There, I said it. I know that you’ve already computed my age as being somewhere between ‘old’ and ‘ancient’ and you’re already bracing yourself for a trip down memory lane. I’m ok with my age, and this isn’t a post about how things were better back in the day. Also, you should also know that I have spent 35+ years in a career working with technology, so I am familiar with things like computers, iPads and the Internet.
One of the benefits of that career, or perhaps it’s a work-related injury of sorts is that I understand the details of technology. I understand the differences between analog and digital forms, and I
know think know where digital still pales by comparison. First, let’s give digital its due.
Digital shopping works, but I would add that digital buying works much better than digital shopping. Digital buying works better than analog buying in some cases:
A few weeks ago, I was in a department store shopping for casual pants. Of all the colors and styles available, only the standard khaki-colored variety was available in the size (38×34) and style (flat front, no cuff, cuz who wants cuffs on casual pants?) A saleswoman asked if I found everything I was looking for and I explained that I had not. She said: “I can order anything you want on-line and have it shipped to you for the in-store price.”
You would think that sending a truckload of pants to the store would be cheaper than sending one pair of pants to me, but I guess not. I also guess that it won’t be long before the department store closes.
Digital shopping has everything in stock. Digital shopping can save me a trip to the mall. But, digital shopping can’t let me try those pants on; you know to see if the 38 in the 38×34 is still a good number or if the 34 puts those cuff-less legs dangerously high above my shoes. Yes, I know that technology exists/is right around the corner where I can upload a picture of me and my measurements and spin myself around in those new pants. However, I won’t be able to feel the tug on my waist. Actually, my wife points out that I’m no longer wearing my pants at my waist or that my waist is no longer where it’s supposed to be, so the measurements I upload won’t be helpful to the algorithm-driven mannequin. Anyway, I’m off track. That’s in-person shopping, I was talking about catalogs.
I love catalogs because, like real books, they encourage my imagination. Digital screens require too much of my attention to let me imagine anything. I’m fighting pop-ups, paging forward and back, taking screen-shots or making a list in Evernote to keep track of the things I like. I’d rather lie on the couch, browsing from page-to-page thinking about what might be. Imagining what I could do with a tool, how a piece of furniture would feel or discovering that something heretofore unknown to me really does exist.
Fortunately, the people selling the stuff I most want to browse in a catalog are still sending me catalogs. Those would be tool suppliers and to be honest, they are sending those catalogs to my wife. She’s been buying me tools for a long time. She was buying from catalogs when the ‘mail’ in ‘mail-order’ still meant “to call on the phone” so she has the relationships with these companies.
I want those companies to continue sending
me her catalogs, so I treat them with the respect that they deserve. If I see something in a catalog that I want, I buy it from that company. I do NOT pull out my iPad to see if that item is cheaper on Amazon. That’s not right!
Amazon wants to forever strip me of the thrill of leafing through a catalog. Amazon wants to study all the information they’ve collected about me so that they can anticipate my next purchase with precision, offer it to me “just in time” and fly it to my house by drone. That may sound like the Jetson’s to some folks but check it out, it’s not. See (if you watched the video) when Jane (his wife) leaves the flying car, she is heading to a Shopping Center.
She’s also apparently planning to pay for her purchase with cash…sigh. I get it, we couldn’t imagine the world of Internet shopping back in the 60’s. But that doesn’t mean that every old way of doing business is antiquated.
Some things got to be old because they still work!
OK, I suspect that my editor has either passed out or is checking the yard for Pods. No honey, it’s really me. It’s true, I favor the “new and improved” version of just about anything, but not when it comes at the expense of what
was is a better experience. Catalogs are better than websites.