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The Age of the Internet:
The internet has had a dramatic effect on the way most of us choose and buy a wide variety of products. Just a few years ago, our preferred method of shopping is likely to have been to pay a visit to our local shops, or, if we were looking to make a special purchase, probably to venture into a nearby city, or to an out-of-town shopping centre, where the biggest outlets with the widest choice of products could be found.
That idea has been strongly challenged in recent times, as most of us become ever-more accustomed to looking for what we want to buy online. For major purchases especially, we are happy to scour the internet to find the cheapest prices available.
But how many people, when they do this, give much thought to where the websites on which they find the best prices are run from, and therefore, how far their goods will have to travel to reach them when they finally click on that ‘Buy Now‘ button.
My guess would be very few. We have become so intent on tracking down the best possible price for the precise product we want, that little thought is given to how it will eventually reach us after we take that split-second decision to make a purchase from a particular website.
Buying Online creates convenience:
From the buyer’s point of view, shopping online breaks new boundaries in convenience, because it means we can compare products for all the criteria which we can possibly consider when we buy, and then look for the outlet which offers the product we find best meets our needs at the lowest possible price. And yet, when we do this, apart from exceptional occasions when a website will publish its full registered address, most of us will give little or no thought to where our goods will be shipped from, and therefore the task which lies ahead for the delivery company which will ensure that those goods, ordered in a fraction of a second, in turn reach us safely and in the shortest time possible.
This convenience is, of course, a compelling reason why so many of us now choose to shop for many of the things we buy online. But conversely, businesses of course are always looking out for locations from where they can operate while incurring the lowest possible overheads.
As a result, a company can have as many ‘shop fronts‘ as possible, yet its online operation could equally be run from relatively unassuming premises, well away from the locations of these prestigious shop windows. Companies which already have large-scale premises which are used for storage of their products before they are sent out to their stores may, therefore, have a strong advantage over purely web-based companies when it comes to operating the online arm of their business.
But in truth, the motivation for shopping online is so strongly skewed towards seeking out the lowest possible price for the products that we want to buy, that the vast majority of shoppers won’t care whether their goods are picked off the shelves of a posh flagship store, or come from a dingy warehouse operated from an industrial estate – provided they reach them safely, and in a reasonable time-frame.