How Shopping has Changed…

Anyone shop? Yeah… I’ll bet pretty much everyone shops. I know that I do. And I’ve actually had a paradigm shift occur with regard to my shopping pattern that I wanted to share. Up until last year I hated shopping online (which is ironic if you note that I own and make my living from several online retail companies). I was a “buy it in the store” kind of guy even if that meant I had to drive to several locations and pay more to get my item. I wanted it right away and I was willing to pay a premium. Plus I felt more comfortable in a store where I could see and hold the product and, if it was unavailable, easily search for comparable alternatives.

I’ve copied my personal Amazon shopping history below. It might not be that interesting (and I realize it’s “long”), but it shows how my purchase volume has skyrocketed in the last year or so:

I can’t quite explain this shift. Maybe it was Amazon Prime? Getting most items in two days has been exceptionally convenient. Perhaps it’s the fact that things are almost never “out of stock.” There’s always somewhere online to get what I’d like. Maybe I’ve simply gotten more patient as I’ve aged? I don’t feel like I need things right away. Or maybe I realize the importance of saving time and money more than I used to? Shopping online tends to be cheaper and I don’t have to actually go anywhere- my purchase comes to me! I don’t know… but now I shop online.

In some ways the transition has been jarring. The other day I went shopping for a couch and a love seat. I made the sojourn down to R.C. Willey in Orem. As soon as I walked into the store I felt overwhelmed. How was I going to find anything? As I wandered around the floor I literally thought, “I need a search. I can’t sort by color, price, size or anything. I feel really uncomfortable!” Eventually someone offered to help me and he became my “search” and “sort” option. “Blue leather couch” I queried. Off we went around the store. I was able to complete my purchases in about two hours (including commute time). Somehow I was left feeling disappointed and aggravated.

A few days later I needed a second love seat. This time I checked out R.C. Willey’s website. They have (finally) added the option to shop online. I quickly sorted through their love seats, selected the color I wanted and reviewed the physical dimensions. Within three minutes I had concluded my shopping. I did drive down to pick the item up (I guess I still have a hard time waiting), but my online purchase left me feeling much happier. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m on online shopper now. If I switched then maybe other people are switching. People like me must be part of the reason why companies like Amazon are gaining so much ground. Even my “little” company is growing by leaps and bounds.  Customer continue to migrate to the web. I know, I know- that’s not an original idea, and it’s already backed up by tons of survey data. But now you can add my anecdotal experience to the evidence cache.

I can’t figure out why I waited so long. But even stranger is that I really don’t know why this shopping shift occurred or how I became so uncomfortable in physical stores.  Anyone else become an online shopper recently?