Shopping nowadays is a far cry from what it used to be. In the past, if you wanted something you had to go and get it yourself. If it was a specialty item, you either went to a specialty store, or you went without. You might be able to use a mail-order catalog, but if you did, you had to send in a form to the company by mail. Shopping was a thought-out, often time-consuming process because you had to decide where you wanted to go, what you wanted to get, when you would do it, and how. Some items were simply out of reach unless you knew an antiques dealer or a collector of rare items willing to sell. From groceries to electronics and everything in between, shopping was first and foremost your prerogative. You had to get to the store, get the item, and get it home.
That’s not the case today. There are still mail-order catalogs and department stores, specialty stores and antiques dealers, but each has had their market invaded by a powerful competitor- the internet. Just as the World Wide Web has revolutionized entertainment and communication, it has also revolutionized shopping. You don’t have to leave your neighborhood anymore. Items of all shapes and sizes come in the mail, old and new, practical and unique. Even groceries can be delivered to your door at the click of a button. Amazon is working on one-hour shipping for its products. This is certainly not the kind of shopping people knew twenty or even ten years ago.
So, how do coupons fit into this new shopping order? The answer, in my case, is that they don’t. True, I greatly appreciate discounts and will use promo codes whenever they are provided. If I see something I want on sale, my attention is all yours. But am I seeking out and using coupons? No, that is not my style. There are several reasons, a few of which relate to the internet. The first one is that the prices on the web are often competitive enough for me to not worry about discounts. After all, I can find a rare Super Mario Pez dispenser from the 90s for $8.00, a new iPod Shuffle for $39.00, and have my own digital photos developed and shipped to me for a fraction of what it costs with in- store developers. With prices like that, I’m already getting a good deal without worrying about lowering the price further. The second reason is that I don’t like sorting through physical coupons. Perhaps I’m impatient, but when I’m shopping for something, I like to be able to pinpoint what I’m looking for almost instantly. Online shopping sites find exactly what I ask for the very first time nine tries out of ten. Newspapers, with nine pages of ads and seven pages of coupons, don’t, and they look scattered to boot. I’m not interested in spending time looking for coupons for a certain product. Besides, if I do find an applicable coupon, it’s at a certain store, usually one I don’t shop at anyway. Regardless of what retailers’ coupon policies may say about accepting competitor coupons, I’m not going to try to get a Walmart employee to process my Fred Meyer’s twenty percent off coupon. It takes too much time, and I might get a nasty look. It’s not worth it to me. Even digital coupons aren’t very effective. If I do find them, they often don’t work. Instead, they just sit on coupon sites taking up space and wasting my time when and if I do try them. In essence, the only time I use a coupon is if it’s provided by the seller and I know without heavy research that it will apply to my purchase.
A note from us at I’m In: Enjoy the best discount offers for your choice of online stores, too!
I believe coupons had a place, but today’s shopping has become so multi-faceted and coupons haven’t really kept up. Scattered throughout physical and digital mediums, they don’t help me achieve my goals when shopping online, so I simply ignore them. Weighing the cost from an economic standpoint, I lose more time trying to use them, often with little financial benefit, than I do if I simply buy what I want at discount stores and online. That’s why I don’t use coupons very often. and why they have virtually no impact on my purchasing decisions.