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Why I don’t feel guilty about online shopping

January 6, 2011

 Aussie consumers have been fired up this week with a group of large Australian retailers launching an advertising campaign calling for the application of the GST to foreign online purchases under $1000.

This comes off the back of a quiet Christmas shopping period for the traditional retailers, with many Australians turning to the web for cheaper prices and an abundance of choice.

Retail giants Myer, Harvey Norman and The Just Group, fronted by prominent businessmen Bernie Brookes, Gerry Harvey and Solomon Lew, have been the faces of this campaign trying to trick us into believing that by buying online, we’re being un-Australian.

We’ll be costing up to 30,000 Aussie jobs they say.

I say you’ve had years to prepare for the e-tail revolution and how dare you blame the punters for not wanting to pay your inflated prices and accept your shitty service anymore.

In fact, even if the GST was applied to these online purchases they’d still be cheaper than most of the Aussie retailers and we’d still shop online. But it’s not just about price.

It’s a natural progression. As with many of our daily tasks, such as banking, paying bills and communicating, shopping is just the next activity to make the shift to the internet.  In fact we’ve been doing it for years already – buying concert tickets from ticketek.com.au and ordering flowers from 1300flowers.com.au for example. Now we’re taking it a step further and buying electronics, books, clothes and homewares online too. And with the world marketplace being available to us, we’re going to shop around to get the best deal.

It’s convenient and time efficient. You don’t have to get out of your pyjamas to shop online (though I don’t believe you need to at Fountain Gate either) and you don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on the kids wandering off.
You don’t have to navigate your way around a poorly structured car park, only to not find a car park for 20 minutes and then have to pay for the privilege of shopping all day (thanks Westfield). Car parking is actually my number one reason for avoiding shopping centres during the festive season, it completely stresses me out and turns me into psychotic & emotional wreck. And that’s before I have to brave the crowds and waste time queueing at checkouts.
And speaking of queues, what’s with queueing to get into shops these days? Tiffany’s Chadstone – you are not a nightclub. I understand the need for security at the door and I understand that you’re a popular store wanting to give your customers an elite shopping experience, but you’re located in a shopping centre for Christ’s sake! You’re not all class! Making four people line-up outside your half-empty store is hilariously wanky.

We’ve had enough of poor customer service. I’m not willing to pay extra for my products when I don’t get a smile from the retail assistant let alone a ‘Can I help you?’. A former retail employee myself, I’m disgusted by the ‘customer service’ on offer these days. My favourite form of sub-standard service is when store employees are engrossed in conversation with each other and ignore you completely, and then continue talking whilst putting through your transaction. And with more and more stores offering self-checkout (including times when self-checkout is the only method available) why should I be responsible for job losses when the stores are doing a perfectly good job of that themselves?
Staff product knowledge is not up to scratch either; most of the time they can’t tell you more about the product than is readable on the packaging. You’re better off checking out blogs and customer review websites for information on products, we’re more likely to trust peer recommendations over retailers anyway.

So I sure as hell don’t feel one iota of guilt about shunning the retail rip-off and getting a better deal online. In fact, this campaign has fired me up to undertake as much of my shopping online as is possible. I call it e-tail therapy.

What do you think? What are you favourite online shopping sites?

Some great online shopping websites I love:

www.bookdepository.co.uk
www.kitchenwaredirect.com.au
www.strawberrynet.com
www.urbanoutfitters.com
www.topshop.com
www.petersofkensington.com.au

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011 5:05 pm

    I’m with you, kiddo!!
    I’m totally fed up with poor service, contempt for customers and queueing and have just blogged about the exact same issue in the food industry!!

  2. January 6, 2011 5:42 pm

    I totally agree, though in the last few weeks the whole service angle has come under question.

    I’ve spent the last 8 years living in the US and I have [somewhat] joking stated that the plane that brought me back was not only a flying machine, but a time machine. It truly is like living in the [technological] past. I not only WANT to purchase goods and services on the internet I, as an internet, media, and digital professional, feel REQUIRED to. And while living in Chicago, I did. Almost everything I could, that wasn’t size or time constrained, I purchased online.

    Now in Australia, I simply don’t have that choice; not only is finding an item I desire to purchase harder, it’s more expensive, more complicated, slower, less consistent, more obtrusive, more [of my] time consuming, and generally less satisfying.

    I have purchased, books, laptops, mobile phones/accessories, electronics, and furniture since my return and invariably there has been some sort of issue; be it payment, delivery, stock level, shipping any number of other difficulties. This DID NOT HAPPEN in the US. Almost ever. The few times that it did the process to remedy the problem was faster, easier, simpler, and just better overall than it is to even by something here.

    Furthermore, for any products that I purchased that didn’t have a retail location in the state I resided in, I didn’t have to pay sales tax (app. 10%) on! And you didn’t see those retailers complaining about it. You saw them TAKE ADVANTAGE of it, by selling to other states’ customers.

    Now, I want to buy products from Australia and as such, in theory at least, delivery times should be shorter — though I have not experience this — and the large distances that goods need to travel to be delivered here should cause them to have far more expensive shipping charges. But this is simply not the case for a very simple reason: if I can pay less and have a more enjoyable experience: I’m not only willing to, but happy to wait longer.

    So, Australian retailers, listen up: if you don’t adapt to online shopping either we’re going to go overseas for our products (GST or no GST) or your smaller, more efficient, opportunistic local competitors will. And you can say good-bye to your market share and good-bye to the status quo; see how much political clout you wield when you have no customers, no employees and no sales. Stop whinging and whining and either adapt to the realities of the world largest democracy or we’ll vote you out the same way you’re try to strong arm us and the government: with our wallets.

    Christopher — Memory Box Backup

  3. Katherine permalink
    January 6, 2011 9:45 pm

    Well said. I don’f feel guilty buying online. I’m sick of being ripped off in this country. Online is the only way. Better prices, better range and whats even better delivered to my door!

  4. January 7, 2011 1:19 am

    HEAR, HEAR! I *completely* agree! I feel the same way about Australia Post too, unfortunately – in the past month alone I’ve had ”sorry we missed you” cards left in my letterbox (when I’ve been at home waiting for the delivery, however the postman in question couldn’t be bothered making the trip to my door), lost packages, items placed in the wrong letter box – it’s incredibly frustrating and ultimately, when you DO have such a consistently disappointing retail experience, it makes sense to seek out an alternative, right?!

  5. January 7, 2011 7:05 pm

    I don’t really understand the point. And why people could feel guilty to shop online. That’s a really new concept to feel guilty about that 0_0 !

  6. Rosie permalink
    March 1, 2011 1:33 pm

    I often buy things online. It’s easier to find out what the item you buying is like. I rely a lot on the reviews on digital items and clothing as they offer an insight to if the item runs bigger or smaller.

    Ticketmaster is so so much easier than lining up outside the nearest outlet just praying you don’t get a nosebleed seat.

    Online shopping is so much easier!

  7. July 19, 2011 10:15 pm

    I think this service is very good and useful.

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