The lure of doing your Christmas shopping whilst sat on the sofa, sipping mulled wine and watching Netflix may appear very convenient and make you feel smart and productive, but is it?
Online shopping is attractive and advertisers remind us of the benefits. But do we consider all of the risks or implications of shopping on your phone rather than on your feet. Here are ten reasons to go 'bricks and mortar' this year!
1. “While you were out”
Up to 10,000,000 parcels are estimated to go undelivered at Christmas by Royal Mail alone. What happens next? You get the dreaded card through the door requiring you to visit your local depot – which can be up to 10 miles away for 16% of the population. Given the unique trading hours of Royal Mail depots, this may mean you don’t get your parcel in time for the big day. Explain that to the crying child! 1,2
2. 1,000,000 parcels a week go missing at Christmas.
Whilst the team at Royal Mail's National Return Centre will make every effort to track down a parcel and get it to its intended recipient, how will you know to ask? Many online retailers put multiple items in a single box and we don’t realise Uncle Cyril’s remote control led candle isn’t here until we’re doing the big wrap on 23rd December. Just picture Uncle Cyril’s sad face. 3
3. Money spent locally, gets spent locally.
If you want the place where you live, work and play to be attractive, have no vacant/boarded up units and employ high quality trained personnel, it requires investment. This investment comes from local people shopping local. In some UK towns, leakage of comparison goods (Christmas gifts being a good example) is as high as 99%. That means 99p in every £1 spent by local people leaks out of the town into neighbouring cities, supermarkets, out of town retail and internet sites. It doesn’t take a mathematician to workout the long-term impact of this.
4. “Thanks but no thanks”.
Close to 2/3 of adults receive unwanted gifts. This is an eye watering £2.1Bn worth of gifts that are unwanted. Most adults on average receive 2x unwanted gifts each, equating to £43.50. 1:20 throw unwanted gifts away. 1:5 gifts end up in the back of the cupboard. Some are sold for next to nothing on eBay and Gumtree shortly after Christmas. Those bought locally with a receipt or gift receipt will be returned for something the customer actually wants.4, 5
5. It's cheaper online? Is it?
Large online retailers use ‘bots’ to track online prices of their competitors and ensure their products are priced in line with them. Offering a discount will usually result in the competitors following suit and everyone makes less money, so online pricing of hot products is often pretty stable. Brands will also watch online pricing as they don’t like their products being heavily discounted or used as a promotional loss leader. In-store retailers can offer promotions and discounts, that are under the radar. If you like to barter, try and negotiate an extra 10% off a TV on Amazon or Curry’s online. In-store this is a different story, particularly with an independent. They will entertain a discussion and explore bundles or packages to get your business.
6. Talk to the expert.
Many independent and specialist retailers are run by genuine experts and authorities, in contrast to many of the 'bots' and general customer service teams that manage support for web resellers. They know which products are selling well locally, which products get returned faulty, and which you will have to upgrade a year later. They can make sure you get everything you need there and then, and give expert advice on the perfect gift for a loved one. Remember, local businesses don't want to sell you the wrong thing, they want a customer for life.
7. Touch, taste, sound and scent…
…are all things that, as yet, the internet cannot effectively deliver. These are all instinctive aspects of shopping that are sacrificed online. Have you ever ordered a designer garment that looks and feels very inferior when it arrives? Have you bought a gadget or bluetooth speaker that feels light weight and cheap? This is your hard earned money you’re spending. Get it right first time.
Be careful when comparing the short amount of time it takes to order online, with the total amount of time it takes to fulfil this order. UK people will spend an estimated 12 million hours chasing up deliveries. Staying in multiple days to receive delivery and dealing with the aftermath of lost deliveries, incomplete deliveries or products not being as they appeared online. You can also save a lot of time with retailers who will wrap gifts for you. 6
9. Doesn’t everyone shop online?
No, when I deliver workshops on retail best practise I ask what percentage of shopping is done online in the UK. Estimates are as high as 75%. The actual figure is around 13%. 87% of our shopping is done in bricks and mortar stores, for many of the reasons I have highlighted here.
If you could meet all your nutritional needs by taking a pill, or learn the plot or outcome of a movie or book in 30 seconds would you do it? By and large, no. Because we love experiences. Experiences are what shape us as human beings, not the utilitarian actions of simply meeting our needs. Town and City Centres spend big money to create a wonderful festive place for local people to enjoy. Ice skating, Christmas markets, trails and decorations make Christmas shopping an experience. Get some fresh air, mingle with the festive masses and soak up Christmas.
If these are not reasons enough, don’t forget that you will burn significant calories bricks and mortar shopping and minimise the production of more unnecessary shipping cartons.
So by gift buying in bricks and mortar, you can save money, save your local town or city centre, save your gift ending up in the back cupboard and save your soul from missing out on new Christmas experiences and memories.