Thus Shopped Zarasustra

9:51:00 PM

Recently, Zarathustra came out of his cave, had a sudden shiver run down his spine; he yawned, and in the last hurrah of his expiration, he sighed, saying: "Circuit City is dead."

Shopping is at last in the hands of the people, he thought; no longer a dictum of the mega-conglomerate Gods, but dictated and shaped by the terrestrials: the user, the blogger, the five-starred volunteer reviewer.

And so, with this thought, Zarathustra walked down from his aerie towards the nearest village to spread the good news that commerce was now in their hands, and that by their own hands they destroyed the monolith of hegemony. Individuality was restored, he thought, and though the products - the manna - that the Gods of commerce would continue to shower on their target demographic with nifty electronics, at last, the marketing rested in the hands of an individual's personal story - their experience in the form of a review.

At last, he thought, shopping and trade were now the responsibility of the people and the villages, and he hastened to tell them of it.

The first villager he encountered scuttled out of a shopping frenzy of 30-percent off 30-percent that would make city pigeons lusty with envy that they no longer held the scavenging title for a while.

And when Zarathustra approached him, the feverish-eyed villager rushed passed carrying an oblonged box under his arm and looking like he had just gotten away with murder. He was hastening to stash his eBay auction before anyone noticed it was in his possession.

Zarathustra spoke: "Good man, what haveth you under your arm?"

The villager smiled with pride. "I just got the HP TouchSmart IQ816 for next to the price of dirt. You oughtta run to Circuit City before they run out."

"Are they going to forget how to make them, or will computers or even electricity to power them disappear," Zarathustra asked mildly.

"No, but Circuit City's gonna run out of them."


The villager frowned. "After that, dummy, we'll have to wait for Best Buy to liquidate before you can get your brand new wares at close-out. And if that happens, then you'll just be buying direct from manufacturers and distributors. No more playing with them in-store and getting the best deal online."

"Or buying them slightly used on eBay or reconditioned from the manufacturer," added Zarathustra.


"So what are you going to do with that one under your arm?"

"I'm going to flip it by posting it to eBay. Make a few bucks off of it."

Zarathustra began to get glassy-eyed and his soliloquy waxed with pathos. He began to unravel for the man the UberShopper - the one that buys direct from the manufacturer or from an outlet or from another, fellow villager for the best deal; and that the purchase is informed by his fellows who have used the product and his fellows who have reviewed the merchant. He unraveled the phenomena of price-at-cost of materials, labor, and delivery without the problems of overhead and marketing campaigns. He began to unravel the issue of The Long Tail, but he cut his soliloquy short because the villager walked away frustrated that this dude was saying nonsense, and he was forgetting, by the distraction, the description he had planned for his eBay posting.

Zarathustra watched the villager walk off huffing and puffing in dismay, and considered his discourse in a different way.
* * *
When Zarathustra arrived at the village marketplace, he set a soap box at its center, stood up on it boldly, and began his amended soliloquy again:

"For verily, the product will be judged in blogs and product reviews, and the UberShopper will, at no charge, review their wares and household goods without thought of recompense but for the betterment of the village; And therefore the circuit of commerce will be complete and the niche UberShopper will prosper and gain glory despite the absence of remuneration for their efforts. They will be, by the God's of Commerce and the villager's election beyond the throes of the marketplace, but held and supported in high esteem by the tribe."

Shortly after Zarathustra's discourse, he was run out of town by the villagers. While his talk had amassed a sizable audience near his soapbox, the villagers assailed him with questions, asking, "If I begin a niche product review, will I be able to put more bread than I'm used to on the table, and will I be speaking through a Palm Pre while driving a Bentley?"

They asked again to a faltering Zarathustra: "Can I make this into a telecommuting job as in using Mechanical Turk to buy my groceries?"

When Zarathustra began to unravel the pains of transition with such things as Turking or crowdsourcing and the nature of commerce and paradigm shifts, he was hustled out of town with rocks thrown at him at every step of his gait towards the Appian Way.

My friends, he wrote at last with spray paint on the tiles of the Appian Way after he had been run out of every town - almost crucified at times - the good news is this: "Your tribulations in scarcity are almost at an end. Your only task is to give indiscriminately, and trust that you and your kin will be provided for. To that end, exert the virtue that comes with service to your fellow villagers, and your efforts will be redeemed in the hallowed halls of the Forum. The time for shopping, trade and commerce to be loosed of the shackles of scarcity have come, and the time of the UberShopper is now."

His spray paint was cleaned off long before it got read, but the sheen of the tiles in the fluorescent light still reveal his testament - for better or for worse.


It’s Buy Time: Where Blogs Sit in the Purchase Cycle

According to the study, blogs factor in to critical stages of the purchase process, weighing most heavily at the actual moment of a purchase decision. When it comes to respondents who said they have trusted blog content for purchase decisions in the past, over half (52 percent) say blogs played a role in the critical moment they decided to move forward with a purchase.
Blog readers also replied around blogs’ influence as it relates to the following steps of the purchase process:

• Decide on a product or service: 21 percent
• Refine choices: 19 percent
• Get support and answers: 19 percent
• Discover products and services: 17 percent
• Assure: 14 percent
• Inspire a purchase: 13 percent
• Execute a purchase: 7 percent

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