Method and Madness: This Is How I Shop

It probably wouldn’t be fair to say that I dislike shopping. It’s probably a little more accurate to say that I dislike shopping (and “browsing”) in the real world. Allow me to explain.

There are many people out there who enjoy going to the mall. They go without any real purpose in mind; the goal is simply to peruse the aisles and see if there is anything that catches their eye. I’m not one of those people. Even when it comes to the madness of Boxing Day, I’m not terribly interested in just browsing.

I need a purpose. I need a goal.

That’s where it starts. I start with an objective in mind of what I want to buy. The directionless meandering strategy for shopping is not for me, though it can sometimes become the byproduct of the shopping experience. That isn’t terrible, so long as I still have a central purpose in mind. For instance, I may be looking for a collared shirt, but if I happen to find a nice pair of jeans along the way, that’s fine too.

But I need more than that. This doesn’t apply quite as much when it comes to clothing, but for anything that can be researched and price-compared online, I’m probably going to spend some time on the Internet. This is true of furniture, home electronics, or anything of that sort. This is why it’s so important that store (and brand) websites have the information that I desire: specific styles, model numbers, specs, prices, and so forth.

I may or may not set my mind on a particular style or model number, but the research will lend itself to that. When I get to a physical store, I have some background knowledge that can serve as a benchmark. If Store A sells product Y for this price, I have a better chance of understanding whether product Z at Store B is comparable (and worth it). I want that frame of reference.

Depending on what it is, I can spend quite a bit of time humming and hawing over the potential purchase of a product. This can seem wasteful, especially when the savings are minimal, but I much prefer doing that from the comfort of my computer chair than in the awkward settings of a retail store. When I get to the store, I head straight to my target product, pick it up, and head to the cashier.

And that’s fundamentally how I prefer to shop. There is some method to the madness, but I also allow myself to get a little distracted along the way too. What about you? Are you more of the “grazing” type of shopper or do you take a more direct, in-and-out kind of approach?

The inspiration for today’s post comes by way of Darren Barefoot, who suggested a number of topics some years back. This is effectively my response to suggestion #7.