As the festive season draws closer I was talking to someone in retail the other day about how eCommerce has forever changed the retail landscape and the way people today go about shopping.

We both agreed that it's been one of the key innovations that's come from the early days of the internet and has upended many a laggard in the retail sector around the world.

I've been involved in eCommerce since the very early days, and during that time I've seen a lot of brands come and go, along with a whole new set of companies geared up to service the sector.  

The conversation got me thinking about whether or not eCommerce along with other 'distance shopping' initiatives has unintentionally made us become distant with our customers?.

The whole industry spends most of its time obsessing about ways to get customers to the eCommerce website, ensuring that the onsite journey is easy, and hoping that journey turns into a commercial sale. So much so that most websites (mobile and Apps) try and automate everything in order they can reduce any real human interaction which in turn can keep cost down, but is it at the cost of commoditizing a void between real human interaction without the building a relationship?.

Mail order is a 100+ year old industry, and the basis of every eCommerce business is founded along the same principles that's known as 'distance shopping'.

Back in the day if we didn't shop via mail order we had little choice other than to go to a physical retail outlet to make that purchase, and we took for granted the experiential aspect of those visits. 

There was something tangible and comforting about breathing in the store environment, especially at Christmas, we could see other customers, hear what they were looking to buy, or listen to questions being posed to the store staff, and hear the excitement in children's voices at the thought of getting 'that present'. 

We tapped into all our senses and let's be honest it wasn't that bad.

For many people it was a full day out which might have included treats for the kids, or a lunch appointment with friends.

If you're going to visit a 'Christmas Market' this year you will know what I mean.

With the huge growth in eCommerce I think we've subconsciously become disconnected from the customer, every bit of evidence suggest that whilst brands obsess about getting us to the site and then to the checkout in a friction-less manner they've forgotten to 'listen'. Its all very 'functional', it's bland, it's solitary, and it's managed to isolate brand and customer.

As we've slowly forgotten to 'listen' I believe we have managed to disconnect ourselves from the social aspect of shopping that became so enjoyable back in the day. 

Listening is where we learn things that we might never have known, and social media is the place we can all go to to engage in conversations, create conversations, and learn how to listen. 

What do you think, nostalgic nonsense, or relatable?