Like most people, when I’m shopping for just about anything, I check the web and do some basic research first. If I don’t buy online, I’ll go into a local store armed with my new research, which is usually enough knowledge to make me a pain in the “butt” to the people in the store.
If the store doesn’t have what I want, and they offer to special order it for me, I’ll pretty much always say “no thanks.” I don’t want to go back to pick it up, and I know that I can almost certainly find it cheaper on the web. Or maybe I never buy it at all.
If you think about it, you probably shop in much the same way. See how much alike you and I are? We should have a beer sometime. …
I want speed. I want instant gratification. I don’t bother going to Redbox; I stream videos. I WANT IT NOW! If I’m at just about any store, and they don’t have something I want in stock, I think they suck. I was at the grocery store with my daughter yesterday and they didn’t have spinach. She’s 14 and she said “This store sucks,” and she doesn’t even like spinach. I don’t care why they don’t have it; I didn’t bother to ask why or when it would be in stock.
I read the powersports trade pubs (like this fine one you’re reading), and there is always much talk about web sales vs. brick and mortar. Frequently there is an undertone or a nose-up attitude that Internet sellers are inferior, cheap, or some other negative adjective. It’s simply not true. The Internet sellers are taking huge chunks of business from brick and mortar stores in almost every category. They’re earning it because they’re giving customers what they want.
Our industry perpetuates it, causes it and maybe even likes it. A huge part of the “sales pitch” of all of the major distributors is one-day shipping — order it today and have it tomorrow. Times have been tough for the last couple of years, and dealers have been trimming their inventory levels and relying on one-day shipping and telling customers they’ll special order it, and it’ll be here tomorrow.
So the customer leaves the store, and buys it on the Internet. A lot.
The distributors generally don’t care — they get the sale anyway.
If you’re a brick and mortar guy and you’re relying on one-day shipping, you’re losing sales. One day is too long. Your price is going to be too high (whether its true or not, that’s the perception). Your customer doesn’t want to come back tomorrow just to pick it up. Your customer is disappointed.
The big don’t always eat the little, but the fast always eat the slow. It’s a fundamental law of nature, and its accurate on many different levels.
Be fast. Be in stock. Don’t get eaten.
Steve Shankin is founder/president/CEO (Chief Executive Optimist) of Seizmik and its parent company, Vialink. As a result of his big brain (read: luck), he got into the UTV accessory business in 2002, well before it was what all the cool kids were doing. His companies have designed whole vehicles and extensively studied how consumers use UTVs. He still calls them “UTVs” and not “side-by-sides.” He’s a father of three girls, competitive cyclist and not a very good cook but he keeps on tryin’ anyway.