Online Shopping Has Just Turned 20 Years Old. And Wow – How It’s Grown Up

Remember life BPP? (Before Paypal)


by Pandora Sykes |

Internet shopping is now 20 years old. 20! Happy birthday, big guy. It’s been emotional. It’s almost as old as you and me. Internet shopping can drink. It’s also changed immeasurably – and more importantly, so has have our attitudes towards it.

Here’s how:

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Initially, internet shopping was only for the brave and intrepid

‘You bought that “on the web?”’ people would coo, admiringly. ‘I’ll never share my bank details online,’ others would say sagely, not realising that the future would hit them in the face at some point. I bought myself a party frock from eBay nine years ago, for my sixth form ball. It was a blue See by Chloe slip dress and my first ever eBay purchase that had required hours upon hours of meticulous scrolling up and down the same page. Who cares that it turned up two sizes too big and five shades too fake? Which brings me to my next point….

You totally trusted the way in which a product was sold to you

You can see through an online product description like it’s Gisele’s thigh gap. Just because something is described on eBay as 100000% genuwin!!!!! does not mean that it is. As online shopping has gotten older, your trust has been eroded until you’ve become the sceptical motherfucker that you now are.

Once upon a time, you actually couldn’t buy your life online

Perish the actual thought. You’d spend all of Saturday looking for one present or kitchen gadget. Hollah Amazon! Now you can buy a car, a wife and all the coat hangers that you could possibly need online. As an online shopaholic, I buy 90 per cent of my belongings online. It means you get a parcel almost every single day (let’s not talk about having to send it back) and when you buy coat hangers, they come in a parcel shaped like a boomerang, which is really entertaining.

You used to take your wish-listing seriously

When they first came around, we thought online wish-lists were the cleverest things ever. Now they just host the relics of that hungover smash and grab that thankfully never translated into Paypal reality.

Speaking of, you’d have to explain what Paypal was when using it in conversation

A bit like Bitcoins, we thought Paypal was. Imagine if Bitcoins had been around when we were getting our heads around Paypal? Heads would have* rolled.*

Patience has waned almost completley

We used to spend time on the payment process – much like when you shift from foot to foot at the Zara till, you’d be OK carefully signing up to a new retailer. Now you’re receiving 100 newsletters a day and you can’t be arsed to buy anything that comes with more than 4 clicks in order to buy. You’re lazy, but you’re winning.

Your phone was for making calls. How the fuck would you be using it for shopping?

Now, of course, you have a dozen shopping apps on constant refresh. Even a bus journey to work can yield shopping from the comfort of a tiny phone which, let’s be honest, you can barely even see the dress on, let alone know what it’s going to look like on you.

You used to have to pay through the nose for next day delivery

It was very spoilt, that was. You wait your five days, love. Not any more! With retailers like ASOS allowing unlimited Next Day Delivery for just £10 a year, you can keep your nose payment and get a near-instant fix, too.

eBay has become like Marmite

You are either an eBay person, or you are NOT an eBay person. It’s that simple. The Debrief’s news editor explains:

‘I thought I could be an eBay person, but then I realised I couldn’t, after many failed bids. I didn’t fail by losing the bids. I failed in that I won the bids but subsequently realised what bad choices they were.

‘I got into big trouble and taken to eBay court after winning an ugly bag called ‘COOL NEW RAVE BAG NU RAVE SPLATTER WHITE COLOURS’, but refusing to give my address for it to be sent or pay for it. Another time I got into a big argument with a fraudster in Italy who sold me a fake Ralph Lauren polo shirt.

‘Eventually, I realised, I am just not an eBay person. I can do so much other stuff online. I’m hardly a Luddite, but I’ve just realised: I am not that person.’

ASOS was just an acronym for ‘as seen on screen’

And it sold Truffle Shuffle T-shirts that Paris and Nicole wore and props to pimp your house out like Friends. We never thought it would turn into the insane online warehouse that it is today.

Your mum definitely did not shop online

Now your mum spends both her life and pension on Amazon. Last year, not one present came from IRL spending. Less time in shops = more time for Mum to watch Eastenders = happier Mum. Winners all round.

You had to enter your card details every time you shopped

Now if a retailer doesn’t have the option to pay via Paypal, you’re out of there like a cat on a hot tin roof. Take that you Paypal-less fools!

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Follow Pandora on Twitter @pinsykes

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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