A few weeks ago, I had to find gifts for my friend's baby shower. The ordeal was not easy. Whenever I am out, I am browsing around baby stores looking for gifts. I looked in all kind of stores, from the deluge of baby shops which to seem to infest all shopping malls to the chain stores such as Toys 'R Us and Mothercare, to look for suitable presents.
Like most males of the human race, I am not a happy bunny when the matter comes to this type of shopping. Us men just don't have the same appetite as women for browsing stores or window shopping. Guys will have in mind what they want, find what they want and get the hell out, just like sex. Women will want to take their time, try everything on offer and not give the goods in the end, again just like sex.
Another reason why I don't like to go out to shop is being approached by store staff whenever they try to help me. Having grown up in the UK, I'm not use to customer service of any kind. I like to go in the shop, browse around, find what I want, pay for the items and leave. My situation means stores don't really need staff to man the aisles, all they need is proper self checkouts to work properly - something which is troubling shoppers at UK supermarkets I hear (or read to be more accurate).
The only time I need the assistance of shop staff is to find something I can't see on the shelves or to ask information about a product. When that scenario arises and only if that scenario arises, then I will find a member of staff to help and not before. Please shop staff, don't cry out "Welcome to [insert generic shop name here]!" every time a customers enter the front door. Please shop staff, stop coming up to every browser within talking distance of you to ask "Do you need any help?" when clearly all that person wants to do is to browse. If he or she requires any help at all, they would be capable of asking you when that situation arises. Please shop staff, don't try to intimidate people into buying stuff they don't want - it just makes me want to leave the shop right away and never shop in that establishment again.
Which is why I have resorted more to online shopping. There are a great deal of advantages of using the internet to buy whatever you want.
1. The variety will be much greater. The shop, even chain stores, will not have every item in stock. I have the whole of the internet to find what I want.
2. I can find much more thorough information of the product I want. Not all staff are knowledgeable regarding all the items in their store. With the web, I can find more information and use other tools, such price and product comparison.
3. The hassle is less. Most companies now have free or low cost delivery. Even if it costs a few bob to deliver, you have consider the money you would spend to go out to buy the product, either in public transport or driving your car with added costs in fuel and parking. Also consider the time saved as well.
With that said (or written), this only applies to countries with good online shopping, such as North America, Western Europe and Australasia. The quality of Hong Kong online shopping is not on par, at least in the English speaking side. This is something you wouldn't envisage a developed city.
That is my first problem. Even though sole speaking English people are a minority, I would like to think we have the wallet size to attract businesses to put up a decent English website. That is not the case. The English version of Hong Kong eBay and Yahoo! Auctions are not existent. Same with Broadway electronics, even though it is one of the major electronic/electrical stores in Hong Kong. Thankfully Fortress electronics have a decent online store, although the variety is not that great.
At least the major supermarkets, Wellcome and Park N' Shop, have decent online shopping and delivery. I think any major country should have decent online supermarkets, since grocery shopping is a major part of most people's lives.
From there, the drop is quite steep. I cannot comment on all fields, since I don't have interest in clothes and I haven't got around to buying furniture online. Let's just say I found it really difficult to buy anything online regarding baby gifts. There is a decent amount on basic baby products but when you want to find some specialised baby products, there are few online stores.
The same is with electronic products. I have had to search items individually to find if they are stocked in Hong Kong. I would expect Hong Kong to have a more decent market regarding buying electronic goods online, given that the Hong Kong people are so technologically driven with changing their phones every year. There are a few decent sites in Hong Kong, so people don't have to despair.
The online book buying is decent but not as great as in UK or US. The two major bookstores in Hong Kong - Dymocks and Page One - don't even have an online store. At least have an inventory or a contact details so we can enquire if you have book in store, which Dymocks does to save it from being totally lambasted by me. Even if you don't have an online store, please put a catalogue up so customers can have a browse to see if you stock that product
The last swipe is online digital music. The HMV Hong Kong store is appalling, only being able to download very obscure music. iTunes music doesn't even have a Hong Kong store. I do want to buy singles and not buy albums as I am not an avid music fan, only albums just to get the song I want on it.
Perhaps I'm being harsh. Hong Kong people shop differently compared to US or UK people. Perhaps there are decent online stores in Hong Kong, which I haven't found or are just in Chinese. If anybody has any suggestions, please contact me so I can order as much stuff as I want in the comfort of my pyjamas.