An online world: finally accepting the e-commerce way of life
I crossed an invisible, digital line this week when I did something I thought I never would: I bought shoes online. And I have to say, I enjoyed it!
Soon after moving to China a few years ago, I took what felt like a huge leap by getting accustomed to many of the benefits of online purchase — things I never had the need or desire to do back home.
Ordering takeout, buying bits and bobs on Taobao or Yihaodian, and even sending virtual gifts — which, of course, cost real money — to interesting or funny zhubo (online live streaming hosts).
But I drew a line in the sand — okay, it was just another imaginary line — and decided early on that buying clothes or shoes online without holding them and touching them and trying them first would be a journey too far.
I’ve noticed myself getting lazier and lazier when it comes to shopping lately. Actually, I don’t know if it’s fair to say it’s “lazy” — it might be more accurate to say that I’ve started to really appreciate convenience and the saving of time.
It all started when I decided that buying five cartons of UHT New Zealand milk and carting them home from the supermarket was too much. That’s when I found that I could buy a box with 24, 1-liter cartons on Yihaodian and have them delivered to my door for less than going out and getting some much-needed exercise.
Then I started to seek an even higher level of convenience. Need some dish-washing liquid? Buy it online. Razor’s blunt? Buy some new ones online.
After that it got worse, and I started literally browsing through pages and pages of random products and just trying them out for the sake of it. (You can do that in China, since most things are well-priced, and delivery is fast and cheap.)
It got to the point where nearly every day I was getting tiny deliveries that I would normally pop into the supermarket to pick up after work or on my lunch break.
Such is life in one of the world’s most populated and connected cities.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I ran into a huge dilemma. Shoe stores from Hongkou to People’s Square to Wujiaochang, I realized, don’t stock shoes big enough.
I knew my size 47 feet were big, but I didn’t know they were that big. I got “laughed at” by salespeople whenever that rather large number slipped from my lips.
Since the Internet offers everything, including a place to moan, I turned to my WeChat and Bilibili friends to vent. And there was one main recommendation, one which I initially scoffed at: Buy them online.
“They sell skyscrapers and 747s on Taobao,” a friend reminded me. “So of course someone is going to have shoes for your monster feet.” Umm …
After a few more pointless trips to shoe stores (I considered becoming a comedian), I did the impossible: I ordered a pair of shoes on Taobao.
Just a few days later, a box arrived and I gulped, letting out a huge sigh. They would be hideous or too big or too small or nothing like the photo online.
You know what? I was pleasantly surprised! They looked good, felt good and were much cheaper than the ones you find in stores.
Sure, they didn’t fit, but I sent them back and two days later received a fresh-new pair one size bigger.
“Next time just order three pairs of different sizes and send two pairs back,” another friend suggested. It sounds greedy, but I like that idea.
The longer I live in China, the more I’m in awe of how much time can be saved by fully utilizing e-commerce. I mean, I don’t want to become like those blobs on Wall-E who sat in loungers all day staring at screens, but a little convenience here and there can’t hurt, right?
I’m genuinely excited to see which e-commerce wall I’ll climb over after this. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find some jeans for my long monster legs next!