The Switch to Remote Life

By: Amy Morrison

Since COVID-19 hit, the world has been relying on the use of remote ways of getting groceries, food, and shopping through apps such as DoorDash, Instacart, and Amazon. While the coronavirus has obviously made these services much more necessary for the functionality of the world, they weren’t designed to accommodate the overwhelming demands of COVID-19.

While Amazon has been around since the 1990s and Uber was founded in 2004, most services weren’t founded until the 2010s, like UberEats, Postmates, Doordash, and Instacart. With the new ease and convenience of shopping online, it seems that most people, even before COVID, were using these services in their everyday lives. While the internet has been around for a longer time, the shopping industry truly started to become internet based within the last 10 years. 

The most reasonable and common answer is because it’s convenient. While this is the most widely accepted answer, there are more nuances to it than one might think. According to HuffPost, going grocery shopping can cause many anxiety triggers such as picking which foods one needs, the potential for the self checkout to malfunction, and the risk of being within crowds. But Instacart conveniently bypasses all of these potential triggers, giving people with anxiety a very easy way to do their shopping. Another nuance, according to TotalBusiness, is the ease of “window shopping” online. A study run by EmpathyBroker, showed that only 13% of people in the United Kingdom who shop online know exactly what they’re looking for when they go to shop. When shopping online one can filter for what they want to see without asking a store attendant as well as comfortably search for things and not buy anything without the pressure from the employees.

Another reason for this switch to internet based commerce is speed paired with convenience. In this day and age, consumers expect their shopping desires to be fulfilled even quicker by using the internet. However when looking at the big picture, studies show that may not be the case. When it comes to ordering things online, it feels faster because it’s so much more convenient doing all the shopping on one’s own device. However when it comes to clothes or items, it can take several days or weeks for them to come to one’s door. Depending on where one bought the item from, the overall time for the item to be received may be longer than it would have been to have just gone to the store. On the other hand, if one had gone to the store to get said piece of clothing or item, they would have had to manually look for it in the store which could take a very long time. Comparatively, the speed of online versus in store shopping can only really be determined on a case by case basis.

The effects of online commerce also should probably be considered on a case by case basis. Generally speaking, online shopping is detrimental to consumers and beneficial for online companies. In the age of the internet, many small and large businesses have moved their stock online. For large businesses, this is just another avenue to receive money. For small businesses and subsequently those small businesses’ owners, it is the only avenue to receive money for something they are very passionate about. Putting their business on the internet has opened up a whole new world for many small business owners. For consumers, it’s a very different story. According to Psychology Today and a study published in PLOS One, online shopping can actually lead to a decreased attention span, slower reaction time, and worse concentration.

While it’s clear there are pros and cons to conducting a lot of one’s shopping online, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. In the age of the internet, it’s always good to remember to be mindful of the health of oneself.