[Frontspiece: “Shopping Online Is Too Hard,” said no woman ever. Photo via onlineebaystore.blogspot.com.]
When Founder Tom obtained the domain name for ShoppingGirl.com back in the late 1990s, he was working at one of the most successful Web businesses around. It still is a major player, a company you’ve likely used more than once. At that time, most of Tom’s co-workers, who happened to be male, were confused by and critical of Tom’s choice of the domain ShoppingGirl.com. Their reason? Women were too stupid to understand the Internet, the Web, or computers in general. A website devoted to serving the shopping experience of all women globally struck pretty much every man in the industry as ludicrous. Because, you know, women can’t “do” Technology.
Tom was shocked and horrified by these reactions. Tom knew better. Tom was fortunate to have known a number of strong, capable, and innovative women throughout his life.
Women like his grandmother, Catherine, who started out an immigrant coalminer’s daughter, became a successful model, and then chose to move across the country to marry and establish a wonderful family home. A lifelong housewife, she was known throughout her community for her charitable works, the wisdom of her insights, and the warmth and stability of her presence. Catherine ran her home and family’s financial and other affairs with near perfection, and always with grace, taste, and security in mind for the peace, fulfillment, and welfare of every member of the family. Anyone who believes that is an easy task simply hasn’t been paying attention in life.
Women like his alternate “Mom”, life-long friend and inspiration, Renee Valente. Renee started out as a part-time secretary at Talent Associates Production Company, founded by the legenday David Susskind. She was eventually promoted to Head of Production, an unheard of opportunity for a woman at that time. Renee designed and developed a sea change in the entire method by which films are produced, turning over production to independent production companies rather than the major studios, which opened up the industry in ways that are little appreciated or recognized, but which have had a major influence on cinema and the entertainment business. Elected the first female President of the Producers Guild of America, Renee sadly passed away recently after having produced over 70 films and televisions shows herself, discovered many of the stars of the screen and television that you know and love, and being universally admired for her talent, wisdom, generosity, and willingness to support others on their paths to success.
We could go on but, in essence, Tom knew from personal experience and observation that his misogynistic co-workers, men driving the development of e-commerce, were clueless. Tom knew that women were going to grab onto the Web and make it their own.
You see, these men misunderstood something about women, shopping, and the real societal and cultural value they provide. Most women have heard men joke, or whine, or insult, what in truth is a great power and educational endeavor that women go through to make everyone’s lives better; that is, learning the art, purpose, and method of shopping.
Just think about it for a minute. Women grow up generally expecting to bear the responsibility of seeing to it that their lives, and the lives of those around them, are going to be played out within a certain kind of framework. That framework is ideally one that is pleasant, beautiful, peaceful, rewarding, filled with opportunities, and reflective of the personalities of those living within it. In order to accomplish this, women must learn to shop, to manipulate the commercial sector that everyone in an advanced society now relies upon for its most fundamental aspects of well-being and sheer survival. The amount of legitimate, valid education, experience, analysis, reasoning, projection, risk-taking, and effort involved in developing life-long shopping skills is no joke. It’s also not as driven by corporate propaganda and marketing to the emotions or perceived weaknesses of women as many in such industries may wish to believe. Who is manipulating who? One could ask, and the answer would be, women are managing it all. It is women who make most of the buying choices, and they do so based on the application of intelligent analysis and evaluation, comparing and contrasting factors such as personal and family need, desire, longevity, social standing, success, personal expression, and many other factors. Women do this so well, and so frequently, that it has become a seamless experience. As such, not surprisingly, it often goes unacknowledged and unappreciated by the very men who benefit from all that women’s shopping does to enhance their own lives. It is not hunter-gatherer gender role instinct. It is a gift, one received by reaction to study, practice, and the necessity to succeed or suffer the potent results of failure. A woman who hasn’t mastered economics cannot succeed at Life.
Time has proven Tom right. Women are the major force driving ecommerce. Online shopping has brought long-standing alternatives, such as community shopping malls, to the brink of disaster. Why? Because women get better value, service, and choice with less time and effort from online resources. Brick-and-mortar businesses that have served the needs of generations, like Sears, are slowly fading into history, because they cannot respond to the shopping needs of women. Those men who said that women wouldn’t–or couldn’t–shop online have been proven wrong.
We don’t intend to man-bash; we’re talking about a mind-set held by specific men. We all know that lots of men and women get things all wrong about the other. Still, considering that this viewpoint was widespread amongst influential men laying the foundations for ecommerce, there is a legitimate space for counterpoint.
Founder Tom’s vision for ShoppingGirl.com is that it becomes a global social media, resource, and service website for all women. As much as he disagreed with those attesting that women were too stupid to shop online, he continues to confront risible notions segmenting women into categories based on false marketing value. Assumptions by online retailers that only this or that type of woman is worth considering as a customer do nothing but limit profit. “Generation-Fill-In-The-Blank” is not the only group that shops online. Whether a woman is buying new clothes for the school year for herself, her children, her grandchildren, or for charity, those clothes will be purchased somewhere. If not at one unevolved shop, then it will be somewhere more responsive to the customer.
Women of all kinds and ages are beautiful, not based on physical states, but because of what they do. As the primary shoppers, we think it’s finally time for women to be acknowledged for the societal contribution their shopping makes around the world. Founder Tom hopes that ShoppingGirl.com will become a truly useful online resource for every woman, to help her find what she’s looking for, and to share with other women her savvy when it comes to shopping.