What’s Really Wrong With Online Shopping?

A few days back one of my friends went to DMart to buy some utensils for her new home. She had a hard time deciding which non-stick cooking pan to buy — there were millions of options with different buying offers, different kinds of warranties and different features. It was an overload of information.

It got me thinking. Maybe something similar happens when we go online to shop. In some cases, when we know exactly what to buy, say iPhone 7 32GB, it is relatively easy — we just have to find the online website offering the best deal.

But when we don’t know exactly what to buy, zeroed down to the exact model number, for eg. when we are trying to simply find a utensil which is non-stick, durable, decent looking, from a reputed company, and also cheap — it is pretty obvious that we get lost.

The only upside is of this complication is that even if we buy the wrong cutlery, it won’t be the end of the world. It won’t matter at least as much as it would when we buy the wrong clothes. And obviously, we shop for apparels more frequently than we shop for utensils, which means we spend a lot of time being bombarded with offers and suggestions, and spend a big chunk of our shopping time remaining confused between options. I’m a guy so I get away relatively easy. This is 10 times harder for a girl.

To give some stats, a study in 2006 found out that the average woman will shop for an astonishing 25,184 hours and 53 minutes over a period of 63 years — basically she will be busy shopping 8 years of her life. Now I am not suggesting that the study is full proof and without BS. It is 10 years too old for one fact.

To get some context myself, I did some asking around, and I got to know some pretty interesting things. I know of a certain person who spends her time browsing shopping sites instead of Facebook on a daily basis. I also know that my friend who had trouble buying the right cooking pan had spent as many as 8 straight hours browsing apparels online to find the right pair of jeans.

I also understood from my research that girls love shopping. It is not just about finding the right clothes for yourself in a jiffy. The experience of browsing through the items gives a visceral experience.

But shopping for clothes becomes a problem when you are having to find the one special item from loads of ordinary items. I think there is still some problem in this area that needs solving. The very fact that there are so many players means that no one has actually nailed online shopping.

Google nailed the search engine. Similarly, it is pretty hard to beat Facebook as a social network, because Facebook does it so well. Any other player, be it Ello or Google+ didn’t stand a chance. Unlike social networks, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Elanic, Chumbak, Myntra, Jabong, Ajio, etc. are thriving together just because there is still scope for all of them to exist, and no single solution has been able to take hold of the whole pie. I think there is still a lot of scope to build the Facebook of online shopping instead of being a copycat.


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