Interesting reading this week about the future of shopping and the retail industry in general – the days of popping into a shop to be greeted by a friendly face and making a purchase are coming to an end.
The future of the high street is bars, cafés, social hangouts and places to pop into to pick up/try on your online acquisitions.
The browsing and buying will happen from your computer or hand-held device.
You simply click, order and collect – supermarkets already employ these systems.
Effectively the high street will be a series of giant warehouses, not unlike Argos... except with better pens.
But what about the personal touch, customer service, that warm ingratiating smile and welcome as the little bell rang as you walked through the door?
Remember the glory days when a shop owner would know your name and would ask after your family?
As convenient as online shopping can be, supporting our local economy is necessary for survival.
After all it’s cheaper and easier to click a button and have a pair of shoes delivered to your door.
However, you’re lining the pockets of sharp-minded entrepreneurs in Albertville or Albania instead of Albert Road, Southsea.
This week I needed to buy some equipment for my road bike.
My considerable and increasing mass creates a lot of wear and tear, thus requiring regular replacements.
I’d bought the kit from my local bike shop.
But I then needed to return it after it failed to live up to its promise.
What happened when I took it back? The lifeless, snivelling, gibbering shop assistant retorted ‘...not my problem mate, that’s just the way it is, you’ve just got to deal with it.’
I wasn’t genuinely expecting a full or partial refund, but some recognition that there was an issue and maybe (although maybe I’m a fool for suggesting) some sympathy or an apology?
That little doorbell rang for the final time as I exited the shop – heading home to buy the replacement from a more understanding retailer in Chengdu.