Nov 10th, 2007 by Rich Page
Being a web analyst, and an avid online shopper, I thought it might be interesting to discuss the reasons why I think shopping online at Amazon.com is better than walking into your local Walmart or whatever… and i’m not just talking about the fact you can shop 24/7/365 online and you can’t in real stores. Read on, grasshopper…
1: You Save on Gas and Time. Remember those days of wasting time driving between stores or calling them up to find which one had the cheapest prices? I know I certainly don’t do much of that anymore because shopping online makes this a breeze with a few mouse clicks- and I can do it from the comfort of my bed if I want.
2: Online Stores Learn and Improve by Analyzing their Visitors. Real Stores Usually Don’t. If you walk into a store, and can’t find what you want, you give up, or if you wait too long in line, you give up. And the store doesn’t know you were even there, let alone that you couldn’t find what you were looking for or got angry and left for waiting too long.
By using web analytics, online stores know not only that you were there, but how and why you came to their store (from a search engine), where you went exactly in their store, which products you looked at, what you bought, and what part of their store you left from if you didn’t buy anything. Not bad eh? Based on information like that, online stores can be ‘optimized’ to meet the visitors needs better. Real stores are limited in their ability to do things like that and are many years behind in the technology they use.
3: Stores Don’t Have a Search Box. Just Idiot Store Assistants. Imagine if you could walk into a store and tell an automated machine exactly what you are looking for, and it brought everything you possibly could be interested in to you, immediately. Sounds nice eh. But if you think about it, thats what shopping online gives you when you run a search on a website. Instead, you are stuck with an idiot store assistant who barely knows where everything is in the store… and certainly won’t bring you what you are looking for.
4: In a Store, You Can’t Read Other People’s Reviews of Products. I know I don’t buy products without reading reviews from other people first – been bitten by that bug too many times before. And because online stores like Amazon offer customer reviews for pretty much everything they sell, you know if you are buying a piece of crap before you actually buy it. And when I do still buy in stores for those ‘impulse’ items, I use the wireless internet on my phone to go to Amazon.com and read the reviews first.
5: Real Stores Can’t Make Personalized Recommendations Imagine walking into a store, and immediately being given personal recommendations on what you might like to buy, based on what you bought before there, and to see them all without walking any further. That would be great right? Sound too futuristic? Go visit an online store like Amazon.com that you have brought from before, and chances are that you will see this very thing on their home page…
6: Tax Schmax. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to pay sales tax on what you buy? Well. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone… if you go online and buy from a store that doesn’t have a physical store in the state you are living in, then you don’t have to pay sales tax. And thanks to a recent announcement by the nice US government, that tax free shopping will continue for another ten years. Not bad eh?
7. Screaming Babies. Annoying People. Old People In the Way. No Parking. 15 year-old Idiot Checkout Assistants. Crappy Elevator Music. Bad Smells. Freezing Cold AC. When was the last time you had to deal with lovely things like this when you are shopping on Amazon.com? Enough said… right?
So. What do you think? Any other reasons why people prefer shopping online to real shopping? Anyway. I’m off to order a camera from Amazon… in my underwear.