The Digital Consumer
Insight and advice for online shopping.
Over the weekend I had an epiphany: I am not a traditional shopper and I don’t even think I know how to shop traditionally anymore. This really got me thinking about how different my consumer process must be from when my mother was my age.
Epiphany! Over the weekend I had an epiphany: I am not a traditional shopper and I don’t even think I know how to shop traditionally anymore. Last Sunday I was sitting on my bed, watching Netflix on my PlayStation 3, texting my friends from cities away, and getting feedback on dresses I was looking at while apartment hunting online. And this really got me thinking about how different my consumer process must be from when my mother was my age.
The Digital Apartment Hunt
I don’t know how my mom looked for apartments when she was my age, but I realized while I was searching through ads on Kijiji that I didn’t know where else to look for apartments. Then I thought - Craigslist and I googled “Toronto Apartments” and was a little embarrassed at myself when I saw that all these sites were similar. The point isn’t that I don’t know what other websites to look at, but rather that I didn’t know where to search outside of the web.
I really started to think about how much the apartment hunt had changed over the last few years and started to analyze my apartment hunting process:
- Pick a website/directory – My choice is Kijiji for user friendliness
- Decide on a central location for all searches – I decided that my workplace made the most sense
- Limit/personalize the search by number of bedrooms, pet friendly, etc.
- Start the vetting process
- Only look at locations with pictures
- Utilities included & parking available
- Google Test – yes Google Test
So the Google Test works like this, take the address from the ad, plug it into Google Maps and get the TTC directions from work to the apartment, anything over an hour commute or more than 3 transfers was too hard for a Monday morning commute and was disregarded in the search. If the commute is doable, I used Street View to determine if I trusted the location.
Finally, after all this preliminary vetting I would e-mail for more information or a viewing date. This made me wonder: what other products/companies do I extensively vet before I even give the product a second thought? And that lead to my Digital Dress Hunt.
The Digital Dress Hunt
Trying to plan a wedding is ridiculous and for anyone looking for advice…elope! But the one thing I am really looking forward to is the shower - the one event where you can see everyone before the wedding that YOU DON’T HAVE TO PLAN! The only thing you need to worry about, or should worry about, is getting there (knowing the date in advance) and picking out a dress/outfit for it – WAIT….I don’t have a dress yet!
As a full-time working woman, I don’t have time to comb through the malls and stores of Toronto to find the right dress. So I asked myself: how do I normally look for a dress? Well, I usually go to the stores where I know I’ll like the fashions and search the racks. But I don’t have the time for that.
I get home Monday night, take Paige (my dog) for a walk, make dinner, do laundry and hopefully get to the gym before my roommate gets home, so I don’t think browsing is going to work. Instead of wasting my time doing nothing while I do laundry, I grab my laptop and start rifling through the digital racks. I Googled all the stores I know and trust, pull up mall directories, and start looking through the dress selections. I take the ones I like (that are in my price range) and pin them to a special Pin Board on Pinterest. Once I’ve compiled a sizable selection to choose from, I head to my Pinterest page for a final vetting stage before sending the link off to friends and family for their feedback. I ask them to ‘like’ or comment on the dresses they suggest and tell them I am heading out Friday to try them on.
While I’m on my way to work Friday morning, I pull up my pin board, where I’ve also allowed a few friends the ability to add items. When all is said and done, I see I have three stores and 5 dresses to check out when I get off work.
Why is this important?
Well, because I vetoed stores, dresses and whole locations before ever stepping foot outside my door. I had decided what dresses to try on, what store to choose, and what location to go to. The Yokdale Mall didn’t have a chance since I knew the same dresses were available at the more conveniently located Eaton Centre. The sales staff didn’t influence whether I came in or not, just whether I purchased in the store or checked eBay when I got home.
- Make sure I can find your website on Google; search words for this particular hunt were “blue dress”, “Alice inspired dress”, and the company name if I knew it.
- Have your products professionally shot and easily searchable/sharable online, prices listed, and display location-by-location availability.
- And have the most user-friendly site you can manage. Some were so difficult to navigate that I gave up and went somewhere else.
Last thought – the traditional shopper isn’t dead, and as much as I love window shopping and wandering the mall, sometimes I don’t have time and still have a need to buy something specific by a certain deadline. The online vetting process works best for my lifestyle, especially when the mall isn’t open at midnight when I’m finally free to browse.
Thanks and get digital.
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As I look down at my iPhone - connected to GPS and with a camera + voice recorder built-in, and then at all my social apps; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc...I realize that I have the ability to share my everything with the world.
It’s not the salivating dessert shots or daunting DIY crafts that creep me out - it’s the fact that I just don’t belong.