For the past few years, the media has been chronicling the fall of the in-store shopping experience. It never really resonated with me. Aside from everyday needs like groceries and toilet paper, I do a lot of shopping online, usually because what I need either can’t be found in the store, or are significantly more expensive there. Things like textbooks for school and electronics are much more affordable online. For instance, none of the stores near me had an HP laptop with the storage and processor speed I needed for under $600. I found exactly what I wanted on Amazon for about $400. A two day wait was more than worth it to save that much money!
I also shop online out of necessity. First of all, I have big feet. I can buy sneakers in store, because I have no shame in shopping the men’s section (there’s almost always a confused looking dude who checks to make sure he didn’t accidentally wander into the wrong section, LOL!). But there’s not a single shoe store within 30 miles of where I live has a decent selection of size 11 or 11W women’s dress shoes EXCEPT for Payless, whose shoes may as well be made out of cardboard*. I’m also plus size (on the smaller side of plus, admittedly, but just big enough that I can’t just walk into any store and find something that fits). Most brands have an abysmal in-store plus size selection, so if I don’t want to wear
a) suits made entirely of stretch fabric;
b) dresses that make me look like a church deaconess;
c) Mom jeans with an elastic waistband; or
d) oversized floral polyester blouses that shouldn’t be exposed to open flame
then I have no choice but to shop online. Walmart can get you through in a pinch, but no white collar worker who can afford to buy better would choose to craft their professional wardrobe out of Faded Glory and House of Dereon separates. On the other end of the scale, Macy’s overcharges for plus clothes that look like they belong in Walmart. Nordstrom and Dillards are expensive, and sell more dresses and cocktail outfits than everyday basics.
Anyway, I finally had occasion to shop in store. I got a Visa gift card for Christmas, and I hate using those online because if you find something that’s more than the card value, you can’t split payments. I was looking for two things: an alarm clock with FM radio and an aux cord for my iPod, and one of those handheld massagers**. Both of these items were at Bed, Bath and Beyond. However, I wasn’t prepared to spend $50 on a clock, and the only massager available was a $250 chair cushion. The clock was $20 cheaper on Amazon, as well as a host of affordable massagers, but I felt like both of these items were too mundane to justify waiting on shipping. Surely I could find a good deal at a different store! So off I went.
Target was a bust on the clock- there was only one clock that met my specifications, and it was a super fancy $80 model. I couldn’t even find the clocks at Walmart (they weren’t in electronics or home office) and I was so annoyed by that point that I didn’t bother to ask an associate. F*ck it, I’ll buy a clock online. I suppose it’s something of an anachronism by now. The irritating part was that both of their websites claimed to have several massagers available in store. I even had the option to order online and pick up in store the same day. But THE WEBSITE WOULD NOT TELL ME WHICH AISLE THE PRODUCT WAS ON. The all caps were necessary because it was stupid. What is the point of going to the store to buy something if you can’t look at it and see if you even want it first? If I was willing to buy something sight unseen, I’d just have gone to Amazon.
At any rate, all of this integration of e-commerce and physical stores means nothing if you can’t find the product. Sure, I could have hunted down a sales associate*** to ask for help, but if I can see the inventory levels online there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find out which section a product is in as well.
Whatever. Guess I’ll just buy it on Amazon.
UPDATE: After blogging this, I went to CVS to buy shampoo. Before leaving the house I checked the website and saw there were massagers at my local store. They were easy to locate, and the model I bought was listed for the same price as it was on Amazon. Plus, I had a $2 off coupon and $5 ExtraBucks rewards from the loyalty program. CVS is out here winning!
*Not gonna lie, those cheap a** shoes got me through childhood, college and law school. But the first thing I did when I started working full time was buy a $100 pair of name brand shoes. Once you’ve had arch support, there’s no going back.
**Not for the bedroom, y’all. For my neck and shoulder.
***LOLOLOL as if one would even be available? Or even have the answer? I’ve worked retail, I know what it it is.
3 thoughts on “Can’t Shop, Won’t Shop”
I can relate to this 100%. Over the years I find shopping in store to be disappointing. High prices, crowds, and terrible selection are the main reasons I rarely go in store for anything other than groceries and household supplies.
I think what physical retailers depended to much on thinking that people wouldn’t shop online because we like instant gratification. Now they’re struggling to catch up to Amazon.
They are definitely struggling. The Macy’s at my local mall is closing, and given that they only dedicate half a corner of the store to plus size, it’s not just because of us! You’d think with all the data available that store selection would change to meet demand. People like novelty and variety and the internet has made it so that you don’t have to settle for wearing fashion from three years ago. But until some of these Baby Boomers retire from their executive positions I guess we’re stuck as far as brick & mortar stores go.