February 16, 2012

In store, at home or both?

Filed under: Customer Service,Technology — by xrematon @ 3:42 pm
Tags: , , ,

Shops – are they in or out? It’s hard to tell. Forecasts for online shopping are pretty bullish, but then again, shiny stores appear here, there and everywhere. There was news the other week about Google getting in on the act.

Well, I must confess to being keen on online shopping as getting to places is not always straightforward when you don’t have a car, and then being in the shop can be pretty painful when you are restraining bored children.

However, last week, I tried a different type of shopping experience – without a shop but very much placed in the ‘real world’. A friend has recently become an ‘Usborne Book Lady’ and hosted her opening party at home. Now, I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty about whether this kind of selling makes sense. If you are after that – it’s easy to find more on the ever-informative Mumsnet – where it is clear some aren’t that keen on the whole idea.

what i really can’t understand with usbourne (or avon or pheonix) is that you can get it all on amazon or somewhere else at good prices. how do you make any money for the time put in? is it one huge con or are people happy to make a little money in the belief that they are actually achieving something? Whilst in the meantime these big companies are raking it in, asking for the workers to spread their name !!. The workers are evan BUYING their products to sell on! And the way i read it, it seems to be evolving almost of pyramid selling with one person taking on initiates to ‘manage’ …. it just seems to me someone is exploiting a strangely vulnerable (yet hugely strong (??)) sector of society – those who want to earn (however much that may be) whilst still wanting to be there at all times for their children.

Though I agree that you can just get it all on Amazon, the experience – in some ways – was very different to buying online.  Obviously, I could pick up the books, handle them, flick through the pages, all pretty crucial when you are getting items for fussy customers (children).  But, here’s the thing – what made it special: online,  you have to glean what you can from reading other people’s reviews; here I was surrounded by other mothers, who had children of the same age, who could share their wisdom and answer questions straight away. It was a real-life experience of hearing about other user’s opinions –  much vaunted as the critical feature for virtual shopping.

But I guess the killer question for some is whether it changed what I bought. On balance – yes – I got more – and know what I want to get next time.

PS Did I mention there are tea and cakes on tap too!


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