Home shopping in the United States

Date of publication: June 15, 1989

Author: Helen Katz


Shopping in the past 150 years has moved from the town square to main street to the mall and, now, to television and computers. Unlike earlier forms of shopping at home (catalogs, direct mail)j today the process is interactive and almost instantaneous. Home shopping's success is related to three societal factors: the increased number of women in the workforce; the continued growth of credit; and the electronic era in which we live. Earlier research suggests that home shoppers tend to be more educated and affluent than average shoppers, be more venturesome and place a high value on convenience. Indeed, savings in time and money are two of the key benefits such services offer. In addition, several of the home shopping networks on cable television see themselves as entertainment services, with special features or guest presenters. Despite their very real success, however, some problems remain. The retailer must work hard to fulfil orders speedily and efficiently. Any difficulties in billing or delivery are likely to deter customers from buying this way a second time. The cable networks face high costs for satellite usage and also have to fight for desirable slots in the cable channel line-up. Then, the technological sophistication of the newer services may put off some consumers who fear change and dislike the notion of buying goods sight unseen. The fully interactive home shopping services need to ensure that items can be viewed properly and that the decision making process is flexible. Nevertheless, since most of the problems home shopping currently faces in the U.S. are either technological or psychological, it seems likely that as we move towards the twenty-first century, home shopping will become a standard feature of society. Home shopping is a reality that is here to stay.

Helen Katz


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