The online shopping landscape has changed during the coronavirus lockdown.
The online shopping landscape has changed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Online shopping world still a mystifying place

The times, they are a changin'.

Online discount site Scoopon used to offer French-inspired boutique escapes on the Tasmanian coast and horseback riding tours on the Mornington Peninsula.

Now in this coronavirus era, their top offerings include a "professional disinfecting service for your office" and "home footwear favourites" with a heavy reliance on Hush Puppies and Crocs.

Similarly, gift site Red Balloon is now featuring "experiences at home" which mostly involve alcohol tasting sessions. What's the point of paying for something I can do every night at home for free?

Over at Groupon, prominent offerings include a "Rexy donor kebab" from Sydney Rd for just $5.90, a pet nail grinder and an electronic blackhead remover with three suction heads.

That's online shopping for you. They know exactly what we want.

During lockdown, we've been shopping online more than ever. Once restrictions are over, it's estimated that one in five physical stores won't ever reopen.

Why would you ever leave the house when people are willing to deliver you a steady supply of tequila, luxury bedding and home waxing kits? According to one study, these are the top three lockdown sellers.

Online shopping used to be the exclusive domain of millennial shadow-dwellers and drunk middle-aged women buying clothes on sale in the wrong size in the hope they'll fit into them one day. (Okay, that might just be me.)

I can't get enough of cyber retail sites, where things are always on sale. They prey on our insecurities, telling us there's "limited time remaining", "900 other people have viewed this today" and "Two other people in your suburb have this in their checkout basket RIGHT NOW".

These shameless ploys always work on me.

I don't need it, but it's on sale. I can't afford it, but I've only got three more hours. I shouldn't get it, but I want it.

As one site tells me, I can always, "Love now, shop now, pay later".

For me it's more like, "Drink now, shop now, broke later."

It doesn't always go well.

My recent purchases include leggings from Nike that took a month to arrive and turned out to be 15cm too long and a bookshelf that had to be self-assembled. This required 250 nails, 58 screws and lots of swear words.

I also bought a pile of cheap summer dresses that were huge, made of sweaty polyester and only marginally looked like the website photos.

I tried for three weeks to get my money back only to be told via email that: "It would be appreciated if you can keep the item and we will offer 30 per cent money refund, which will be better for both of us and more convenience."

Having items that were decent in the first place would be even "more convenience", I can tell you.

This is the downside of buying online.

It can be hard to return things or get your money back if you're not happy.

They tell us: Don't hesitate to contact us (but there's no guarantee we will reply).

They tell us: We'll refund in full when the item arrives back in perfect condition (if the warehouse staff don't nab it first).

They tell us: Guaranteed money back (in vouchers for our site so you can buy more crappy things).

Purchasing under the influence is another trap for online shoppers. Bored Panda tells me drunk regret purchases include a dad-bod beach towel, a lifetime supply of communion wafers and a top for a teenage girl so tiny it wouldn't fit on a cat. "To be fair, it does cover the cat's nipples," the girl's mother posted on Facebook.

Sounds a bit like the "party animal slinky high-leg body suit" which I encountered on the Nasty Gal fashion site.

I don't think journalism was the kind of work they had in mind for that garment.

I finally hit the jackpot when I discovered the Oodie, a much more apt symbol of our times. An Oodie is an oversized blanket hoodie made of sherpa fleece. This turns out to be a fancy name for polyester. Relax, no sherpas died in the making of these garments.

Billed as the "top-rated wearable blanket", it's 2020s answer to the snuggie, a global best-selling fleece blanket with sleeves.

One size fits all, but the Oodie website suggests men who are over six foot tall might want to wear theirs with tracksuit pants.

That's online shopping for you - it's full of information people should really know anyway.

The Oodie folk should throw in a home disinfectant kit and a pair of Hush Puppies and call it a Corona Survival Kit.

I'm sure it will go viral.

MORE OPINION

susan.obrien@news.com.au

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Bad: US President Donald Trump's war on Barack Obama.

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Originally published as Online shopping world still a mystifying place


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