Can you ever really know yourself? It's one of the big philosophical questions.

I wrestle with it every time I go shopping. Are these jeans cool enough for me? Am I cool enough for these jeans? What does this T-shirt say about me?

It's an existential crisis almost never helped by the arrival of a sales assistant.

I crumble under the pressure and buy something stupid or – more often than not – politely leave the store.


READ MORE:Amazon won't steal Christmas, say Kiwi shops

Thankfully, the internet knows me better than I do.

It knows what jeans I like and tells me when they are on sale.

My computer suggests T-shirt options with unnerving precision.

"What you'd like," it says, "is a Marvel Comics T-Shirt, but with an artsy twist that makes it look a bit ironic."

And it's right and so I bought that cleverly designed Spider-man shirt and it was cheap and delivered within 24 hours (by a cool local site called Mighty Ape).

I am a slow adopter but I buy more and more online: whisky, records, books and clothes.

The other day after talking to a work mate about the merits of a new music festival I looked back at my screen – a Bloomberg financial page no less – and there was an advert trying to sell me that very ticket.


I know the internet can't hear me talk but it was unnerving. How does it know me so well?

To get a sense of that I requested my profile data from Twitter and it was amazing.

The social media company will send you a list of all the subjects areas it has tagged to your profile – which can be onsold to marketers.

My Twitter persona is mostly for work so it is heavy on financial topics.

But can still pick many of my favourite TV shows, music genres and hobbies. I hate to think what Facebook knows about me.

It's probably worth mentioning a good golden rule for social media here: never put anything online that you can't cope with seeing published in a newspaper.

Otherwise I'm okay with this profiling because I enjoy the service these social media sites provide.

And also because their knowledge of my tastes is making my life easier.

Online shopping is a saviour for people like me. I'm not spending more on T-shirts, books and records than I did before – I'm just doing it more efficiently.

But I'm horrified at the thought of online shopping killing bricks and mortar stores.

I know the internet can't hear me talk but it was unnerving. How does it know me so well?

Amazon's impending launch in Australia has prompted a lot of talk about it spelling doom for local retailers.

I really hope it doesn't and I think we should all be considering how we can moderate its influence.

I like some real shops - especially the ones that sell books, comics and records.

And I like to know the other kinds are there so that when I walk through a mall I have the option to look in and browse if I have a rush of blood to the head.

I know other people who are more comfortable with random human interaction who actually enjoy clothes shopping.

Some – possibly with a wider wardrobe repertoire than business suits, jeans and T-shirts - like to try clothes on first.

Cool shops make city life vibrant - it can't be all juice bars, coffee shops and fast food joints.

Most of the online shopping I do is with local retailers. The kind of places I used to visit before – Hallensteins, Barkers, Real Groovy Records, Rebel Sports.

These sellers have easy to use online platforms and are running good mixed-model businesses.

I don't want to see them wiped out by a giant tech company.

Which is why I'm not thrilled about the relentless march of Amazon towards these shores.

Amazon is the fourth-most-valuable public company in the world. It has a market capitalisation of US$800m.

It the largest internet company by revenue in the world.

China now has its own a rival in Alibaba.

A world where a handful of megalithic retailers have a stranglehold on selling nearly everything sounds like a charmless one to me.

Will it be worth the convenience and few dollars of savings?

Perhaps I'll be convinced. I might already be a fuddy-duddy shopper.

Real shops may eventually become a niche experience for a select few enthusiasts - like vinyl records.

I feel like Amazon is so smart and techy that if I buy one thing from it, it'll suddenly know what I need to buy my mum for Christmas. That would be really helpful.

But we have to give local players a chance. We need to at least ensure they have a level playing field - that international players are paying tax and that GST is charged on items purchased in New Zealand by New Zealanders.

I hope revenue minister Stuart Nash was right when he said the Government will address that issue.

It seems culturally and socially important that New Zealanders retain a meaningful stake in the retail world.

Like local produced art, music and journalism. It is something worth fighting for.