Window Shopping, Anyone?
Perhaps, you have heard one of your friends saying, ‘Tara, window shopping tayo!’ (C’mon, let’s window shop!) We keep on hearing the phrase, but did you ever stop and think how ‘window shopping’ came into being? This article will tell you what you ought to know about window shopping in any malls in Manila or elsewhere for that matter.
Origin of window shopping
It was in the late 19th century when window displays evolved into becoming a central feature of modern consumerism. Window displays presented a variety of new products, much more like art exhibits. Such scenario led to the establishment of a new form of strolling and gazing we now call window shopping. The term ‘window shopping’ was first used in 1904.
The pioneers were department stores that are considered as the symbol of modern consumerism. The first few adapters were companies belonging in the textile industry. However, it was only during at night that the full effects of these ‘stages of the world goods’ were realized. In achieving the right ‘shop appeal,’ the department stores hired decorators. The goal was making window displays more aesthetically appealing and not just ‘pile displays’ where goods are mass stock for passers-by to see.
During those times, window shopping was not only regarded as a consumer practice. It is also synonymous to ‘being in the city’ mainly because department stores lined the busy streets of the big cities. Window shopping became an opportunity for women to move around the public minus a chaperone especially in Germany.
Unfortunately, the reactions were mixed. Church representatives criticized the ubiquity of commerce. Nationalistic movements also disparaged that it only disfigured the city’s character through ‘epidemic advertising.’
Definition of window shopping
From its origin and nature, the Oxford Dictionaries define window shopping as an activity of browsing goods displayed on windows without any intent of buying anything. Nonetheless, some window shoppers examine and evaluate goods for a later purchase.
Window shopping may involve only one store or go from booth to booth (on flea markets) and store to store. People do it on urbanized areas since these locations have streets lined with various shops; much like what it was in the 19th century.
For some people, it is a recreational activity wherein the ‘shopper’ leisurely strolls the place without time constraints. Some say that window shopping is the favorite pastime of New Yorkers. On the other hand, some window shoppers use it to gather inspiration and information regarding the current trends.
Window shopping in the digital world
Today, window shopping occurs virtually, going from one website to another to look for sales. True enough, e-commerce stores are never closed, so market participation is more accessible. Online shoppers can easily compare brands and prices and bookmark their choices. Merchandise browsing is more appealing to people with limited mobility and those who are housebound.
Retailers understand the convenience of browsing goods online. They invest heavily on e-commerce development. Some even prioritize having a separate mobile version of their e-stores since more people are becoming mobile-first users. Further, there are companies that exist digitally (with no physical stores) so users have no other choice but to window shop online.
There is another concept that is worth mentioning: showrooming. Showrooming is the practice wherein the shopper examines the merchandise on a physical store then browses online to look for the same product and at a much lower price.
Interestingly, in 2012, Adidas piloted a digital window shopping experience for its newly launched product that targets the young. There’s a touchscreen that enables the onlookers to see what’s inside the shop without getting inside it. They browse the products through the touchscreen and try the products on life-size models. The idea is to sync smartphone and windows using a simple PIN, interlinking the mobile with the real-time world shopping experience.
The digital storefront gained 90% of the streets attention with 25% of which decided to enter the store afterwards. The experimental campaign ran for six weeks in a small city in Germany with a total population of 510,000.
From the looks of it, window shopping has been ingrained in our brand-loving brain. It will only take new forms, but the main concept behind it will remain for the years to come albeit becoming digital.
Sources: WienMuseum.at | WiseGEEK
Image credits: TaylorEmpireAirways.com | FineArtAmerica.com | TheGuardian.com | NewDealFeri.org | Occasional Perspicacity | Retail-Innovation.com