Over Xmas my better half ordered a lot of our presents over the Internet, like most people do nowadays..
The problem, as I see it, with ordering stuff online is that you have to be in when the delivery arrives. As both of us work full time (and sometimes do overtime) we are seldom in when the delivery arrives.. Luckily we have great, trustworthy, neighbours who are kind enough to accept deliveries in our behalf.. Sometimes, however, we have had to wait until the weekend or a suitable evening to pick up the deliver from some depot in a trading / industrial estate or the local sorting office..
Now you could just look at this situation and say that that’s just the price you pay for cheep Internet goods, which would be fair enough but I realised something over the holidays..
We go shopping at the Glasgow Fort from time to time (other shopping centres are available) and noticed that stores such as HMV are busy with people looking at the large choice of goods in store, however most of the browsers do not buy the goods because they know that the same goods are available on line at a lower price, often from the same retailer ??!
So I Ask.. Why do these retailers do this? Could they not link the store to the online system? Could online users not be offered the same goods at their nearest store or an order online and it’s reserved in store, assuming that the store have the item. Why have two prices?
These stores must have a high overhead, but by charging more for their ‘real’ stores they are loosing business and having to pay for postage to the customer when they could have sold the item to the consumer in store.. could these stores not change their view of the way that they do business and view their ‘real’ stores more like a regional uplift and promotion centres, rather than the old style retail stores they used to be?
I used to love seeing Virgin Mega stores where you could listen to your music and try before you buy (I know that original independent record stores used to do this before Virgin). With all the competition online, ‘real’ stores need to do more to bring customers into their stores. Why just show iPad / iPhone speaker Docks? Consumers want to try them out! Remember the days when every electrical store had a Hi-Fi / Home Cinema room to let you try out the kit before you chose the one you wanted? You can’t do that online.
Bricks and mortar retail need to learn from the past, what worked and still works for the best retailers, yes I do mean take a lesson from the Apple store !!
The only store that I can think of in the UK, apart from Apple, that comes close to this idea is Argos. Argos allow you to order online and pick up in store for the same price even on the same day, unfortunately you can’t try the product (or even see it out the box) before you buy it..
Maybe I expect too much from my retail experience?
Since writing this blog, HMV in the UK collapsed, it’s website currently (March 2013) advises “As you probably know, HMV went into administration* on 15 January 2013 and therefore the website HMV.com has been suspended and no purchases can be made online until further notice.”
I had a gift card for HMV and had gone to their website prior to the collapse and it was horrific. If you wanted music or DVD/BlueRay films you got details of the item (probably from IMDB or record company site etc) but if you wanted one of their electronic devices, such as iPod docking stations / memory card / iPhone accessories etc, then there was no information available, nothing – how the hell were you supposed to be able to make an informed decision you wanted the item? Where was the salesmanship, the draw to buy? I’m not surprised it went to the wall.(There are rumours it will be resurrected by record company execs & it’s existing suppliers, hopefully they will do a better job).