Christmas Shopping On Line

Today, I received a mail from paypal.com presenting me their latest product, the PayPal Shop. Shops on the internet are nothing particularly new, however this one is slightly different: it is a products-comparison application and a shop in one. Networked media and inter-connected shops allow us not only to easily compare specifications amongst similar products, it also allows us to compare prices between different shops. (So does e.g. Kelkoo.) This has an impact on how we will do our shoppings in the future.

Every year comes Christmas shopping. This is the time of the year, where you are challenged to find the most interesting gift for your friends and family. So you may pop out to the market, Harrod's, or gift shops to get inspiration or you may browse the internet. Both ways of shopping have pros and cons. However, buying stuff on the internet will most likely replace classical Christmas shopping. And this is why: The biggest obstacle at the moment for online shopping is payment. Handing over your credit card details to a completely anonymous application may detain people from proceeding. This is where Paypal kicks in. By using Paypal, you only need to trust one institution and you can still deal with a many anonymous traders. That is why, Paypal is especially successful in the context of eBay. Another reason for not shopping online is the complexity of most of the shops. In fact, the online stores tried to use metaphors from the real world such as "basket" or "check-out" to make the process as understandable as possible but a lot of people still do not understand how it works. The "One Click Buy" as e.g. introduced by the Apple Store help in this regard. Another thing is, customers need to find trust in the seller. How do you know, that the seller will not run away with your credit card details and not send you the nice necklace you've just purchased for 500 bucks? In the real world, you could run after him and beat him up whereas online you can at most send him flame hate mails and you cannot even be sure, if you reach him. Again, eBay proposed a solution for this, which is the seller ranking.

These are the features, that recently came up to gain the customers trust and comfort.

There are other features now, that make shopping online a different experience from shopping in the real world. These can be considered to be useful or not. The most important here is the search functionality. You can instantly find products you are looking for e.g. on eBay or Froogle. Searching this funny t-shirt you have seen on TV is a really time consuming process in the real world if not impossible whereas on froogle it's just two query words away.

The second thing is comparison - you can compare prices and technical specifications of the products "on the fly". You can hardly do this as efficiently when you're in the middle of a shop, standing in front of a dozen computers.

And a third important difference is the famous "People who bought these products also bought that" feature as seen on Amazon. The fact that shopping habits can be profiled and matched to similar patterns can indeed be very helpful and let you know products, you were not aware, you wanted to know. This is almost impossible to do in the real world simply because every single customer would have to be consulted individually.

As a conclusion, I believe, once the people get used to buying stuff online, this will replace the traditional way we were consuming. Going out and actually entering a store to buy non food products will become more of an experience of fun and leisure than an actual need. Like nowadays, we go to the mountains hiking, which is walking for fun. 150 years ago, nobody would even think of going in the mountains and walk for fun. Walking was the only means of transport and a necessity for most of the people.

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