Punchinello’s Chronicles

November 1, 2008

Online Shopping -vs- Big Stores

Filed under: Foolish Rants — Punchinello @ 11:46 pm
Tags: , ,

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting fed up with the cookie-cutter sameness of modern-day Mall, America. And that’s only the half of it! I’m getting even more bent outta shape about the increasing problem of finding what I want in the damn store at all.

One of the supposedly brilliant developments of modern retail has been last-minute warehousing. It originally came from Japan, particularly the Toyata company and their production line. Rather than keep hundreds of parts lying around, taking up room and costing money, these manufacturing companies only brought in the parts needed for immediate production.

Retail companies thought that would be a breakthrough idea. Instead of keeping items (not parts) on the shelves taking up space, or having a couple of extra in the back room taking up shelves, they’d just order the minimum. When they were “about to” run out (according to nobody knows what), they’d order more.

Manufacturing a zillion cars, one after another, day after day, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to get just a day’s worth of parts delivered. But no retail shop in the world can make that kind of steady prediction on a regular basis. Shoppers moods change, particular things catch the consumer’s attention, holidays come along, people run out of stuff, and so on.

Then came another frickin’ brilliant idea: terminate the season early to make room for the next season’s item. After all, everyone already bought sandals or barbeque grills, snow shovels or down parkas, so why keep them in the store? I went out in July to buy a pair of sandals, and my main choices were between fur-lined boots and hiking boots. In July!

“Sandals? We’re out of ’em.”

Don’t even think about buying fishing supplies during the summer. Unless you buy them in January, they’re out of stock by June!

Over and over, we go out to try and find the simplest things and they’re out of stock. If we find something we like, we’ve learned never to speak that phrase outloud or it’ll be immediately discontinued. Worse, the whole store will go out of business! Although we try to buy a lifetime supply, we keep living longer than we’d have expected!

Nope. The answer is online shopping. We can get precisely what we want, when we want it, in quantities we want, and delivered to our door. We find the most peculiar things along the way, none of which are carried in big stores because they’re “niche products.”

Five years ago, we thought of going shopping first, then grudgingly though of online shopping. Today, we immediately begin with online shopping, and only look for items in big stores as a vague afterthought.

All those Harvard Business School managers and Big Six accountants have done a heck of a job! Aside from opening up the world of small business owners, minor product niches, and work-from-home careers, they’ve pretty much pissed of the entire consumer market. For awhile, they could at least say they were pleasing the stockholders. Today? Not so much.

A rousing round of applause of corporate accountants!

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