The Times They Are a-Changin’
The inexorable advance of technology is changing the world in which we live.
Large, widespread changes generally happen slowly and incrementally; look back years later and only then do you take in just how different things are. But the pace of progress is speeding up, and one of the most visible and widely discussed changes concerns our buying behaviour: how we shop, where we shop and when we shop.
A decade or so ago the concept of buying a bathroom suite or a kitchen sink online would have resulted in a raised eyebrow or two. Traditionally sold in showrooms up and down the country, these big-ticket fragile items don’t immediately lend themselves to online retail for various reasons.
But two things have been happening in tandem. First, it’s easier than ever to get a feel for a product without seeing it up close. Better product imagery; improved screens to see them on; 360-degree photos; video content; customer reviews; the inevitable and approaching normalisation of virtual and augmented reality – all of these factors combine to break down those traditional barriers.
But it’s not just technology that is contributing. So too is our own behaviour. We are becoming used to immediacy and convenience. Why should we traipse around a shop between the hours of 9am and 5pm on a weekday if it’s not convenient? Why do we need to suffer through the tired patter of the salesperson?
Don’t get us wrong – there are many good showrooms, and many good salespeople. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach in retail. Some people still wouldn’t dream of buying a bathroom suite online. But equally many others find the choice, transparency and convenience rather appealing.
On the Internet, we’re not constrained by the limitations of space. We can create a virtual showroom with everyone’s favourites inside. Maybe our customer wants to see a page with all the possible countertop basins, filtered to show only the very colours that she is after; filtered once more to show the perfect sizes. Precise, targeted navigation for those who know what they’re looking for. Tailored, expert service for those who don’t.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
― Barack Obama