I remember our first computer, it was one of the coolest things we had purchased (second only to our first car, and our first home theater system). It became even more wondrous when we got dial up and had access to the AMAZING SUPER INFORMATION HIGHWAY called the Internet. Ahhhh the things you could do, research anything you wanted/needed, get news from across the world and…playing games (my personal favorite, ssshhhh don’t tell anyone I am a recovering EQ and WOW addict). The evolution of the computer and the internet also brought along an old idea with a fresh new spin called ONLINE PURCHASING.
Purchasing product(s) online became popular quickly and why not? You can buy almost anything online these days with a couple of mouse clicks in the comfort of your own home. NO taking a shower, NO brushing your teeth, NO getting dressed, NO hop in the car and drive across town. NO pressure from salespeople, NO waiting in line. AMAZING! Sometimes I wonder if the World’s obesity issues could be blamed solely on the very first internet connection.
So you are wondering why I am blogging about buying local vs. online right? I mean with all the information you can get and the convenience of buying that Blu Ray player online in your underwear, why would you drive anywhere to buy anything other than groceries? No brainer right? Do all your purchases online…..WRONG! While all of this seems so easy and convenient how do you really know you are making the right decision? There are many things you should really think about before making those mouse clicks.
Buying local means so many things for any community (based upon 100′s of hours of research…).
• Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses and further strengthens the economic base of the community.
• More tax dollars are retained for the state which helps support the local schools and other programs that are essential in any community.
• Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in most communities, supporting local business help generate more jobs in the community.
• Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know the customer, this helps create better customer service by having “experts” on staff to help you..
• Local Businesses select products based on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, this helps gives a better range of products to choose from.
My personal feelings (based upon a lifetime of experiences in the stereo industry…):
• Do you get to touch, smell and listen to things while you are shopping online? Let’s take speakers for example. I liken speakers to food: some like liver and some do not (YUCK) You can spend many hours online and read reviews but the speaker is an item you make the personal connection with and you will never really know if it is the right choice for you until you have actually listened to them in person.
• How do you really know what product is the right choice for you? Tell me, how many times when you were getting ready to click the buy button did some voice come from your computer to ask you how big your room is? Did the room open up into other rooms? How high were the ceilings? Are you mainly going to listen to music or are you going for that full 7.1 surround sound? Too many people make a choice based upon online reviews, or a friends “expert” advice. People working in a local business are generally the true experts and will ask you those questions to ensure you get what you the right product.
• When you do buy something online what happens when you are not happy with the way it sounds, or have issues setting it up? Does that cheap online seller have customer support to walk you through over the phone how to calibrate that receiver, reset the processor or even come out to your house to make sure it was hooked up correctly? We can and often do!
• What happens if your product breaks under the warranty period? Does the place you purchased the product online take care of the shipping? (We do). Will they get you a replacement box to send it back to them because you threw it out? (We do). How long will you be out of commission if it cannot be repaired right away? (On most electronics we will give the customer a loaner to use until their product is back from being repaired, BEAT THAT MR. ONLINE RETAILER). Will you be the one making the call to the manufacturer if you are not happy with these repairs or was not done timely? (We stand by and support the purchase by making those calls to the manufacturer).
• What happens after a couple of months of jamming on your speakers and you start wishing you had bought the speakers one step higher? Sell them on Craigslist and go buy new speakers? No need if you bought them in our store. We actually have a trade up program where if a client buys a set of speakers and decides later to upgrade we can accommodate them by giving them full value back on what they paid towards their upgrade. There is fine print and limitations to this program, but this is something that no one else in our area does and it is one of the best programs I can think of to generate more business and to reward a customer for their loyalty.
I could go on and on. The point to all of this is that there are a great many reasons why a local business is a better choice than shopping online. The next time you get online to look for something to purchase, instead look for a local business in your community that sells what you are looking for. When it all comes down to it, don’t you deserve to get all the information you need to ensure you are making the right purchasing decision. You may just wish to ask yourself what does buying local vs. online mean to you.