Shopping, and distance shopping


[20-03-2022 08:43 AM]

BY Ahmad Y. Majdoubeh

The COVID-19 pandemic, which is about to end soon, has brought with it many lessons: in cleanliness, health, social distancing, work and shopping.

Shopping is our subject here.

We start by saying, with confidence and pride, that our society has excelled since the start of the pandemic in enabling distance shopping to be done easily and efficiently.

Before the pandemic, delivery services did exist, but they were limited, being almost exclusively tied to delivery of quick meals.

With the advent and spread of the pandemic, our society responded promptly by developing, through young entrepreneurial talent, delivery applications which enabled people to shop online or by phone almost everything they wanted, and economically and conveniently so.

Such new means of shopping saved people a lot of time, effort, and expense.

Think about the time consumed and cost involved when we go shopping face-to-face. Often, we use our cars. This means consuming gasoline; it also means wasting a lot of time due to traffic congestion, in addition to searching for parking. A lot of inconvenience and unnecessary forms of consumption are involved in what looks like a simply daily act.

This in addition to psychological trauma, of course.

Resorting to online shopping, and shopping from a distance, spares us a lot of hassle, as well as cost. While sitting comfortably at home, or performing other necessary tasks and chores, we can delegate shopping to several other professional parties to work together to get us what we wish to buy, with no trouble whatsoever, and often at lower costs than getting the items in question directly.

The important question to pose here is: what will be the shape of shopping after the pandemic?

It is crystal clear that for most people it will not be as it was before the pandemic, even though for some who are so attached to old ways it might be the same.

In answering the question more precisely, we wish to suggest that the case of shopping after the pandemic will be exactly like the case of learning, embodied in three distinct forms.

The first is the direct or face-to-face. Just as face-to-face learning will undoubtedly be indispensable for courses the nature of whose outcomes necessitates this form of learning, shopping of certain items might also necessitate direct shopping, such as fruit and vegetables which people wish to hand pick to make sure they get the best quality, shape and degree of ripeness.

The second is online shopping or shopping from a distance. This resembles full online learning for courses whose outcomes necessitate this type of learning and the options and strategies technology makes available which regular classrooms do not and cannot.

Many commodities and shopping items can be bought online or from a distance without the need for the person to hand pick them. Online shopping in fact enables distance shoppers to inspect them electronically and choose the suitable price without having to go physically to the shop or market. These commodities or items include things like rice, detergents, clothes, shoes, sport rackets, meals of all sorts, etc.

The third, which will be the most dominant form exactly as in learning, is blended shopping, the one which combines or “blends” online shopping and direct or face-to-face shopping, each in its own suitable context and each with varying degrees as necessary.

Just as the university student, for example, does not need to attend three weekly meetings face-to-face for a course, taking all the time and trouble to come physically to campus, but needs to attend one or two weekly meetings face-to-face on campus and one or two doing e-learning online, especially asynchronous learning; the same goes for the shopper, who will be doing shopping partly face-to-face when he/she must, and partly online or from a distance most of the time.

Living styles and means of doing things have substantially changed and are fast changing, and so should our response to them.




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