Do you remember how great great grandfather did the family shopping? He would hook up his team of horses to the big wagon put in the family and trudge off across the prairie for a day or so to get to the nearest ‘general store’. Once there it was a great outing for the family. The store had everything needed from children’s store bought candy to mother’s ready made dress. If the store did not have that certain special item there was always the option of the catalog.
After the turn of the century (1900 not 2000) a couple of remarkable changes occurred that begin to alter family shopping. America began to grow up and out – at least to the oceans. And the automobile made its auspicious entrance. Now the family could get to the general store much faster. Mother loved that, she could make more trips is a shorter time.
There was, however, an embryo of change being observed in the stores themselves. The increase in populations made for more stores and a wider variety of markets. The general store began to break up. ‘Specialty’ stores began to emerge. Dress shops, drug stores, movie theaters etc. A whole group of cottage industries began to make an entrance. It is true the big boys were still ever present and getting bigger. Sears Roebuck and Co, J. C. Penny, and others were still on top, still selling through the ever present catalogs.
As our country grew through World War II it became more sophisticated. The little village grew into a city. This resulted in the concept of a ‘town square’. The big stores were usually on opposite sides of the square with the little specialty shops filling in the gaps. Usually these types of cities were the county seat so you would have a court house and a government office building. There was something else of importance that came into prominence through this period. Access to information began to grow with the appearance of the County Library.
As we moved into the 1960s the automobile presented a nightmare problem to family shopping that was totally unexpected. Traffic and Parking began to choke the city square concept. It is certain everyone still wanted to shop, but usually at the same time. It was near impossible to find a parking meter on the down town streets in the town square.
American ingenuity, as usual, prevailed. We made parking the priority item and called it all a ‘suburban shopping mall’. Now there were acres of free parking with the shops in the middle. The next major evolution was to air condition the whole shopping mall. What’s not to like? The big guys where still at opposite ends of the shopping mall. Now there was unlimited space for expansion of the specialty shops. Even better, it was all accessible on foot. Only thing left was the food court. Now family shopping had moved to heaven.
We refined and sharpen this concept to an art form over the next few decades. Some where during that period of time the government slipped in a not understood or utilized system which took the handle of the ‘internet’. So what? Nothing happened for a long time. Then the next stunning invention occurred. The mouse (computer) began to wiggle around. Do you not understand that without the mouse the computer is a black box? Put them together and we have the Personal Computer.
Somewhere in the eternal scheme of things the infinite minds of the computer geeks and nerds began to squeak and rumble. A marriage of the internet and personal computer took place. While that is a worthwhile discourse in its own right far too large for our purposes we would be remiss to pass it by without comment. It was only a few years back, in the mid 1990s that this even occurred. This is important to understand to be able to focus of the rapidity of current events, speaking of the internet online shopping. It was about 1994/95 time period that a company called Netscape came along with their commercial internet browser. It started an absolute revolution. It is not until about 1996 that Microsoft finally figured it out and came roaring down the road with their internet explorer. The race was on.
The other side of the story was the functional software development on the internet. In the beginning the only thing we could figure out for the internet was file transfer (FTP). Then it dawned on someone that if we could read from the internet why not write to the internet. Incredible concept! Websites began popping up all over the place.
We began to see a true information highway. Any company could advertise it presence throughout the world with minimal effort. The internet browser now could interact with a company’s data base. Of course, it was just a heart beat away until the website could actually sell products. The impact of this was absolutely profound. Shopping was changing course. It was now being called internet online shopping. Family online shopping was born.
Internet online shopping is now moving so fast it is near impossible to keep up from day to day. However, what goes around comes around; we are right back to the 1950s, electronically speaking. The big boys still have their big websites. But now the little specialty ishops are filling in the blanks. They can compete directly with the big companies-almost. There are online shopping malls all over the internet. Home shopping online, even discount shopping online is growing non-linearly everyday
There are now, as there always are, another set of complications that have risen with need to be addressed. There are literally millions of websites on the internet to be found or in most cases NOT to be found. This has caused the mushrooming of another incredibly fast most moving cottage industry in the form of Internet Marketing. Search engines, Pay Per Click (PPC), Website Content etc. are all now very critical to a website.
When you search during an online shopping spree, for our purposes a shopping search, it is not uncommon to get back several thousand websites. In order to truly shop you must go through one website at a time until you can find that for which you are looking. This gives rise to the word surfing.
The solutions for these problems are emerging in the form of holistic online shopping mall websites that provide categories from discount shopping online to online clothes shopping to surf through. The website bears the burden and responsibility of filtering and selecting appropriate merchants based on the subject of the website.
The next cutting edge development emerging is the ‘internet online shopping specialty ishops’. That is where a very narrow subject is the focus of a ‘mini website’. For example, a ‘Women’s Plus Size Clothing Specialty iShop’ or a ‘Family Scrapbooking Specialty iShop’. The list for online shopping specialty ishops will soon be endless. The important factor here is this type of website contains only merchants for that very specific specialty. That places all the major merchants plus many of the competitive smaller online shopping website within one click of the customer. It greatly curtails the endless surfing through each merchant website.
One last point, much like the shopping mall of old the specialty online shopping website will have the library, i.e., information highway, news links, ebooks, fresh content articles and what ever else is required to maintain a holistic family shopping environment at you finger tips.