On my mind today: Learning to shop in a world of remote retail. (inspired by Walmart’s new bid to compete with Amazon Prime, plus by COVID).
It took COVID to get me buying more things online with delivery or curbside pickup, even though I’ve disliked in-person shopping for years – that is, it can be fun to shop with a friend, or to go on a hunt for ideas about new and unique stuff you never realized you needed. But shopping just to supply yourself with basic stuff… every step from parking lot to checkout is fraught with irritation.
But I kept doing in-person shopping because I knew what I was doing. I had years of accumulated sense of where to go to find my desired item in-stock at a competitive price and usable quality. Also had some sense of the politics and ethics of the stores I used, both locally and (for chains) overall.
Online shopping… well, There’s a lot to learn.
- Practical questions about shopping itself:
- Where to get the best deal (including costs like shipping) for various products, including but not limited to household goods, craft/sewing supplies, tools, gifts, etc.
- How to assess quality of an item you can’t pick up and inspect.
- Who has the best layouts for shopping sanely for products. For example, in shopping for clothes, I would like a site to let me select for items available in “tall”. Seems like every site offers a filter for “petite”, but few do for “tall”. Fabric should be filtered by relevant qualities like woven versus knit. And so on.
- Who is reliable as far as delivering when promised, handling returns honorably, etc.
- Financial and information security: How to navigate security for online payments. Safe enough to enter my credit card info? Should I be using a third-party payment arrangement like PayPal, or does that just add another point of risk? How to manage the possibility that one’s address, telephone information might be sold for advertising purposes or worse?
- Ethical and political considerations: How to support the sellers and companies whose values reflect your own? How to find those who treat their employees and suppliers well? What about political contributions, to candidates or causes – how to uncover those details? How to identify the most environmentally responsible approach to buying? What’s the online equivalent of the small, family-owned business?
No advice, here, just questions…