Online Shops

Investigating my shopping habits.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2022-01-05 | update: 2022-01-06

Intro

In recent years I have been trained by my own laziness to buy from the strongest online market provider. Amazon. It happens. At some point you notice it when you compare prices at smaller online shops or even shops in the city centre. In the 90’ there was a great online market where you could buy really good offers. I got a Amiga 500 for $15 on Ebay and was really happy. At some point this online flea market became more and more professional and trained traders changed the range of offers in their favour. This has also happened in the last years with the above mentioned online shop. This shop invited companies that then destroyed the prices.

An example. A new console is released in a certain edition and within seconds the whole market is bought empty. Resellers then buy 20 or more units with buy bot scripts, add their new price and sell it back. If the price is low enough, so that another reseller is persuaded to buy the consoles, the same game starts all over again. At some point, normal buyers have the chance to buy a console for an exaggerated price. This happens in every market, online shop or market for in game products. Before the pandemic I often went to the city centre and compared the prices of individual products.

A can of primer of the brand X costs just in the online shop $13.95. In addition $4,99 for port and shipping. That makes a total price of $18,94. In the shop in the city centre, the spray can costs $9.95. There is a difference of $8,99. In my opinion, that is far too much to buy something lazy online. Maybe you can do that with a rare product, a collector’s edition figure from Asia or something. If it’s an everyday item, I’d rather go back to the city centre. For example, if I buy more than one product, but still can’t get over a certain amount, I pay the postage several times. But let’s come to a concrete example to illustrate these unreal prices.

Touch the Products

I was in a local electronics store today and I noticed something that bothers me about online shopping. I am a very haptic person. I have to touch everything, smell it, and look at it from all sides. Yes, I also smell plastic, metal, etc. I am a little bit strange there. I don’t know. Anyway, I have a lot of problems imagining things. So if I need a certain part for a project I can hardly imagine how it fits into the overall picture. I also can’t estimate and have to measure everything. I always have a meter tape with me. When I am in a store I have my data in my head. So if I can measure different parts in the store, I add up the total sum and have the size of the board. Then I can buy a board in the right size. Online this is not possible because some suppliers give a wrong picture with the photo sizes, so they sell more products. I have never read reviews of articles, because they are all bought or manipulated anyway. I prefer to try them myself and then remember which provider was good. I have to be able to touch products, weigh them in my hand and look at them from all sides. Maybe this will be possible in the future, with VR, AR or something like that, but so far online shopping is really unattractive for me. Only with books I don’t care, because the content is more important to me than the packaging.

And then…came the Pandemic

When I started the article, there was no pandemic. No people who were afraid of getting infected with the deadly Covid-19 Virus in a supermarket. I had the idea to simply get out of the cycle of online Shops. Now I am a part of it. Since February 2020, I have ordered so many products online that I would actually have to rewrite the whole article. But then I could not reflect on the one year that have passed since there was no pandemic. Maybe it’s better if you only order online. But perhaps this is also part of capitalist evolution. If in the future people always go to home office or remote work, is the thought obvious that they also order more? For example, our flat share has agreed to only have cat litter and cat food delivered. That is every time 40 Kg packages and no one wants to drag that from us. Yes, it costs more but since no one has a car from us, none of my roommates want to carry it. We also order more and more food and hygiene items. Everything you need in everyday life and can be delivered easily. Tea, soaps, toothpaste, bath additives and deodorants. Everything you can store. It is strange how a single pandemic can change a persons thinking.

But there are still some points that I have changed. I order less from Asia and prefer to buy locally made products. For example, I have my circuit boards for my prototypes produced by a German manufacturer. Overall, this is even cheaper than five years ago. I also don’t want people to be exploited or paid less because of my products and it’s not so cheap to order online in Asia anyway. This is also something that still bothers me. When I order something from another faraway country, it causes massive Co2 costs. These are costs I do not want to bear. If I order something online and it comes from my own country, it costs less to Transport it. For me and the environment. I just have to make more effort and look for good local products. This is still a little difficult. But I am working on this Problem. Unfortunately, there is still a massive disadvantage when you order something online. It accumulates much more paper, cardboard and plastic. The consumption of raw materials has increased massively. Our garbage cans are already after a week always totally overcrowded. I have already tried out an idea how to reduce this Problem, but I am still in the development phase. Good ideas take time. In any case, I have to take a completely new look at the whole concept of online shops and orders. In many cases, this development cannot be prevented at all.

Less offline Shops

We started ordering cat food and litter for the litter boxes online in February. Once a month the letter carrier has to carry 25Kg up our stairs. After that we ordered non-perishable products. Everything you need for hygiene. We no longer buy soap, garbage bags or sponges from the supermarket. Due to the mutated corona virus, we try to go rl shopping as little as possible. We started ordering lemonades from Amazon, but then unfortunately had a lot of plastic bottles in the kitchen. In Germany, these are deposit bottles with a value of $0.25. Because of Christmas we wanted to have special organic juices and non-alcoholic beer. We ordered them from a very expensive online beverage supplier. However, we can return the empty plastic bottles to this supplier when we order new juices. The online trade cycle is closing and the retail trader is being excluded more and more. We only buy fresh food in the supermarket, because we have not yet found an alternative that is not excessive. Since we buy higher quality drinks, we also consume less. In addition, we hope that the price will still stabilize. And I order all my materials for my projects online at Amazon. This is not a nice development, but our health is more important to us.

Look, we’re nerds. We don’t mind the lockdown because we do everything from home. Of course, this has disadvantages, because we become a more transparent customer if we only order electronically, but the other way around? Will there only be one online store in the future? Or will only certain stores be able to survive. Stores that offer quality instead of a mass product ordered online. Let’s see how this will develop in 2022.

Less Amazon

In recent weeks I have ordered quite a lot from Amazon, which is not always good. There are massive price differences for certain products, for example, if they are currently in high demand. I ordered two packages of the Cadian Infantry Squad from Amazon. Amazon only delivers the packages, but the handling of the products is done by a local company. There was a flyer in the package that drew my attention to the Trading Goblin Gamesworld shop. Since I wanted to order new colours anyway, I kept the flyer. I researched for two days and found that the most Citadel colours are far too expensive on Amazon. In the Citadel Shop, the colours cost €3.60 for Lonbeard Grey, for example. In the Trading Goblin, however, I only pay €3.10. If I order a lot of colours, there is always a price difference of €0.50 and that is too expensive for me. Besides, the Trading Goblin Shop belongs to Protrade Integra GmbH, which also employs people with disabilities or learning difficulties and supports them in their company. So I have two positive points when I order locally from the Goblins. A fair local trader with good prices and a positive social impact. This is the kind of company I want to promote with my orders. I try to buy consciously as much as possible. If I can optimise something, I also like to go a new way.

Current State of Affairs

I hardly order anything from Amzon any more because I have noticed that it makes a big difference at the end of the month if I do a little research and compare the prices. We now have all our drinks delivered by a supplier, which costs us more on average, but we also prefer to buy quality products that don’t get snapped up so quickly. Hygiene products and non-perishable food such as tea, biscuits, chocolate, etc. we order entirely from the online shop of a drugstore. Since October 2020, we have been on the waiting list for an app from a food supplier. So far, we are on position 8213. This may take a while, because the supplier cannot scale his startup as fast as it is actually needed. No one could have expected a pandemic and the rush of new customers that would come with it. When this is all over, we buy very little and can spread our errands over once a week. All in all, we pay more, but we strongly expect that there will be a strong increase in competition this year and that prices will fall as a result.

Online Supermarkt

As I wrote last time in October 2020, my roommates and I had signed up for an online supermarket app. After 8213 people and nine months later, our first order was finally delivered today. We will probably not go shopping ourselves in the future. The delivery is brought by a small electric vehicle from a really friendly supplier and if we want, we can even return old bottles. I was first negatively surprised because we got 11 plastic bags, but they are compostable. This means that we no longer have to buy extra garbage bags for our small garbage cans and the cat litter box. This saves us money and already a little more the environment. Yes, it is a little expensive, but is within reason. The main thing is that I no longer have to go to the crowded supermarket and get angry with unfriendly people. With this we have in 2021 the following point of view. Everything as cat food, consumer goods, beverages and food are only delivered. Technically, we don’t need to go shopping anymore, unless we want to be able to get something special that isn’t available as a delivery.

Online and Offline

Actually, I should have started the following idea from January 2021, but I didn’t start it until the first of October. I kept all receipts and wrote down everything I bought offline or online. My gut told me that I had bought more online, but was that really true? I waited until 01/01/2022 and then added up all the data. Here are the two results:

- Offline   $592.62
- Online    $540.44

I have still bought a lot of offline, although I have firmly resolved to reduce this, because of the pandemic. But there are also interesting numbers, which I want to describe here in more detail. The following categories what I have bought in the offline world in three months.

- Merch and Gaming: $44.90
- Fastfood & Cafe: $27.39
- Dollar Store: $97.83
- Crafting Materials: $19.73 
- Office Materials: $18.36
- Fresh Food: $317.58  
- Kiosk: $8.65
- Electronics: $19.99 
- Hygiene: $38.19

There are a few points I can still say something about. For Merch and Gaming, I bought a Christmas gift this year that I could only order through a special offline retailer from Japan. So that was an exception. Electronics, Crafting and Office Materials I almost only buy (as we’ll see in a moment) only from Amazon because the prices are cheaper there than in the store. Except for the Dollar store, where I still buy a lot for my Kitbash projects. Hygiene: I will also only order online in the future, because my dealer has finally set up an online store with Paypal. A big cost factor is still fresh food. I still spend a lot of money there (even though I already order a lot online). I would like to see more farms and organic stores offering delivery services.

I spend almost nothing on fast food, cafés and kiosks. Because of the pandemic, I have become more cautious. Since I don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol, I’ve gone to a disco, pub or Christmas market exactly 0 times in the last three months (and two years) to spend money. I have also not taken a vacation in two years.

In my online orders I do not have categories but only suppliers. In addition a remark. I have here only my private orders together. Not the cat food, hygiene and household supplies for the students flat.

- only-games.co: $15,90
- Bandcamp.com: $41.73
- Tamiya.com: $14.78
- Amazon.com: $460.83
- Domain: $7.20

Here you can see where the hare is heading. Towards Amazon. I actually order almost everything (which is not food) from retailers that have been integrated into the Amazon universe. Actually, I wanted to buy less there, but very few retailers offer their own online store or do not use Paypal. This will not change in the future, because Amazon is now more interwoven with my own website project. Whether this cooperation will be long-lasting, however, remains to be seen.

I also ordered more from Bandcamp again, because I don’t want small bands and artists to have to work in the office or supermarket. Actually I don’t listen to that much music. I have a lot of respect for artists who decide to earn money with their music to pay their rent. Some musicians only sell their music that way because they have other incomes to keep them afloat. Art and culture are the first two categories that earn less money in a crisis, so I push more into that. In my dream world, no one has to work to live, but only because the person really wants to.

In the next few months, Omicron will be on the rampage in Europe and I will try to go out the door less. Whether this will really have an impact on my online shopping behavior remains to be seen. Overall, however, there is a trend towards online shopping, because it simply saves me more time and stress. I actually only do big purchases now, because shopping in stores is just annoying and exhausting. What I really don’t like about german online stores (if there are any) are two points. I am a Paypal user and read everything in the English language. If these two points are not given, I am much less willing to buy from a German online retailer. If German merchants don’t understand that, I don’t care if they go out of business. The pandemic has made me much more impatient.


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