In modern days customer focus is more transferred towards online shopping; worldwide people order products from different regions and online retailers deliver their products to their homes, offices or wherever they want. The B2C (business to consumer) process has made it easy for consumers to select any product online from a retailer's website and have it delivered to the consumer within no time. The consumer does not need to consume his energy by going out to the stores and saves his time and cost of travelling.
The shopping experience may vary, based on a variety of factors including how the customer is treated, convenience, the type of goods being purchased, and mood.
The shopping experience can also be influenced by other shoppers. For example, research from a field experiment found that male and female shoppers who were accidentally touched from behind by other shoppers left a store earlier than people who had not been touched and evaluated brands more negatively, resulting in the Accidental Interpersonal Touch effect.
According to a 2000 report, in the U.S. state of New York, women purchase 80% of all consumer goods and influence 80% of health-care decisions.
In ancient Greece, the agora served as a marketplace where merchants kept stalls or shops to sell their goods. Ancient Rome utilized a similar marketplace known as the forum. For example, there was Trajan's Market with tabernae that served as retailing units.
Shopping lists are known to have been used by Romans, as one was discovered near Hadrian's wall dated back to 75125 CE written for a soldier.
Fairs and markets were established to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. People would shop for goods at a weekly market in nearby towns.
The modern phenomenon of shopping is closely linked to the emergence of the consumer society in the 18th century. Over the course of the two centuries from 1600 onwards, the purchasing power of the average Englishman steadily rose. Sugar consumption doubled in the first half of the 18th century and the availability of a wide range of luxury goods, including tea and cotton saw a sustained increase.
Marketplaces dating back to the Middle Ages, expanded as shopping centres, such as the New Exchange, opened in 1609 by Robert Cecil in the Strand. Shops started to become important as places for Londoners to meet and socialise and became popular destinations alongside the theatre. Restoration London also saw the growth of luxury buildings as advertisements for social position with speculative architects like Nicholas Barbon and Lionel Cranfield.
Much pamphleteering of the time was devoted to justifying conspicuous consumption and private vice for luxury goods for the greater public good. This then scandalous line of thought caused great controversy with the publication of Bernard Mandeville's influential work Fable of the Bees in 1714, in which he argued that a country's prosperity ultimately lay in the self-interest of the consumer.
These trends were vastly accelerated in the 18th century, as rising prosperity and social mobility increased the number of people with disposable income for consumption. Important shifts included the marketing of goods for individuals as opposed to items for the household, and the new status of goods as status symbols, related to changes in fashion and desired for aesthetic appeal, as opposed to just their utility. The pottery inventor and entrepreneur, Josiah Wedgewood, pioneered the use of marketing techniques to influence and manipulate the direction of the prevailing tastes.
As the century wore on a tremendous variety of goods and manufactures were steadily made available for the urban middle and upper classes. This growth in consumption led to the rise of 'shopping' - a proliferation of retail shops selling particular goods and the acceptance of shopping as a cultural activity in its own right. Specific streets and districts became devoted to retail, including the Strand and Picadilly in London.
The first display windows in shops were installed in the late 18th century in London. Retailer Francis Place was one of the first to experiment with this new retailing method at his tailoring establishment in Charing Cross, where he fitted the shop-front with large plate glass windows. Although this was condemned by many, he defended his practice in his memoirs, claiming that he:
sold from the window more goods...than paid journeymen's wages and the expenses of housekeeping.
Retailers designed attractive shop fronts to entice patronage, using bright lights, advertisements and attractively arranged goods. The goods on offer were in a constant state of change, due to the frenetic change in fashions. A foreign visitor thought that London was "A world of gold and silver plate, then pearls and gems shedding their dazzling lustre, home manufactures of the most exquisite taste, an ocean of rings, watches, chains, bracelets, perfumes, ready-dresses, ribbons, lace, bonnets, and fruits from all the zones of the habitable world".