Online Shopping: From Paperless to Penniless In 5 Minutes
‘Wow, that was fast!’, I said to myself as I shoved my laptop to the side of the bed to finally make my way out of it.
I had just finished reading the buzz-worthy book Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, which prompted me to go online to hunt for my next read. At this stage of the game, the trip to buying things online has become shorter and shorter as time goes by. My experience has taught me that it’s a lot faster to buy something off Amazon than it is to run to the toilet for a quick wee. It’s a song and dance I know all too well, and it’s one I have memorized to perfection with the incentive of a parcel at my front door the next day.
I press the letter ‘A’ and hit enter. It’s as simple as that. My google chrome search bar already knows what ‘A’ stands for as it’s a page I’ve probably already visited about five times in that week allowing the autofill to do its job correctly. First thing I do once on site is go into my ‘saved for later’ section of the website and ponder on whether it’s time for me to do an exchange transaction to get the joy of physical touch of the item which had been waiting for its turn since early March. If I don’t deem it’s imminent for me to have that heart-shaped purple fluffy rug or my favourite Rimmel stay matte liquid lipstick, I then search for what I had my mind set on already. I don’t enjoy trial and error and I definitely do not find returning things that didn’t look like the picture a thrilling experience – too much effort, too little time – and because of that, I always read a few reviews just to be certain at least 75% of people didn’t completely consider their purchase an utter waste of time.
High Neck Sweater: Primark
Surplice Fit and Flare Olive Dress: Forever 21
earings: Lovisa Jewellery
This time, I decided to buy a book I already ‘saved for later’ a few weeks ago and my mind was made up. Proceed to checkout. Use this address. Use this payment method. Buy now.
That was it and then I left the bed.
Essentially, it took me less than 5 minutes to scroll, contemplate and eventually complete the transaction. 5 minutes. Only 5.
It would be completely fine if I did this sort of flash-transaction just to buy books, but you already know that’s not the case. I did that when I got the oval rug I currently have by my bed but I also did it when I got that cute white jewellery holder that looks like a deer with a ton of branches. I pressed buttons to get the bookcases on both sides of my room, as well as the purple coat hanger attached to the door. I did the same to purchase most of the clothes in my wardrobe as well as my laptop on which I’m typing these words.
It’s not the first time I thought ‘Well, that was quick’ after making an impromptu purchase on my phone as it really does baffle me how comfortable, easy and accessible it has become. It blows my mind and yet I keep doing it.
I think I came to the realisation that the whole thing had become just a little too easy when I opened my wardrobe to realise, I had a multicoloured sweater I bought at least six months ago with its tag still on. Now, there may be many different reasons why I never wore that sweater, it being multicoloured probably being one of them, but I can’t find a valid excuse except for the fact that I honestly, truly never needed that sweater at all. Being the organisation freak that I am, I also can’t say I was totally unaware or had forgotten it was there because I had it sorted by colour, hung alongside another one of its kind.
It was in my face the whole time; every morning I’d wake up and stare at it knowing all too well that was not the day it would be let out the dungeon. I’d pick the blue, the green, the pink, the white and red over it – I’d pick anything over it. The rainbow-coloured sweater is just one example of one of the many things I got off the world wide web of which I questioned its usefulness only a few days after my cheerful unboxing. The white skirt in my wardrobe still remains untouched and the fancy makeup mirror with LED lights is now laying in the dark in the middle of a drawer underneath my bed.
I guess it’s because in many ways it doesn’t feel real. It’s not a physical shop you experience by walking around and seeing its ins and outs in person. You don’t get to smell the ‘new’ on each item and you don’t hear the sound of your coins bouncing as they are being tossed into the till box.
In fact, I’d say shopping online removes all the pains of the process of traditionally going out to buy something that we already hate. Firstly, the need to go anywhere disappears instantly, and in today’s world of Netflix and Deliveroo, that can only be seen as a blessing. Then, there’s the fact that you won’t have to stand in a long marching-band-type cue that seems like by the time it’s your turn and the cashier shouts ‘next!’ you could already have finished two episodes of Friends. Also, you’re not met with the awkward encounter when you have to hand your last £50 to the cashier whilst crying internally as you hear it go into the till. There’s no heart-wrenching fear your card is going to come back declined when you hand it over, no running to catch the next bus under the rain with paper bags in your hands.
The reason why it doesn’t feel real to shop online is that only one of our five senses is awake to the whole thing; we can see it in picture, however, we can’t smell the ‘new’ or touch the fluffy writing across the t-shirt, and we most definitely don’t hear our money go down the drain as we keep pouring and pressing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to completely condemn or urge you to stop online shopping and I doubt I’ll be doing that anytime soon. I enjoy a nice new dress or accessory through the post just like the person next door and hearing the knock of any delivery guy does bring a certain kind of smile on my face. Opening the wrapper does make me feel like I’m getting a sort of premature gift. The main catch? I paid for it.
We all want to have nice things and we all like comfort as it keeps us at ease, however, I’m saying we could all (me especially) do it in a smarter way.
Maybe set a budget for futile or unnecessary things, maybe don’t pursue every single discount alert that lights up our phones every other day of the week. Maybe, pause for more than 5 minutes to rethink the whole thing because the truth is unless it’s something you needed or planned out, you’re probably going to keep wearing and using the same things you’ve been for the last two years.
While there might be nothing like receiving a Father Christmas-like package on your door, there is also nothing like the feeling that comes while staring at your bank account statement with wonder and complete confusion of a child who just discovered Father Christmas doesn’t exist (sorry kids!).
Your restless romantic roamer