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Online shopping snags

Feb 13 2013 07:20 Adriaan Bester
Laptop

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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IF I stand on tiptoe on my tiny balcony, I can see the outline of the nearest grocery store. You know, the one that is Inspired By Me (or You).

Yet not even the most advanced clicks of my patient mouse were able to convince them this week that their shop is within delivery distance to me. My desire to shop online, instead of sacrificing some downtime at the store in sunlit hours, faded with every error message the website generated.

I aim to simplify, digitise and cut some corners of the schedule that eats into my precious time. Shopping - for low GI bread and underarm roll-on anyway - is not high on my list of life’s pleasures.

Despite my aversion, I am somewhat mesmerised by the discounts and fitness benefits offered by insurance companies. I am therefore not ready to forgo all modern trappings.

If my love/hate situation as regards my shopping pattern is unique, I am an unapologetic and confident modern consumer. Advanced marketing courses are available (online and elsewhere) to guide retailers through my idealistic expectations.

My search for time has entered the territory best conquered by mothers: multitasking. How they manage to fit shopping into their packed schedules is a secret as closely guarded as a master baker's key melktert ingredient.

Has shopping online (for food and everyday items) made your life any better yet? Do you buy clothing this way too? And how about buying a bicycle without trying it out – or at least kicking the wheel first?

I know I’m a bit behind in adopting the habits of modern convenience. Yet I am confident that a portion of the generation that is spilling into the mobile internet market - from their chat lines and into the chambers of consumer clicking - will grow to expect a whole different shopping experience.

Never will they be caught tapping their foot to an embarrassingly familiar tune of the 1990s, while standing in line to ask the manager to replace the low fat yoghurt for a fat free one.

If techies had their way, the new wave of consumers would have their cake and eat it, clicking their boredom away, dodging the queues that eat into our daily lives, and doing so to the beat of their own soundtrack.

Until then, and not for lack of trying, I am faced with the broken promises of a giant retail store whose multi-million rand information technology platform cannot calculate the two-and-a-half kilometers between my kitchen and their closest outlet.

The grocer’s support services team suggested an alternative, which more or less resembles writing a weekly letter to them with the items I want to buy. This is to be followed by a complicated chain of telephone calls from the store manager to arrange payment and delivery.

This option felt vaguely similar to the village life of my toddler years. I declined it. Instead, I hurried my mouse to the store that promises a Difference, sacrificed my search for coupons and discounts, and settled on an uncomplicated free range of options.

Long live the freedom of consumer choice. Long live the wobbly trolley and the bad music selection on scratchy public announcement systems. But for now, I have propelled into the slick world of click and pay.

 - Fin24

* Adriaan now avoids busy store managers by relaying his online shopping experience on Twitter as @aiBester. Views expressed are his own.
 

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adriaan bester  |  online shopping
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