Beware high shipping costs, a lack of information and fake testimonials

For a long time I thought it was the beast noire of Mark Zuckerberg: insensitive to online advertising. That was until I saw an Instagram post claiming to find the most comfortable bra in the world. “No digging, no bulging, no stress!”

The post included an accelerated video in which beautiful women lived, laughed, and loved with soft, malleable bras that looked divine. Ladies and gentlemen, you know what a holy grail this would be. In an instant, I went to Veruca Sal, muttering softly, “I want it NOW.”

But when I clicked on the link to buy, I realized something was wrong. High shipping costs, no information on how the bra was made or where it came from, obviously false testimonials …

Indeed, I did some research online and found dissatisfied customers for whom the miracle bra looked more like a mirage: a cheap schmutter that took months to arrive, if it ever arrived.

This was my first brush with direct shipping, a global phenomenon barely known to people over the age of 50 although it is becoming one of the most popular (and controversial) ways to buy and sell online. Direct shipping is an old-fashioned retail concept, which refers to how mail order companies, street stores, and online stores send wholesale supplier items so they can fulfill orders.

But through globalization and the internet it has been transformed into a ubiquitous “side trap,” that is, an extra revenue stream, thanks to e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Wix, and AliExpress. These sites allow you, Joe or Joanna Bloggs, to easily set up an online store and sell cheap products (often made in China) without having to run them yourself.

It looks like a smart, efficient business model, and social media is flooded with influencers who claim to earn six figures a year with direct shipping. Once you know this, you’ll see it everywhere online, usually in the form of clickbait videos that are designed to go viral so that your promoters can avoid paying for ads.

It turns out that ad-resistant customers like me aren’t Facebook’s worst nightmare. They are the creators of the popular meme humor accounts and the unscrupulous ones who buy them, so that they can contaminate the timelines of the fans with free ads and disguised as all kinds of tattoos.

More than Money

The so-called miracle bra is one of the most conventional products on offer. You can get a burrito blanket, toilet paper with Donald Trump’s face, and a myriad of little gadgets you never knew you needed, the modern equivalent of the Innovation catalog that came through the mailbox in the ’80s and’ 90s, selling ridiculous inventions that you could ever use. before throwing them in the technology cemetery.

Direct shipping is a hollow and environmentally destructive consumerism that adds little value to the economy. Many carriers manipulate social media algorithms with great effect, using intrusive data tracking and video bombardment to ward off trade from genuine SMEs, all so that they can sell products that are not what they seem or don’t exist. Customer service is often frightening or non-existent.

As for those influencers who seem to be living the dream of direct shipping? An independent analysis of the Shopify direct shipping platform in 2018 found that 80 percent of sellers lose money, while 84 percent of websites hosted by Shopify have no traffic. Plus, you need money in advance to start an online store and go through the trial and error process to find the right products to attract that volatile online market, with no guarantee that you will get it back.

I can see why dropping call submissions at a time when going to college and getting a job no longer leads to automatic financial security.

In his recent book on the economy of influencers, Get Rich or Lie Trying, writer Symeon Brown curiously argues that Thatcher-Blair’s (Silicon Valley-assisted) legacy is one in which online distress is now a “false” approach. until you do. ” generate the greatest financial rewards (at least for some) but also encourage fraud, exploitation and erosion of our self-esteem.

Direct shipping is in a gloomy continuum with multilevel marketing inconveniences, hucksterism from influencers, and the “emperor’s new clothes” environment surrounding cryptocurrency. Sometimes it seems like our generation will be trapped forever in an abusive relationship with commerce and online businesses, which promise much more than they will ever be able to deliver.

But if the cost-of-living crisis increases the appeal of direct shipping to scammers, the story is different for struggling consumers. Now that inflation is back and supply chains are faltering, those little “oh, go, then” purchases on social media will be the first to come out, right?

That is, if our generation can train us outside of them. Direct shipping, and the useless and parasitic business practices it encourages, will only do so
thrive as long as enough new social media users are ready to accompany it all. Meanwhile, my search for the perfect bra continues. I just won’t be watching
on Instagram

Iona Bain is the founder of the blog Young Money and author of Own It!

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