I haven't done a lot of Internet shopping, but I know it can be convenient and a real time saver, especially if you know exactly what you want and how much you're willing to pay for it. I also noticed that this year many web merchandisers are offering free shipping, so online prices should be pretty competitive.
Since I seem to be rather behind on my Christmas shopping, I thought maybe I could get back on track by doing some of it online. Silly me.
The first problem I encountered was the enormous amount of time it takes just to find what I'm looking for. There are simply too many sites to check out and each one has literally hundreds of choices.
I found the key is in narrowing my search. For instance if I go to a site like Overstock.com and put in the term "sweaters," I get about two hundred choices. If I narrow it to women's sweaters, I'll still have at least a hundred, but if I include a color, or specify the type, such as cashmere or long-sleeved, I can save myself a lot of clicking and waiting.
Still, it's not a satisfying shopping experience for me. I'm a touchy-feely kind of person. It's hard to know what I'm getting without being able to touch the fabric and check how the garment is made. Somehow it's just not kosher to buy from a picture. I also have issues with color. Is it really going to look the same as the online image? Since it looks completely different depending on which computer I use, how can I know what I'm getting?
Toys are an even bigger problem. It's so hard to picture size from measurements. And how can I know if the sound it makes is cute or annoying, realistic or simply ear-splitting? After half a day of online searching and second guessing, I'm back to in-store shopping, but with a clearer idea of what I'm after and what it should cost.
So, for me at least, online shopping is not as convenient as it's cracked up to be, but it's also not a total waste of time. If it helps me know which merchants have what I'm looking for and who has the best price, that alone can save me a good deal of time and frustration.
I'm just not ready to give up the in-store shopping experience. I want to touch and inspect what I'm buying. I know I'll feel cheated if I'm not there in the store to stumble onto an unadvertised bargain or a gift suggestion I hadn't considered till I saw it.
I'm also not ready to give up enjoying the local mall decorations and the Christmas music and stopping for a hot café mocha in the food court. If the Gen-X crowd wants to do all their shopping online that's fine. But for me, it's just not Christmas till I go ...
"Dashing through the mall, in a one-day buying fray.
O'er the sales we go, spending all the way.
Registers will ring, making funds take flight.
What fun it is to shop and sing a gifting song tonight."
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to shop, the good old fashioned way."