Retail therapy may not be the most healthy form of relaxation that exists, but who am I to argue with what works. The real question is, why should I indulge in the old fashioned method of wandering around a mall when there is the power of the internet? Or am I just crazy (lazy) to be thinking like this?
Continues after the jump
The idea behind wandering from store to store is to find the lowest price possible for whatever item it is you want to purchase. Plaza Lowyat and Digital Mall are popular because there is so much competition at those locations that the sellers have no choice but to go give bargains to make a sale. It’s great for the consumer, but it’s also quite a bit of work. For one, you need to be aware of the regular price of the item and then locate the store with the lowest price. After which negotiations can begin. All this requires quite a bit of effort.
Alternatively, there is the option to use cyberspace to get what you want. Manufacturers often have their own online stores that make getting what you want a simple process. This option isn’t actually cheaper than going down to your favourite IT marketplace and getting a deal, but it is a lot more convenient. Especially for those who don’t live within a reasonable distance of KL or PJ.
Cheaper options come from online stores that are based in the same company. To save on shipping mostly. Groupon and eBay both have branches in Malaysia that deal in RM. The process easier if you don’t have to deal with a constantly fluctuating exchange rate. Alcatel even released their newest smartphone, the Idol X, on Lazada before anywhere else. All because they believe that the internet is the best way to reach customers. Frankly, they aren’t entirely wrong.
On the other hand, if you’re in the market for something other than a new electronic device, the internet is still a valid alternative. For instance, books is cheaper than those in regular stores. For instance, the latest novel in the Dresden Files series costs 5.93 pounds (RM30.48) on Amazon.co.uk; the same book retails for around RM35.90 in Borders. The difference changes dramatically if you’re willing to take some of the other options offered.
Speaking of ordering food, services like Foodpanda and Room Service Deliveries will bring meals from different restaurants over to wherever you happen to be at the moment. Great for those moments at home when you aren’t in the mood to cook or go out, but even better for days when one is left at the office after normal working hours. Lowyat.NET HQ is no stranger to eating in and these services have saved us from certain starvation on many occasions.
Convenience is the key word though. At least for urban areas who find it difficult to find time to do everything they want to do in a day. Tesco’s efforts to expand in South Korea is an excellent case study of how to adapt online stores to the new mobile reality. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but video could possibly explain the situation better.
Thankfully, the same delivery service also exists in our country. Albeit without the QR codes in train stations to make it easier to shop. Very useful for impressing your mother/wife/girlfriend with your ability to shop for groceries. Without needing to wander aimlessly in supermarket aisle specifically designed to promote impulse shopping.
Given these options, it now becomes much easier to do things I actually want to do. Like indulge in a hobby, work longer hours to earn more, or just lie on the couch watching reruns of sitcoms. Quality of life is what it’s about.
Unfortunately, there is one particular aspect of life that this manner of obtaining worldly goods fails. That is the problem with keeping ourselves clothed. I am a geek, and will therefore happily wear jeans and t-shirts for the rest of my life. Especially since geek t-shirts are generally made with decent quality and I probably wouldn’t nice if they weren’t.
A female friend pointed out that this definitely isn’t the case for the rest of society. There are many factors that go into buying clothes like cut, colour and texture that cannot be efficiently communicated over a 50 word block of text. This is why stores have dressing rooms for people to try things out before they make a purchase.
She was also quite put off by her experience of buying things which showed up in a different shade from what was on the website. Which is understandable considering that getting the right colours to show up in real life is a task that even the best graphics artists and editors struggle with. It gets worse when fashion is involved.
While I am able to indulge in the convenience of allowing other people to bring me food, drink and playthings, I will still probably need to leave the comfort of home behind to secure proper protection for my fleshy body. So maybe online shopping isn’t the final answer. At least not until 3D printing becomes more advanced so I can buy blueprints and colour them however I want.