Do you recall how your great-great-grandfather shopped for the family? In order to reach the nearest ‘general store’, he would hitch up his team of horses to the family’s large wagon and then traverse the prairie for a day or so. Once there, the family enjoyed a memorable outing. The store carried everything from candy for children to a ready-made dress for the mother. If the store did not have a particular unique item, the catalog was always an option.
After the turn of the century (1900, not 2000), a number of significant changes began to affect family shopping. America started to expand upwards and outwards, at least to the oceans. The automobile then made its grand entrance. Now, the family could reach the convenience store much more quickly. This allowed mother to make more trips in less time, which she adored.
However, a seedling of change was observed within the stores themselves. Population growth resulted in more stores and a greater variety of markets. The general store started to fall apart. Specialty shops began to appear. Department stores, pharmacies, movie theaters, etc. A large number of cottage industries began to emerge. True, the big boys were still present and growing in size. Sears Roebuck & Co., J.C. Penny, and others remained on top, selling via their ever-present catalogs.
As our nation expanded during World War II, it became more advanced. The small town grew into a city. This gave rise to the idea of a “town square.” Typically, the large stores were located on opposite sides of the square, with small specialty shops filling in the spaces. Typically, these types of cities served as the county seat, so a courthouse and government office building would be present. During this time period, another significant development gained prominence. With the establishment of the County Library, access to information expanded.
As the 1960s progressed, the automobile presented an unanticipated nightmare problem for family shopping. Traffic and parking began to choke the concept of the city square. Undoubtedly, everyone still desired to shop, though typically at the same time. On the downtown streets of the town square, it was nearly impossible to locate a parking meter.
As usual, American ingenuity prevailed. We prioritized parking and dubbed the area a suburban shopping mall. Now there were acres of free parking in the center of which were shops. The next significant development was air conditioning the entire shopping mall. What can be disliked? The major players remained on opposite ends of the shopping mall. Now there was unlimited space for the specialty shops to expand. Even better, everything was walkable. The only remaining item was the food court. Now, shopping with the family was in heaven.
In the coming decades, we will develop this concept into an art form by refining and honing it. During that time, the government introduced a system that was not understood or utilized, but was given the name “internet.” Then what? Nothing occurred for quite some time. Then the subsequent remarkable invention occurred. The mouse (computer) started to wiggle. Do you not realize that a computer without a mouse is a black box? Together, they constitute the Personal Computer.
The innumerable minds of computer nerds and geeks began to squeak and rumble somewhere in the eternal scheme of things. The Internet and the personal computer joined forces. While that is a worthwhile discussion in its own right, it is far too extensive for our purposes, and it would be irresponsible of us to ignore it. Only a few decades ago, in the mid-1990s, did this even occur. It is essential to comprehend this in order to concentrate on the rapidity of current events when discussing internet online shopping. In the period between 1994 and 1995, a company called Netscape introduced a commercial web browser. It initiated a complete revolution. About 1996 is when Microsoft finally figured it out and unleashed their Internet Explorer. The race had begun.
Internet-based functional software development was the other side of the story. Initially, file transfer was the only thing we could figure out for the internet (FTP). Someone then realized that if we could read from the Internet, why not write to it? Incredible concept! Websites began to proliferate everywhere.
We started to see a genuine information superhighway. Any business could advertise its global presence with minimal effort. The web browser could now communicate with a company’s database. Obviously, it was only a matter of seconds before the website could actually sell products. The effect of this was absolutely monumental. Purchasing was altering course. Internet shopping was now referred to as online shopping. The birth of family online shopping.
It is now nearly impossible to keep up with Internet online shopping from day to day. However, what goes around comes around; technologically speaking, we have returned to the 1950s. The major players still have their massive websites. Now, however, small specialty ishops are filling in the gaps. They can almost compete directly with the large corporations. There are numerous online shopping malls on the web. Online home shopping and even online discount shopping are expanding exponentially every day.
As is always the case, new complications have arisen and require resolution. On the internet, there are literally millions of websites to be found or, in most cases, not to be found. This has resulted in the explosion of Internet marketing, a cottage industry characterized by its rapid growth. Search engines, Pay-Per-Click (PPC), website content, etc. are now crucial components of a website.
During an online shopping spree, which we will refer to as a shopping search, it is not uncommon to receive several thousand website results. To truly shop, you must navigate through one website at a time until you find what you’re looking for. This results in the practice of word surfing.
The solutions to these issues are emerging in the form of comprehensive online shopping mall websites that offer categories ranging from online discount shopping to online clothing shopping. The website is responsible and bears the burden of filtering and selecting merchants based on the topic of the website.
Internet online shopping specialty ishops are the next cutting-edge innovation that will emerge. This is where a “mini website” focuses on a very specific topic. Such as “Women’s Plus Size Clothing Specialty iShop” or “Family Scrapbooking Specialty iShop.” Soon, the number of online specialty shops will be innumerable. Importantly, this type of website contains only merchants specializing in this specific niche. This places all the major merchants and many of the competitive smaller online shopping websites within a customer’s reach with a single click. It drastically reduces the time spent browsing each retailer’s website.
Similar to the shopping mall of yore, the specialty online shopping website will have a library, i.e. the information superhighway, news links, ebooks, and fresh content articles, as well as whatever else is required to maintain a holistic family shopping environment.
Then the next step in online shopping for the family will be…