Who Deserves Your Business?

I used to work as a telephone operator in sales/customer service for an 800-number in the late 1980’s…a wallpaper pirate business. We were considered “pirates” because we “stole” (legally of course) business from the local wallpaper retailer who essentially did all the work. Then several years ago, my husband and I worked with my father in running a retail wallpaper brick & mortar store…that lasted two years. Now my husband and I work from home full-time selling wallpaper on the Internet. This is what I have seen/experienced first hand…

In the world of wallpaper, consumers would:

  • Visit the local retail store;
  • Use its facilities, which costs the store money. Expenses include rent, heat or air conditioning, lights, furniture & fixtures, etc.;
  • Seek assistance from the sales/service staff…ask questions, look through books, touch & see the product, get advice & practical information, which also costs the store money. Expenses include payroll for employees, training, inventory, marketing materials, etc;
  • Go home & call an 800 phone number found in the back of a decorating magazine or get online and order the product from another company where the prices were considerably cheaper.

The store did all the work and the 800 number companies and/or e-commerce businesses would receive all the sales. No wonder local retail stores have been going by the wayside…they can’t afford to pay their bills.

Why were these other companies able to offer the products so cheap? Because the stores were greedy and wanted to inflate their profits? No…because these other companies had little or no overhead…the store was paying all the overhead costs!

Another situation which is all too common includes consumers searching online for product information, asking questions, getting answers and then going home and buying the product from the local home improvement store to avoid shipping charges. That would be completely understandable if they received the help/information from that home improvement store’s website, but oftentimes that is not the case. Some other business/individual did all the work in providing the information for free to the consumer in a user-friendly manner and lost out on the fruit of their labor, the sale.

Something just doesn’t seem right here.

My philosophy is to pay the fellow who is keeping you fed. If you are getting your needs met by the local store…they’re answering your questions, providing you a pleasant shopping experience, making the product available to see, touch & sample, then by all means pay them for the product…even if you can get the product for less somewhere else. The price of the product helps cover the cost of meeting all of those other needs. Don’t be cheap.

Likewise if you discover something online and get all your needs met there (questions answered in a user-friendly manner, practical information & useful advice), pay them for the product even if the shipping is more expensive than driving to the local store. After all, the source online met all your other needs in the comfort of your own home (or office) for free.

The bottom line is helpful information, friendly service, and a pleasant shopping environment all has value and is worth something to the consumer whether or not it is recognized or paid for. Those factors should be considered or else all the businesses that conduct business by offering product based solely on price will be the only ones left in business. The helpful information, friendly service and pleasant environment will be gone by the wayside because the businesses providing those commodities couldn’t pay their bills.

My advice…Give your business to the business who earns it.

[tags]online business, customer service[/tags]

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