Friday, August 10, 2012

Brick and Mortar vs. Keyboard and Monitor

When it comes to shopping people are now faced with an almost impossible question. Get it from the store, or get it online? Even your most basic items, milk, bread, Xbox 360 controllers, are now available through a point and a click. The nice grocery person comes and drops off your supplies while you continue to crush (virtual) rebel scum.  But at what point do you need to stand in front of something, feel it, hold it, caress it, get told to stop caressing it? Where should the line be? Is it your big purchases? Purchases you’re planning on ingesting? Or is it like pornography, do you know it when you see it?

Everything media related there is no reason to go out and get it at all. Books,movies, music, the internet shops give you about fifty more options in both what you can get and pricing so that there is no point in venturing out into the wilderness. Just ask Borders. Anything that does not need to be used for any kind of physical activity, unlike say, you’re lawnmower, can and usually is purchased online. Also not available in the store is the comments sections underneath any item you're interested in. And if you have any questions they are answered by a chat window, or the specs underneath.
Online stores with a niche focus are the experts that you want to but can never seem to find in a blue shirt at the store.

 So heading to a brick and mortar store for those items seems kind of pointless.Most people would say that large purchases need to be seen up close. Cars, houses, boats, hot air balloons, before buying the purchaser must physically see it and analyze whether it is worth money. Computers do play a part, they are integral to the research that people do to make sure they get the best price, get all the extras they want, and give them a base haggle position. But if you look at it on paper it’s not really necessary.

You can find a used car or have a car built to your specifications online. If you get the car’s carfax, you know that the dealer can’t screw you over, so why go in? After you’ve dropped a few thousand the dealership will be happy to drive the car to your driveway and make the guy who made the least sales that month walk back. So even the old standbys it’s difficult to rationalize a reason to leave your house.

The other thing that most people expect you to do is go out and buy groceries. Why? Peapod is available in tons of places, and those that aren’t can cheat a little bit with using the internet to pick out what they want and then pick it up at the store. Thanks to the litigious nature of our country, it is very unlikely that anything is tainted. Because that is something that could cause them to be sued so hard, that someone could be given the fillings out the CEO’s teeth as recompense.

So what are the brick and mortars to do? Well they’ve slowly come to realize that the experience is what makes people want to come in. On paper you have no reason to go outside except for work, and for some of us not even then.  But as humans we still crave silly things like sunlight, and human companionship. That’s why movie theaters, which people were sure are going to be obsolete in five years continue to make money. Less than money than they want to, but if you look at it they shouldn’t be making any.

But the idea to meet up with people and sit in the dark for a while and complain about how bad it was afterwards are still around. And movie theaters have been smart in moving towards making it an overall experience. They offer dinner, fun stuff during and after the show to keep people from just staying home. So brick and mortar may not be dead, but that may just be the sheer will of human nature and not so much because it is the best option.