Product placement via VR and AR. AI product search filter logic. Social Media shopping – feed to shopping basket. AI shopping personalisation. Drone delivery. Subscription commerce. Voice commerce. If you thought we had reached the zenith of our consumer culture, then you should buckle your seatbelt. The same technological advancements that gave us facebook pokes instead of giving us a car costing 4 cents which required one tank of gas ever, are set to enable us to shop almost without thinking. Given how most of us actually do shop, that’s a pretty scary thought. When was the last time you came back from the mall, or looked into the boxes DHL delivered, and thought “why did I buy this?” Which might explain why 1 in 8 of every online purchase (in Germany) is returned.
If you are like me, you have shopped online recently. When I say “recently” I mean of course in the last 48 hours. You only have to travel back maybe ten years to read about the “trend” in online shopping and how growing numbers of people were beginning to do their banking online. I do remember saying to myself I would “never” bank online – because it didn’t seem safe. I also remember watching a friend of mine transfer money directly into my account in payment for a TV back in 1999. He actually transferred money, into my bank account, within seconds, using his desktop PC. It was as if he were showing me fire for the first time. Now of course we are so casual with online commerce that we bank, shop, book holidays, and even trade stocks on our mobile phones. While on a train. Drinking coffee … and posting pictures of that on instagram.
How much of what is happening the evolution of digital technology, and how much is simply the next step in consumer capitalism?
Major inventions and discoveries, like the discovery of fire and electricity, or the internet in this case, have had major impacts on us. So much that it seems we can no longer live without them – which, in the case of fire and electicity is probably true. We are at the point now that we take digital technology for granted in our work, entertainment, and consumer habits. In the case of online shopping and commerce, our expectations are steadily increasing. As expectations increase, so do the demands on stores and services to provide not just the level of their competitors, but to raise the bar and offer something better and different to attract us and keep our attention.
Takeaways – to Go
Our current digital shopping culture raises many questions, such as:
- Are we being distracted to our detriment?,
- How will our digital consumerism affect the jobs of store owners, bank tellers, clerks etc.?,
- What do we do with all this stuff (including packaging)? and,
- How many resources (people, natural and fabricated) are going into providing us with the world of online shopping?
I’ve written in past blogs about our Digital Culture, and will again in future blogs – but here are some Takeaways to begin your own brainstorming sessions with:
Every time you pull away from something to check your phone, it takes 1,395 seconds (23+ minutes) on average to regain your focus on the task you were just performing…
About 165 billion packages are shipped in the US each year alone, with the cardboard used roughly equating to more than 1 billion trees (that’s billion with a ‘b’)…
The logistics industry is threatened with collapse, and delivery drivers are often subcontracted to their detriment. More than 100 million people have signed up for Amazon’s Prime service alone. Customers can use this free shipping as often as they like…