By JIM N. TAYLOR, Special to the Star
The 2018-19 shopping year recorded 51% online shopping (OS) in preference to in-store shopping for the first time since OS began.
Almost any personal or family buying being done today can either be done online or can be assisted in some way by a computer or online program of some kind. The growth of OS was sped into first place by incorporating this application into telephones as hand-held computers. This growth is abetted by the provision of discounts applications by phone or computer exclusively to those who shop online.
Thieves follow money, so, the increase in identity theft and OS related crimes pushes increasing investment by phone and computer manufacturers in crime prevention technology or security, the goal being maximum security with minimum inconvenience – no easy task, as hackers/ perps’ tactics evolve with security changes.
Amazon, now a giant company, seeks to incorporate an unlimited number of items for OS sale, while investing heavily in artificial intelligence or mechanization of warehousing, retrieval, orders or sales processing and delivery all as one automated operation, which can be easily initiatedby phone or computer from any location connected to any US landmass.
Almost any household or personal item is already available through Amazon. And any company manufacturing or selling such classifications of items is now either a supplier of Amazon or becoming their competitor.
Walmart saw the potential of online marketing years ago and are playing catchup with online Amazon, while Amazon is adding store and warehouse sites from an advantageous position in online marketing technology.
Whatever is to be made for sale or is to be sold must find an online pathway to its buyer, in a comfortable transaction, or find itself at a disadvantage.
The resulting changes to be expected in marketing and shopping activities must be seen as a positive development which should reduce the amount of paved parking areas, streets to get there, the clutter of buildings, the size and number of malls and locations required to supply the American population.
In-person, in-store purchases will soon become confined to those items and services that cannot otherwise be practically transacted.
Parcel delivery activities could become so competitive and creative that Postal Service as we have known it may become obsolete.
Why do we want OS technology?
Certainly, reduced personal movement and shopping time of the consumer should reduce the total energy consumption used in shopping and create additional useful or leisure time. But efficiency and comfort are not our only self-interests sought in OS.
We fortunately abandoned rural areas to food/fiber production so that we could live in beneficial city proximity to enhance the division of labor benefit of a society and/or easily associate with others when we so desire; but we desire privacy more than we thought.
The actual interaction between humans requires effort – effort to avoid conflict, ensure a pleasant exchange, and to entice possibly needed future association.
We avoid making these efforts through impersonal online transactions that exclude the presence of others. We realize that we need to live near others, just in case of emergency or a desire to associate; but we avoid unnecessary human interaction that we do not specifically choose for that purpose.
We only want to actually interact with a neighbor when absolutely necessary. Otherwise, we keep to our gadgets like TVs, cell phones and computers. Laziness is a normal attribute.
Jim N. Taylor is a longtime Harlingen resident who regularly writes to and is published in the Valley Morning Star.