Do you feel like a new shopper? No? Rightly so. You and I have been exchanging currency for commodities since we tossed a dime on a drugstore counter for a piece of Bazooka bubble gum. (Has anything tasted that sweet to our mouths, since?)
Yet we are new shoppers - new to the way we now shop. There's no more kicking the tires or squeezing the melons or sniffing the flowers before we buy, and sometimes never. The internet, mobile devices and social networking have changed our shopping game - there is research to do, reviews to read, blogs to tweet, don't ya know - until cars and clothes and commodities that once had shape, form and smell are sucked dry of their kinesthetic properties and into the viral portal, reconstituted and spit back out in clean, smooth digital particles, easily digestible by our Blackberry and credit card.
If there's a person involved in the process we almost certainly will never see them. Sure, we have some obscure sense that somebody, somewhere is designing the software and running the web sites and writing the blogs and filling our orders. But where are the people? Really?
Aye, tis the rub. For even as the process has become more roboticized, we continue to search for, lust for, crave more of the human part of ourselves. Thus we are the new shoppers - same as the old shoppers. What we want - love, happiness - and why we want it - security, fulfillment - is as old as our time on Earth, even as what the Earth has to offer us is more digitized and distanced from our flesh than ever.
When a local McDonald's installed a pre-recorded voice at the drive-thru that cheerfully says "WELCOME TO MCDONALDS! WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY OUR NEW CAFE LATTE?" because they thought it would sound more "human" than having the human at the window do it, I stopped going. When scientists attempt to raise baby monkeys by using animatronic "moms" covered in monkey hair, the babies die. Tweeting can't shake your hand, blogging can't smile at you. Only humans can. And as the monkeys in the cage, we humans - we shoppers - want fed, watered and loved, and the only way to do that is still as old as we've been around - looking us in the eye, smiling at us, hearing what we want, telling us you've got it, shaking our hand and thanking us for shopping with you. Anything short of that will never be so powerful.
Business owners, we're still the same old shopper, in spite of the new ways we have to shop. So remember to show us you love us, really love us.
We'll love you right back by coming back - the ultimate retweet.
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