My grandmother is getting older. A combination of age and the effects of a life spent working hard have bestowed her with arthritis and bad joints. Because of this and other assorted health issues, Gram doesn’t get out a whole lot. She’s fine to take a quick trip to the grocery store for essentials, but even an hour in Wal-Mart or her favorite wholesale shopping club — stocking up for winter supplies — leaves her tired for days. For these reasons, she does most of her shopping by catalog.
I, on the other hand, do most of my bargain hunting online since I don’t live near the big city. Given where I live, I do miss the shopping. I’m three hours from the nearest DSW and Banana Republic, and I don’t have a clue where the closest Sephora might be. While I’ve been better about managing my shopping problem since I moved back to the sticks, there are just some things this girl won’t do without. Thank heavens for the convenience of the Internet!
Both catalog and online shopping have their places. Each satisfies a shopper’s need or desire for products that might not be regionally accessible, or that might be out of stock at a local retailer. Also, both avenues make it possible for sellers to offer a far wider selection of products than they can display in a brick and mortar store. Depending on the needs of the consumer, however, sometimes one option has an edge over the other.
Benefits of Catalog Shopping
- No technical savvy needed. My grandmother has never touched a computer in her life and doesn’t intend to start now. She’s certainly not alone — many seniors feel this way. If you can read and can dial a telephone, you can shop by catalog.
- You can pay by check.Most catalog merchants are willing and able to take check payments. This is perfect for people who may not have a credit or debit card, or who are wary about sending payment information via the Internet. Many online vendors do not offer a check option for those without credit or debit.
- You can shop when it’s convenient for you to make a phone call, within the constraints of the hours of the merchant’s telephone service center.
Benefits of Shopping Online
- You save the environment. Seriously, a lot of trees die every year to make up the annual Sears Wish Book.
- You get a nice “paperless” trail. As soon as you place the order, you get a confirmation which you can conveniently print out, or perhaps, which you can copy and paste into another file and save (to stay with the idea of keeping it green). You also get confirmation e-mails, as long as they aren’t eaten by your spam filter.
- Discounts, discounts, discounts! You aren’t reliant just on coupons or fliers directly from the merchant for savings. Instead, you can check out awesome deal sites and the best coupon sites like RetailMeNot for additional discounts or free shipping offers, or link to etailers through rewards sites like Ebates to earn cash back.
- You can shop anytime! Online shopping allows you great flexibility: you can shop at 3:00 a.m. in your birthday suit, if you so choose.
- You can be surreptitious. Last year I ordered Christmas presents for my husband (and me) while sharing the couch with him. He thought I was playing Bejeweled. Hee hee.
As with most things, there are many means to an end when it comes to shopping. Online shopping allows me to buy from stores that are located far and away from me, while catalog shopping allows my Gram and other less tech-savvy people the convenience and ease of buying anything they want from home. Isn’t it great to have options?