Terry R. Hiller wrote an article titled "Going Shopping in the 1990s" for the December, 1983 issue of The Futurist magazine. Mr. Hiller was understandably skeptical of the prospect of electronic shopping. However, many of the things he asserted would not come to pass did indeed happen.
An excerpt appears below, along with graphics from the piece.
Nor is electronic retailing equipped to deal with the logistics of delivery. Product information, selection, and billing can all be transmitted electronically, but physical merchandise must be physically moved. Today's mail-order houses depend on federal or private package delivery, services that are simply not structured for the huge traffic increases that large-scale teleshopping would generate. It would require not only the total restructuring of existing routes and systems, but an investment of billions of dollars in equipment and personnel - resources we are simply unable to spare either now or in the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, since teleshoppers can only view products piecemeal, electronic marketing has severe drawbacks as a retailing device. In nine square feet of drugstore shelf space, you might easily encounter as many as 80 or more different brands and sizes of cold remedies. But in electronic marketing, shelf space is defined as time- the number of second an item appears on the screen. Allowing even 10 seconds per item, it would take more than 13 minutes to show that same 80 items. Add to this the cost of production, handling, and shipping, and we begin to suspect that the "convenience" of electronic marketing will be very expensive. Unless we are prepared to sacrifice variety - and therefore competition - some products will never be purchased "in absentia."