The Evolution Shopping
Selecting which gifts to buy for any occasion is difficult and comes with a variety of challenges including choosing your budget, getting a gift the recipient(s) will be happy with and getting a gift that will be remembered by whoever is receiving it. However, when choosing which gifts to buy purely online, there are additional challenges to be found.
Because you are not shopping for the gift in a traditional sense (going to a shop and examining it before purchasing), you need to assess the item of product very differently. Furthermore, many people find shopping for anything, let alone a gift for someone else, extremely challenging and quite a headache at times (source: Cotton Twist).
The Evolving Purchasing Process
In past years, any gift bought for anyone, from items of clothing to novelty items and even electronics would need to be properly seen, examined and assessed in store by the purchaser.
This was to ‘qualify’ the item; to make sure you bought what you were hoping for and to check that the item met expectations. For example, it may be the case that online or in a magazine, an item has a stated size, but in reality, it didn’t match up and would come up too large or too small, with different clothing retailers’ sizes slightly varying.
Nowadays however, with the death of the traditional high street appearing to be an evolving reality, more and more people are shopping online for all nature of gifts. This evolution in consumer behaviour has come about in part due to the surge in popularity of the likes of Amazon, ASOS, eBay and other well-established online retailers and marketplaces. These online retailers make selecting gifts easy as can be online.
Because customers can view, zoom in on and even sometimes ‘test’ items (for example in a simulated test environment), the need to physically ‘go and see’ a product is greatly reduced. Apart from items which are dependent on senses of smell and taste, it is perfectly feasible to select an item online.
Shops, Outlets and the High Street
Shops, outlets and other retail premises on the high street do still have their places although for many, it is an accepted practice to go to a shop to physically view, taste or smell the product or gift idea in question. Once the product to be purchased is decided upon, many consumers will then go online and buy the exact same product, often at a cheaper price.
Hence, the high street and high street-dependent businesses are for the most part, in a steep decline. Some retailers and shops do however have their places on the high street over some others. This includes food and drink providers and the likes of coffee shops. Additionally, shops selling fragrances and ‘testable’ items such as perfumes, alcohol, chocolates and similar do see visitors, with people needing to experience the products to validate them as a purchase from time to time. An issue faced by such businesses though is that people may simply use the shop to taste or test an item, only then to purchase it online thereafter.
The future does not look brilliant for the high street in a traditional sense with many shops and businesses being forced to close, unable to afford drops in profits twinned with expensive business rates and staffing costs. That all said, it may well be a case that the high street evolves rather than disappears, although that remains to be seen.