A Christmas shopping story

I may be an Internet professional, but i don’t think I’m that much of a freak when it comes to my shopping process.

About this time last year we (my siblings and I) discussed buying our mother a digital photo frame. In the end we put that thought on ice and got her something else instead. But Christmas, like a tax return, comes around every year, and so did the idea of a photo frame.

As far as I’m aware, I have had no exposure to any marketing of digital photograph frames, perhaps I’ve read or skimmed by something in T3 or Stuff magazine – but even so, no particular product has “stuck”.

Price comparison sites

My first step was to head straight straight to my favourite price comparison site (This is currently the excellent Swedish site Prisjakt) and located the product category for digital photo frames. Once there, I had a quick look through the listed products to get a feel for the price range and general specifications.

The next step was to narrow down the search results. I worked out features we (including my mum) would need for the frame. Clicked some buttons, checked some boxes and quite quickly there were just two products left (that were in stock and matched requirements).

Armed with two product names, I started hunting for detailed reviews, which didn’t take long at all. I took the time to read quite a sizeable portion of the reviews, building my own opinion, working out if the various features really would deliver what they promised.

Once I’d finished with the main detailed reviews, I took myself a little deeper and read some of the customer reviews where they pointed out (what appear to be) real experiences – with both negative and positive comments.

By this point, I’d pretty much narrowed the choice down to just one, at the same time realising that neither of them are “perfect” but that in the price range I’d decided, “perfect” was unobtainable.

Visiting a physical store

Now I’m getting very close to the end of my purchasing process, in fact in a lot of situations I would have clicked buttons and made a purchase at this point, but this time I wanted to touch and see the frame I’d decided to buy. So I visited a physical electrical store in order to confirm a few last details (namely that it can be switched to English – I’m buying it in Sweden) and that the display and build quality are acceptable.

Finally, it’s back home and straight to an online store in order to buy it for 25% cheaper that I’ve just seen it for in the physical electrical store.

Stunning change

This purchasing process has undergone a stunning change in a very short space of time. The traditional product launches and time-limited campaigns aren’t enough. From a B2C perspective; Branding, reviews, recommendations, and logistics (to make sure it works to order online) are what count. The manufacturers’ web sites? Surplus to requirements.