x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 October 2017

Speedy delivery services take the magic out of the wait

The magic of the wait has been replaced by impatience and instant gratification

Remember these days? There was a time when it took weeks to receive a parcel. Getty Images
Remember these days? There was a time when it took weeks to receive a parcel. Getty Images

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, and, while taking a quick breather from the feature story I’m writing, I quickly check out what’s new on my favourite e-commerce sites. On The Modist.com, I discover that a striped jersey tunic that I’ve had my eye on, is now half of its original price. I quickly add it into my cart and click “proceed to checkout”. The system already has my card details stored, and in under five minutes, I’m done. I’ve placed my order, and I get back to work.

At 5:51pm, I get an e-mail confirming my order. And, at 6:16pm, I receive an SMS stating that I can now phone the team to schedule my delivery. I call the number listed, and they tell me that delivery within Dubai that same night, between 8pm and 9pm, is possible. Of course, I schedule the delivery promptly for 8pm. Who wouldn’t? I get home from work, and, a little more than an hour later, the doorbell rings. A well-dressed man wearing a black blazer with “The Modist” embroidered on the pocket, hands me my package. I thank him, close the door, open the box and immediately try on the garment. Within hours, my entire transaction

is complete.

I can’t help but be reminded of earlier days of online delivery, where I would have to wait weeks for my order to arrive. But that waiting game was neither frustrating nor tedious. It was exciting, not knowing exactly when a delivery would arrive, and not having the option to even track your package through its journey. There was a certain high attributed to placing an online order and it lasted for weeks, until the package ultimately arrived at your doorstep. I’d hunt down a pair of scissors; sometimes even a butter knife, carefully cut the tape clear from the carton and take out each layer of tissue paper or bubble paper, unraveling the layers slowly, before reaching the ultimate prize.

Now, that high is very short-lived. The magic of the wait has been replaced by impatience and instant gratification. Personally, I’ve become so spoiled that even the standard, 3 to 5 business days feels like a long wait. While some couriers supply you with a tracking number, by which you can check which country your order is in, and whether it has been cleared by customs, other apps even allow you to track the delivery’s exact location through GPS.

The speedy delivery in my case is no doubt due to the fact that The Modist is based in Dubai, as is all of its stock. And there loads of other sites in the UAE – Namshi.com, Sivvi.com, Boutique1.com and more, that also have a quick turnaround once you place your order. Ounass.com, another UAE-based e-commerce portal, specialises in luxury, and promises a guaranteed two-hour window for delivery – a service that would have been unheard of a decade ago.

Surely, such prompt services result in more returns and exchanges by customers. If it’s so easy for a driver to quickly come to your residence, you’ll be less careful about ensuring you pick the perfect size and colour, since returning or exchanging your purchase doesn’t take too much effort. Your whole online shopping experience will become less thoughtful, less special and possibly, more careless.

I’ve always been somewhat addicted to the whole process of receiving a delivery in the mail, or to my door. And, since free time is scarce, and doesn’t allow me leisurely strolls through Dubai’s countless malls, e-commerce is my most efficient mode of shopping.

But I won’t let modernity take the magic out of the process – I’ll still make sure to take my time before clicking that “checkout” button on the screen, and when the delivery does arrive, I’ll cherish the moments of unpacking it. While the advent of social-media may have made a spectacle out of “unboxing,” where a person’s followers are all expected to “ooh” and “aah” over whatever new splurge they are opening and revealing to the world of the web on-camera, for me, receiving a delivery and discovering its contents will always be a purely personal affair.