Friday, October 16, 2009

Online Shopping: (Counter)Intuitive

It seems crazy, buying something sight unseen (or should we say untouched) - kind of like it seems crazy to write about your life and interests on the internet as a gesture of global community-building. But if blogging is anything to go on, internet commerce is a worthy investigation.

Many of my blogger friends are hard-core online shoppers. As a regular bricks-and-mortar shopper (I do live in a huge urban centre with access to most everything), I really couldn't understand this until quite recently. The onliners are American and British, mainly. No surprise there, as those two markets have the best infrastructure for online shopping.

Canada, as you know, is a vast landmass with a small population, triangulated between our wealthy (if currently beleaguered) neighbour to the south and our tiny, Commonwealth "parent" to the east. Between culture and geograpy, both the US and UK are optimally positioned to create strong, healthy online markets. We in Canada struggle to obtain online goods here in some format that doesn't cost a living fortune. And as we sport but a handful of homegrown outlets, relatively speaking, that's not easy.

Gotta say, shopping online via a large US company is rarely in the cards for me. The exchange rate, the extra shipping charge, the duty - they make the experience at least as expensive as if I were to go to the store to purchase object X. And if I go to the store I get to try it on. Again - it's the plus of urban living, I've got going for me.

I imagined shipping from the UK would be that much more onerous - I mean, it's over the freakin' ocean. But I have to tell you, it's not the case. Please stay tuned for my next post in which I promise to give deets about one of my most exciting online shopping trips to date - the one involving bras and undies! It was easy, fun, the customer service rocks - and I managed to buy for less than half of what it would cost me at the shops here.

I have mixed feelings about overthrowing my own local economy for quality goods at half the price from other lands. But I've been thoroughly impressed by the experience - which was not working for me at all any more at my long-time vendor - and my shopping experience matters to me.


  1. i have similar feelings about online shopping. i try to find sites that are affiliated with a cause, or run by a small group of people just trying to make a living (like, -- makes me feel a little better ;)

  2. How funny. I am completely mindful of the fact that you live in Canada, but somehow blanked on that when I thought of you shopping online. OF COURSE that would present roadblocks! But I'm glad to hear the UK sites are treating you well.

  3. You found a place with good customer service? Can't wait to hear about it.

  4. I too somehow blanked about the issues of online shopping if you live in Canada. And I am amazed at the cost of shipping things to Canada when I do order things from Canadian companies or sell something on ebay to someone from Canada.

    I'm glad UK sites are treating you well, and not surprised it can work because frankly at times I have found things that are cheaper to order from the UK than here in the USA.

  5. i love on-line shopping, especially if i can get a good deal and i don't have to traipse around town trying to look for what i need (make that want, not need)!

    i can't wait to see your next post!

    and i hope you have a fabulous weekend. :)

  6. I know what you mean my worst online shopping experience was from the US to me when I was in Banff for 2 week skiing. For some reason I thought it would be a good call but no as you said all the extras!

    I'm looking forward to the UK version as I know it is easy peasy!!

  7. Yeah, that's interesting ...about the international issues. I love online shopping. It's just so much easier for me. I rarely have to send anything back but when I do it's because I've gotten to try it on in my room, with all my outfit options ...and if it still doesn't work, back it goes. I understand your issue though. I also have some friends who would rather see it/touch it before they buy it, not so much. But I lack patience and waiting in lines and traffic and just people in general

  8. I vote for getting it where you can. They keep telling us it's a global economy, and you are entitled to get what works for you.

  9. I love a package from the UK but sometimes the exchange rate and shipping charge makes my eyes bulge. Same for anywhere else in Europe. My Best Behavior cardigan cost $33 in shipping. I couldn't believe it. It's just jersey!

  10. Jill: I totally agree with that strategy.

    Sal: I know, so close and yet so far :-) The other day I was wondering if you are closer to Thunder Bay than I am.

    Wendy: Now that you've heard, you must give it a try...

    Mardel: Now that surprises me. I guess that you have to take the individual vendor on the basis of its own policies...

    droll: I'm starting to get very into it. Which can't be good :-)

    Kate: So you know my frustration. It can cost soooo much money from the States.

    Maegan: Now that I've adjusted to the ease of online shopping (which can happen at all hours of the day or night!), I'm kind of getting into it :-)

    E: I'm going with the global economy argument. Definitely.

    E8: $33 is nuts, but I've spent that on things here that cost practically the same amount before the shipping. Kind of undercuts the joy of getting a package, yes?