Circular Economy & Online Shopping versus the High Street. 

Well, we hear it a lot lately. And quite right too!

But what is the circular economy? I hear so many mixed views. From one extreme that “its like communism, a nice idea but doesn’t really
work!” to a far more positive attitude that we simply need to go back to appreciate what we had. We reused stuff, we repaired stuff, and we valued the resource.

So what’s changed? Progress maybe, we’ve developed technologies that have meant its easier to produce things cheaper, and life is so busy we want convenience. Not to mention the health issues, and protecting products to increase freshness and shelf life. Well, that’s what some people want us to believe anyway.

This weekend something happened that really got me thinking. That I promote reduce, reuse, and certainly bother my family about why we do what we do. However then the mind has a funny way of playing tricks on us consumers…

Anyway, I bought myself a watch in December. Nothing fancy, a watch to wear everyday. So that my nice one can be saved for best, and out live me. Yep, that’s how it should be with a good watch. Like we used to do, we passed them on to our kids.

But here I was, looking for a bargain, so that I wouldn’t worry about the family heirloom. So off I went, well, not very far to be honest.  My internal debate about online shopping vs the high street is ongoing still, but on this occasion I had vouchers to spend.  Well, its progress right? Unfortunate for the high street, but that’s life they say. It’s consumer driven apparently.

Anyway, I finally found what I was after. Until 3 weeks later it stopped, well fast forwarded actually. Not a problem for said online seller, all I had to do was return it with a free post label at the click of a button. Just another virtual, pleasant, shopping experience. Easy.

So, within 2 days I’d got a brand new watch. Same model, after all, it looked legit, and had one great review so what could go wrong?

Anyway, 1 week later its gone Basil Faulty. Now, as Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over, expecting different results. That bloke knows a thing or two, so I went for… A new model. Same make though. It had a movement by a very well known brand. What could go wrong? …..

Three days later. Snap. Now granted, the dog was giving me a high 5 at the time, and caught it. But a Chiwawa would have snapped it. I tried in vain to be positive, like it was designed like that. What if I was deep sea diving up to the 30m limit specified, and got snagged on a ship-wreck.

When reality hit home, off I went back for another dose of virtual retail therapy. Only this time my waste radar is going nuts.  What about  packaging, let alone my time. Not to mention where are all these watches going!

So, I went with an email. Offering to do something I’d not done for years. To replace, the strap. All they needed to do to give me a wonderful experience would be to credit me £13.00 virtual pounds, and I’d sort it myself. Easy. Well, you’d think so anyway. But no, “compta said no!” We can’t do that. Its a 3rd party seller. So I call.

Undeterred, thinking a person on the phone will see reason. But alas, after 20 mins, two holds to consult with a senior member of the team, it was not to be. By now the money is already back in my account. AND, a complimentary £5.00  gift voucher to spend on my next purchase. As long as it’s not a watch strap I assumed!

So, here I am. No longer out of pocket. But with a watch, pending a return to the dreaded returns department.  A watch,  just crying out for a new strap.

But in all seriousness what a waste, and who’s covering the cost? Who’s paying for all this waste? Well it’s not them is it? Some may say it is the tax savings, or even the fact they don’t pay rent/rates like the high street. But still, all in the name of a pleasant experience? Or is it just too easy, and cheaper?

And what about the high street retailers in all this? Would my experience have been better with them? Probably, I would have had to leave the house, but that would have been good, soon to be nostalgic, and I’d have met a real person.

And what about the waste too? Maybe not being able to afford this waste means, well, less waste! That’s got to be good. We can’t surely sustain this throw away attitude.  And why wait until a real shopping experience is obsolete, only to reinvent it again in the future because suddenly it is cool. Just look at how vinyl records have made a comeback.

Don’t get me wrong, online has its place. But surely it is about balance. And why do we have to let things become obsolete before we decide they were pretty good after all?

And as for Einstein, he knew his stuff. But I think I’ve found a better definition of insanity!

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