Online shopping myths debunked
(IDG) -- I admit it...I'm a poor holiday shopper. I typically wait until the very last second of the very last minute of the very last day (that would be December 24, 11:59:59 p.m.) before I even THINK about going to the mall.
Why, you ask? Perhaps it has something to do with spending too much time at work. Or perhaps it has something to do with hating all those lines at the register. Or perhaps it has something to do with the Internet industry, which we all seem to belong to these days.
Fortunately, I'm not alone. Many other high-tech gurus also find themselves scrambling on that last day wondering what to get their loved ones for the holiday. Luckily we see our own technology come to our rescue in the form of online shopping!
We used to have to face the crowded storefronts of the mall, now we have the ability to browse at our leisure through the many fine online establishments in search of that perfect gift. In fact, a quick informal poll (done with the aid of a few spy-like friends in other high-tech firms) has indicated a marked increase in the usage of the office Internet connection for the purposes of buying those little holiday trinkets.
Let's assume for a moment that this type of activity is acceptable to your firm (it should be strictly limited to after-hours). There are probably some general guidelines you should pass on to your employees to keep them happy during their holiday shopping experience.
If they are shopping online after hours, it means they won't be leaving the office for "long lunches" to fight the lines at the mall, which means they will have more time to toil away in their little cubicles to make more money for management. More money means an increase in shareholder value which in turn will result in bigger bonuses and free jet planes for management, etc.
So in the holiday spirit, here are five "Internet Myths." Feel free to post these on the office bulletin board:
Myth #1: You can buy anything on the Internet.
Reality: You can buy most things on the Internet, but you can't buy everything. This is important to note because far too many people spend far too much time plugged into search engines seeking that one merchant that offers "Smokey Mountain Fur-Lined Long Underwear" at a discount price. [Editor's Note: We didn't find any fur-lined underwear, either, but we found plenty of catalogs with plain ol' long underwear.]
Myth #2: Giving your credit card number over the Internet is foolish.
Reality: This is no more foolish than giving your number to somebody over the phone or through the mail. It is certainly no more foolish than giving your credit card to a waiter who mysteriously vanishes with your card for five minutes, hiding in some back room location with a phone. Internet security is very good these days and the chances of somebody (other than the person you are giving your number to) stealing your card is extremely slim.
Myth #3: Online shopping is faster.
Reality: Sorry folks, this is just wishful thinking. Just think of all those overloaded Web servers as folks from everywhere around the world start searching the "Bill and Monica Gift Shop" site for that oh-so-special gift. This increased holiday traffic congests the access lines to these servers - so be prepared for long lines. Or should I say queues. Personally, I'd prefer standing in line at the Toys "backward R" Us. A queue offers nothing to watch but an annoying spinning browser logo, while a line at least lets you watch the carnage as those around you fight over the last remaining Kenny doll (until the head pops off and everyone in line shouts "Oh my God! They Killed Kenny!") [Editor here, again: Of course, you could buy a Kenny doll online.]
Myth #4: The Internet is instant.
Reality: This is a big NEGATIVE folks. While it is true that the Internet is "instant" in terms of your ability to place an order online, the term instant is not something that I would associate with the shipping. I've seen unbelievable shipping delays from some of these online sites.
Myth #5: You can count on your Internet merchant to back up their sale.
Reality: Unless you are shopping an "established" site (like a Land's End or CD-Now) you need to be very careful. It doesn't take very much at all to set up a storefront, offer a few items for sale and then disappear with the credit card profits.
With that in mind, I'm off to the mall!
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