gorilla and ended up feeding it. I love it! And I'm afraid that's what I've done as well. I, too, am a Prime member and even order kitty litter. (My poor postman) I've found the same thing that Elise has found, living in a small town, especially about the bookstore.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Elise and Patricia. I'm glad I'm not alone in buying from the entity that
writers used to predict would swallow us whole. I don't know what the answer is,
but as Elisa points out, the savings in gasoline alone mount up when we shop online.

Gail H. said...

When it comes to fighting the crowds, waiting in endless lines, looking for parking places, yes I've gone to the darker side. A few clicks of the keyboard and the world is at your fingertips. No more going from store to store searching for a particular item, losing patience as well as spending precious gasoline.

Richard Mabry said...

Gail, I agree with the points you made.The Big Box stores, of course, have significant online presences for ordering, and--since I can take things back to the local store--I've even ventured out into ordering clothes a few times. I don't know what the family-owned bookstores are going to do to compete.
Thanks for your comment.