ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY SHOPPING DONE

The age of digital abundance is mired in old fashioned industrial business practices

A few years ago it was easy to buy things on the internet. Remember the story of someone who ordered a curry online, from a London restaurant, and had it shipped to Australia? Then Amazon introduced one-click shopping, and talked about drone delivery within hours.

Then, why is it that manufacturers and retailers think they can still fool us with ten different model numbers for the same product – take phones and cameras for example. Just to give Wal-Mart a price advantage they’ll invent a new model number just for them. If you ever try to compare products across different retailers and countries, then you are on a hiding to nothing.

Competitive differentiation has gone mad and left the consumer worse off. ‘Competition’ seems to have put more obstacles in our way. We’re confronted with a plethora of nonsensical choices, models and variants, but we can never find on Fifth Avenue exactly what we saw in that store at Singapore airport.

Take mobile airtime or data bundles in a foreign country for example. You want to buy it ahead of a trip, so that you’re connected when you land in Europe; but although you can purchase online, it won’t accept your ‘foreign’ credit card – and good luck calling support, it’s all in French.

In today’s flat, fast, furious world there’s a disconnect between global information democracy and shopping reality. We get the latest news and peer reviews about tablets and ultrabooks in exhaustive detail – but have to jump through incredible online hoops to find the specific model that’s exactly what we want – and ships to our home city.

It’s almost like a global conspiracy to restrict certain goods to certain markets. But, these are actually outdated business policies, geographical product segmentation and marketing practices that somehow have survived the digitalization of the world’s markets.

But don’t blame the internet – that merely exposes the poor policies of some brands and manufacturers – even faster than before. They haven’t caught up with the new mobile, global, cosmopolitan consumer, who wants to buy in English in Hong Kong or French in New York, and expects the same respect for her Platinum Visa card online as in the store – after all, most of us are not fraudsters, we’re just people!

So, Dear Santa, please just make my retail therapy much more simple, or is that too much to ask?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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