Home Business Changing Consumer Expectations In An Internet World

Hey, who remembers the good old days when most establishments were closed on Sundays? How about when businesses were closed during most major holidays? Did you run out of hamburger buns for your Fourth of July cookout? Tough break, buddy. The supermarket is closed! It’s the Fourth of July, you Communist! Improvise with some white bread, like the Founding Fathers had to!

Changing Consumer Expectations In An Internet World
In the good old days, stores were closed on holidays. People who held cookouts but weren’t properly stocked were often forced to go bunless.

That was then, this is now. Stores are open Sundays and most holidays now as a matter of routine. Not only are people not surprised at this gradual development, they’ve come to expect it. Nowadays, the Internet has single-handedly escalated consumer expectations for the retail industry. Here’s how.

Holiday? What’s A Holiday?

As hinted above, it’s gotten to the point where a holiday is just pretty much like any other day, only the store staffs usually get time and a half for working. There is still some outrage and pushback when certain chains try to “voluntarily” have people work on the Big Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but even that doesn’t seem to slow down the practice nor quench consumer expectations.

Round The Clock Coverage

Not only should stores be open on holidays, it appears they should also be open at all hours. People no longer let a silly thing like “It’s 10 pm!” stop them from shopping. The Internet is filled with sites like 24hourly.com that facilitate the shopping for goods and services, unfettered by the confines and limitations of that pesky clock.

Remember the old days and rushing to the store, trying to slip in before that sign flipped from “Open” to “Closed”? The Internet never sleeps, and apparently, retail personnel in brick and mortar establishments are supposed to follow suit.

Instant Gratification

As that great wise man Freddy Mercury once sang “I want it all, and I want it now!” The Internet lets you search for a product, find it, click onto the vendor’s site, order it, and have it shipped to you within 24 hours, if you’re willing to pay for that level of shipping.

Now, granted, shopping at an actual retail store means you get your purchase instantly, but that’s assuming that the product in question is in fact in stock. If it’s not, then you have to trudge out to another store and hope your luck is better, or worse, wait until they … GASP!…order it!

An Exact Fit

The Internet has brought with it the ability to search for anything, including being able to enter exacting parameters so that you can find precisely what you want. No need to simply settle for whatever’s available. If you have exacting specifications, you can plug in those parameters, and off you go.

As a real-life example, I had been desperately looking for a particular pair of sunglasses to replace the pair that was wrecked years ago. This is because of the famous Law of Sunglasses, which says that the average lifespan of your sunglasses is inversely proportional to how much you paid for them and like them. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to find the precise design and color, an absolutely perfect match, even though every brick and mortar place I had gone to said that those glasses didn’t exist anymore.

Rapid Checkout

Seriously, who wants to spend eternity in a check-out line with a young couple and their screaming toddler, some deranged-looking man who’s talking to himself, and some clueless individual who’s trying to pay for their purchase in Soviet-era rubles and a coupon that dates back to the Clinton administration?

The Internet has spoiled shoppers. For instance, if you have all of your information stored in an Amazon account, including payment method, you could actually find a book, order it, and pay for it in less than three minutes.

Different Worlds, Different Expectations

While it’s true that brick and mortar establishments are trying to keep up with e-commerce by being more like the latter, there’s only so much they can do. On the consumer’s side, it’s easy to expect retail stores to have the same level of customer convenience as online vendors do. A little tempering of expectations, while dividing one’s shopping between the Internet and real stores, is a recipe for happiness.