For years, I have been fighting the urge to use Amazon as my “go to” source for purchasing items I need for home or the office. My friends keep telling me it’s super easy and saves time and money.
For the most part, I just like seeing a product before I buy it. If I can put it in my hands and read the package, all the better. As a member of a chamber of commerce, I prefer to support local businesses when it makes sense. Money that is spent in a community, generally stays in that community and promotes jobs, the local economy, little league teams, etc.
Human interaction is also key. I can ask questions, get opinions and insights that I might not otherwise find in an online product description or by reading the ratings. Besides, I’m in the face-to-face marketing industry. Through research, it has been proven that trade shows and live marketing event can and do accelerate the sales process.
I also like to think there is a certain karma involved. Prairie Display/Chicago is a bricks and mortar business and we don’t have an online store. We believe personal service and human contact are valuable components to create a mutually beneficial partnership with customers, especially in our type of industry. Good service and communication are key.
A few months ago, the 10 year old electric fence we use to keep our dog in the yard, goes on the fritz. I replaced the battery in the collar, spent way too much time looking for a break in the wire and checked all of the other connections. It still wasn’t working and I didn’t want to pay for an expensive service call from the manufacturer.
A family member who works for a large sporting goods chain mentioned they now have wireless electric fence systems. She said they really do work well and are a lot less expensive. I logged on to the store’s website and discover this item isn’t sold online, only in stores. That’s ok though, I have some questions and would like to see it in person. I don’t normally go to this store so I figured it would be a good adventure.
Once inside, I ask the greeter where I would find the wireless electric fences. “Second floor, 4 aisles over,” he says. “Thanks!” So far, so good. I find the correct aisle and there are literally a dozen or more different product options. Since this store markets itself to sportsmen, most are remote versions that are used in hunting. I locate one that is just like my current fence, but I can’t find the wireless version. I looked on all the shelves, behind other boxes and the aisles on either side. Nothing. At this point I look to find someone to ask if they have a wireless option, or at least to point me in the right direction.
I walked over to a counter filled with rifles, scopes and ammunition. Not a comfortable area for me, but there are a few store employees standing behind the counter talking to each other.
“Excuse me,” I say. “Not sure if this is your area, but I have a question on the wireless dog fences.”
One of the guys points to the aisle I was just in. “Everything we have is over there.”
“But I’m looking for the wireless one. All I can see are the....”
I’m interrupted in mid-sentence. He points again. “All we have is what’s out there.”
Okaaaay. That ended my shopping trip. I walked out of the store scratching my head.
He didn’t want to double-check? He didn’t want to see if I had a specific need that would have been filled with another product? So I just left. I didn’t even stop to look at the cool camouflage vests.
Once home, I begrudgingly logged-on to Amazon and searched for that same product. I didn’t want to do it this way! There it was, same product, same price with shipping. I read the reviews, put it into my shopping cart and checked out. I would have it in 2-3 days. I did feel a bit bummed out because it was too easy.
However, I have to admit the face-to-face human interaction with the store salesperson DID accelerate the sale...right out of their store. I was Amazoned! Take note major sporting goods store chain.