• 2010: the year of online shopping

    Posted December 22, 2010 at 1:53 am by Alexandra    

    online shoppingHow good is this online shopping caper? I’ve barely entered a shopping centre this Christmas, after knocking off presents for all three godchildren and two nephews in one fell swoop at a single online retailer (thank you, Peter Alexander!).

    I bought Mum a hard to find perfume from a US distributor – something I couldn’t have found in a normal retail store in Australia. And various brothers got magazine subscriptions, again ordered online. Let’s hope the Productivity Commission doesn’t spoil the fun by making us pay GST on overseas online purchases.

    Everything I ordered online was delivered pronto – with email updates about the precise point where my merchandise was in the supply chain between the time I placed the order and it being delivered.

    Granted, Peter Alexander was out of stock of quite a large number of sizes when I placed my order – but because the range is so big if they were out of stock in, say, a boys size two in one line, that size was in stock in another line. It sure beats schlepping around the shops on a hot December day when I’d rather be at the beach.

    And when I discovered I’d ordered the wrong sizes for two of my godchildren, returning items of the wrong sizes should have been as simple as a trip to the local post office to post them back. Except I couldn’t find the receipt. Which brings me to my next point.

    How good is eBay? Devotees of this online shopping platform will be familiar with the expression BNWT – for the uninitiated this is eBay code for items that are ‘brand new with tags’. Which is what I had in my possession, thanks to the fact I bought the wrong sizes.

    As I couldn’t return the PJs to Peter Alexander without the receipt I decided to list them on eBay. They fetched almost as much as I paid for them when I ordered them through the website, which I reckon is fair given I probably deserve a penalty for being stupid enough to lose the receipt.

    While we’re on the subject of Christmas presents, how do you know when to stop? In our family, we have the concept of your main present and then what we call ‘secondaries’ – smaller presents we buy, well, I guess we buy them to keep the economy ticking along. Joking! I guess we buy them because we’ve found something extra we think a parent/sibling/significant other can’t do without. Oh, alright. We give them because one present just doesn’t seem enough.

    I know a lot of people do the Kris Kringle thing if they have a big family, each person buying something large for only one member of the family, usually with that person’s input so they get something they actually want. I guess that’s a good idea, but it would never cut it in my family because it takes all the fun out of Christmas. As does just giving people money to buy something of their choice. We’ve made that mistake a few times and it’s always a real let down.

    On Christmas Day we generally open each present one by one, which works for us because we all put a lot of thought into what we get the other members of our family and opening gifts one by one means each present, and each present giver, gets due attention. Which is as it should be because it’s so rewarding knowing you’ve given something to someone that they actually like.

    But my best experience this year involves someone I do some work for from time to time. This client is a genuinely lovely guy who always includes me in all his office events, which is so thoughtful given I’m a freelancer and work on my own. I really wanted to get him something nice and mentioned this to my Mum. She suggested I have a chat to her boss, a wine buff.

    Mum’s boss was stoked to help me choose a nice wine for my client – in Mum’s words “he’s on a mission, like a kid in a candy shop.” And not only did Mum’s boss offer to help me select the wine, he also volunteered to pick up the wine for me. If you ask me, that’s the true spirit of Christmas – great gift ideas packaged with a big favour. And once again, I didn’t have to brave the Christmas crowds to get the perfect present. So far, this Chrissy is shaping up to be a beauty.

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