Ma and pa stores have been suffering since before Walmart opened their first Supercenter. Hometown, brick and mortar retail has had a fraught relationship with consumers for decades.
Consumers are very simple to understand:
- They have no loyalty beyond their own self-interest.
- They care a great deal about price.
- They will buy from the place that has their item in stock.
- They want knowledgeable service.
- And they want hassle-free returns.
No one is confused about what consumers want. They are often at a loss about how to provide it. When big stores roll into town they come with many natural advantages. Because they can buy and sell in volume, prices are lower. They can keep more items in stock. And they can often accept returns even without a receipt.
That said, big retail has forgotten the first rule. Consumers are only loyal to themselves. The internet is even bigger than big retail. It puts the power of big business back into the hands of small merchants. In a reversal of fortune, small internet boutiques have regained the advantage. Depending on what you are shopping for, there are many reasons you should buy it online. Here are three items that fall into that category:
It can be hard to find designer clothes in small towns. They would fall into the category of specialty item. Budget-friendly stores like Walmart are not going to carry designer fashions at budget-busting prices. Combine high-style with niche products and you have a recipe for shopping failure when limited to the local offerings.
That is why it makes sense to buy items like sports sunglasses from a trusted online retailer. You would be lucky to find one pair of the type of sunglasses you want locally. Forget about browsing different brands and colors and sizes. Online, you can find exactly what you are looking for with one click and browse variations of the item until you have just the right item.
One type of specialty electronics you will want to buy online is a large TV. Sure, you might want to look at the physical item in the store. But if you don’t have a truck and a couple of strong helpers, you will have to pay extra for delivery. And that is if they offer delivery at all.
Cnet has determined that when it comes to buying a TV, online is better, but barely. Delivery is definitely a factor. If you live in an apartment and take public transportation, online is the only way that makes sense. Cnet also observed that when it comes to selection, online is infinite.
There are other specialty items that you will have a hard time getting at your local big-box retailer. That is either because they don’t carry the item, or the item is too popular and they are constantly out of stock. Take the guesswork out of the equation by making your purchase online. You get exactly what you want. And you know exactly when you can get it. No guesswork required.
The last thing you want to do is go to a physical store and risk infection to pick up supplies that protect you from infection. In many places, those supplies are still somewhat hard to come by. Prices for masks and hand sanitizer are still higher than necessary if you can find them at all locally.
It is much easier to find supplies online. Not only can you find masks in bulk, you can search for specific kinds of masks. Once you do your research, you can go for the specific type you think is best for your family. Even if you have to wait a few weeks to get them, it is better than not having the option at all. Good luck finding KN95s at your pharmacy.
When it comes to instant gratification, nothing beats going to a store and picking up your item in person. But you will seldom need designer sportswear right away. That big-screen TV can wait a couple days. And you don’t wait till the last moment to get pandemic supplies. You keep those on constant reorder so that you don’t run out.