I usually agree with Mike of TechDirt, but the trend he points to here worries me: browsing for what you want to buy offline (i.e. in shops) and then buying online. All well and good if you’re talking about big brick and big mortar department stores, megamalls etc, but what about the small corner store or bookshop? That kind of approach is just going to accelerate the destruction of the small vendor.
CNET quotes a study that “while nearly half of those surveyed use the Internet to look for products and then buy them either in a store or through a catalog, 45 percent are buying online after researching gifts in stores and catalogs”. If everyone did that, there would be no stores to do your research in. For sure, folk are not going to buy something that’s much more expensive, but they should consider the longer term impact of where they buy. As a former bookseller, I know customers don’t think that hard about what life would be like without a bookshop until it’s too late to stop buying their fare at the big mall at the end of the street.