Shopping, Redefined

Though the signs were pointing in that direction, what we’re watching is still rather surprising. Some might argue that we’re saying goodbye to a tradition, and that the obvious new course of retail shopping, put on display like a neon sign on the Vegas strip, will leave us devoid of an experience.

While chatting with a friend on Saturday, he remarked that it “just wasn’t the same.” Each year, he and his family headed out early to see the stores and displays, taking advantage of a fantastic low price here, a two for one toy sale there, then heading to a crowded chain restaurant for lunch, only to venture out again in the afternoon for those sales that began a bit later on in the afternoon or evening.

Those stores opened on Friday, of course, there was little that was different about that. Thanksgiving openings, early morning openings that could have just as easily been described as “middle of the night” openings…the retailers certainly put in the hours at the brick and mortar retail establishments. What wasn’t the same, my friend remarked, was the crowds.

I suppose some might find it odd that anyone living in this modern world could possibly long for the presence of more people anywhere, much less while shopping. But that was the case with this pal of mine. He missed the crowds.

Yes, millions of folks ventured out on Black Friday, 2015. Yes, there were plenty of shoppers out and about. And of course, there were sales, plenty of them. But the crowds, they weren’t as large. And you could see the difference from past years.

If our home region of Hampton Roads, Virginia is any indication, it certainly looks like a sea change. If not the end of physical retail stores, than it certainly signaled that change was necessary in the way they do business.

It wasn’t long ago that Google advised webmasters everywhere to ensure that their sites were optimized for use with mobile devices. A timetable was given for making the necessary changes to ensure that it was easy for folks to use our pages on their iPhones, Galaxy tabs and other devices without a hitch. The images needed to be properly parsed and resized, and anyone wishing to be properly indexed by the world’s biggest, baddest search engine were to make it as easy as possible for folks to surf, shop and view sites “on the go.” If that wasn’t a sign of things to come (or perhaps already here) then…

Payment Methods are now wide-ranging and highly technical. Apple, Samsung, and of course “old stand-by” Pay Pal allow you to pay by using a smartphone or table. At one point many thought that a cashless society was a pipe dream, but we’re inching in that direction steadily, aren’t we.

Though we believe that retail stores still solve a problem (you still can’t hold an item at a website in your hand, can you?) and fill a need, this shift from in-store to online is a big one. And we believe it’s here to stay. Until, of course, the entire thing goes virtual. But that’s an article for another day.