Social shopping, lessons from a pandemic

2021 is here and with it, a lot of hope for the future, mixed with speculations on how the pandemic will have changed the way we interact with each other. Clearly, what the world has witnessed in the past year, cannot be unseen or ignored.

Many major changes and life adaptations after COVID-19 will be driven by economic interests, such as possible changes in the ratio of time spent working from home, versus from the office. It is likely that other forms of human interaction will prove more prone to revert to their pre-Corona default, because fundamentally, humans are creatures of habit.

For the individual citizen of the world, however, life will likely never be the same. The pandemic has not only changed daily life, it has opened our eyes to the danger of hereto unsuspected developments. Everyday routines around the globe have changed radically, and furthermore, we are now aware that what is happening to us during COVID-19, can happen again. This new sense of vulnerability will certainly have an impact on numerous areas of human activity. If you find yourself watching a clip from Woodstock – happy hippies in a green meadow, swaying to the music – these days, all you can think of is how close those smiling people are standing to each other and why they don’t wear masks. Physical proximity and physical expressions of affection have come to mean something else entirely in the span of a few months.

At the same time, human nature remains unchanged and people are essentially hardwired to need social interaction. “Social interactions are proposed to be a basic human need analogous to other fundamental needs such as food consumption or sleep”. Orben, Tomova, and Blakemore (2020).

Over the past two decades, more and more of our activities have moved online. When, before Corona, it was merely convenient, e-commerce today is also safer, and during imposed lock-downs, the only available avenue. Not only do we still want to, but sometimes, we actually need to shop! It is predicted that it will take years for consumers to regain the confidence to move around unencumbered in brick-and-mortar stores and malls. Online purchases of all different products and services in 2020 were up by 45% globally according to Salesforce, showing that consumers, when faced with an obstacle, move their hunting and gathering to the Internet.
Because of the Internet’s many advantages, trends that started long before Corona will only gather momentum, as possibilities and experiences are streamlined for efficiency and enjoyment.

One way to bridge the gap between our new, well-founded fear of physical exposure, whilst still craving contact with others, is to use social-shopping platforms. Social shopping was developed over a number of years as a way to compensate for one of the online shopping’s major drawbacks, the inability to interact with others, while shopping. It now has the advantage of providing the e-tool necessary to satisfy our basic need to be part of human society. By enabling customers to effortlessly bolster knowledge and confidence by sharing thoughts and ideas with other people as they are making shopping-decisions on-line, Gamitee’s social-shopping platform offers a perfect way both now and in the future to stay social and safe.

“Socializing is a fundamental human need, and social distancing hinders it, which ultimately affects our mental wellness”
(Kevin Sikali, The dangers of social distancing: How COVID‐19 can reshape our social experience, Journal of Community Psychology, 2020)