By Nick Antonaccio
Remember when the internet was a novelty? That new site, Amazon, had just gained widespread popularity for selling and shipping books to your doorstep, at a 30 percent discount. Now, Amazon has embedded itself in the very psyche of conducting our lives.
If I think back to the “good old days,” before there was Amazon Prime and others of its ilk, before Apple became the ultimate enabler in 2007 of managing our lives according to their business model, I remember the tactile nature of a shopping experience, when we wore out our shoe leather, not our keyboard or keypad buttons.
At the breakneck speed with which the internet has consumed our lives, who can predict what lies ahead. A short 12 years after the introduction of the iPhone, a Yogi Berra quote seems prescient: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
When I apply this smartphone phenomenon to my personal life, I reminisce of the meaning of commerce before the ubiquitous and all-consuming stranglehold of today’s technology.
Here’s my singular perspective:
- Shop local? The plaintive call to support our neighborhood establishments becomes more difficult each year. Increasingly, we have no reasonable choice but to use our keypads, rather than our shoe leather, to wend our way through our shopping chores.
- Use of our smartphones has been evolving. How many of us use the telephone feature as our primary contact with the outside world? Our “smartdevices” have created new alternatives to communicate with each other. While I’ve evolved from telephone to e-mail to texting as my primary mode of communication, today’s young generation has leapfrogged past me, relying more and more on Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and several select platforms I’ve never heard of.
- Dine at your favorite restaurant with friends and family? No need to do so in 2019. The online prepared-food industry penetration into our lives is rising at an astonishing rate. In the past, it was simple: pull that dog-eared menu from the kitchen drawer, call your local eatery, wait 20 minutes, then drive to pick up your order.
Here’s today’s gamechanger: bookmark your list of favorite restaurants on your device, order directly from their clickable menu and then select a home delivery app option. A few clicks and your favorite food is digitally processed and delivered to your door.
- It wasn’t so long ago that our primary source for purchasing wines was our local retail shop. More and more I see this buying pattern transitioning to a virtual experience. A few of the numerous alternative resources available include:
- a) Wine apps that offer you curated offerings available with a simple “purchase” click.
- b) A plethora of online wine clubs offering their suggested selections, delivered to your door automatically every month or quarter. Just provide your credit card and you will be constantly stocked with the club’s favorite wines.
- c) Flash sale sites continue to proliferate. How can you turn down an offer to order a highly-rated wine (typically, the site’s unilateral rating) at a significant reduction in price (according to the site’s unconfirmed statistics)? In case you forget to check in daily on the site’s offerings, they e-mail you a friendly reminder of their daily specials. If you are judicious, these sites can be a fine source of worthy wines. If you are able to be judicious.
- d) Direct-to-consumer sales are on the rise, as are the offerings. In the old days, the only outlet for many small producers was direct sales to consumers. The rub was the high cost of shipping. Today, that barrier has been significantly reduced. Consumers have the opportunity to enjoy a fine Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from a small producer of less than 100 cases at a price, including shipping, that allows the producer to compete with wines available in other consumer channels. And that’s outside of the Amazon Prime network.
I’m still a holdout for the physical interaction of securing my purchase, when possible. I prefer shoe heel clicks rather than mouse clicks. Join me in stemming the tide of digital dominance.
Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sharingwine.