OK, so I read a post over at Target Marketing (http://www.targetmarketingmag.com) about taxing web sales to level the playing field between online retailers (he specifically targeted Amazon) and local, “offline” retailers.
It immediately struck a chord with me, and I wrote a rather lengthy response. I am going to post my response below, but you need to read his article to better understand. Here is the link to his article: http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/it-s-time-web-sales-are-taxed-showrooming-wrecks-american-business/2
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. Granted Amazon is the 800lb Gorilla, and can certainly wreak havoc.
With that said, look at what Amazon and eBay have done for local businesses. Look at the retailers that are now able to list their products, and compete on an international scale. It’s not the same as strong, local retail, but, in many cases, they can compete, profitably.
Now, with that said, there is a fairly easy solution for the likes of Best Buy vs Amazon or whoever when it comes to large ticket items. MSRP. I have an immediate, fairly expensive example.
I am looking at geting a new DSLR digital camera. I have narrowed it down between 2 brands, each one has a model in the $699 range. I have physically been to Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Norman Camera, and looked online at Amazon, Buy.com, and a couple of others, Guess what? The price for the camera – at all locations, online, or offline – is the same. THE SAME! The manufacturer – read that again, THE MANUFACTURER is requiring a certain price to be charged for the product – or they will no longer be able to sell their brand.
It ain’t rocket science folks. Everyone is looking for a deal. The “deal” becomes the added service and knowledge of experienced people that are vested in having you as a customer. If you want that – buy at retail. If it’s not important to you – buy it from where you feel comfortable.
So you may be asking – “Where did I buy the camera?” I am going to buy it at a retail store, not online. I want the help, I want the service, and I want the store to be there for my other product needs in the future. Amazon is not evil. They are a business. They are in business to make money, and Jeff Bezos is good at it. The examples that you gave, Borders and others – were in trouble when Amazon came onto the scene. Look – if business were easy, there wouldn’t be so many people in government….(cheap shot, sorry).
The real problem is the hypocracy and double standards. Everyone wants it all, low price, immediate availability and great service. You might get it sometimes, but usually, you get to pick one. They want the cute, local shops, and they want the discounted online price. If you can’t balance, if you can’t support local business and take advantage of online deals, then you need to try harder until you can balance – or you won’t have that option in the future (and you will complain about it – trust me…)
I have made money from my book sales on Amazon – something I would NEVER have been able to do without Amazon – and guess what – that’s how I am paying for my camera….at a local retailer.