While Amazon’s new price check application may seem great for consumers, in the long run it’s not good for anyone. Consumers only THINK they only care about the lowest prices. Sure no one wants to feel stupid for paying more than they should. This is one of the reasons that Saturn was successful for a while. If you bought a Saturn you were sure that no savvier buyer was paying less than you.
But, in truth, consumers need more than a low price. Price shopping alone is killing our communities. When consumers decide they only care about price, they support the Mega stores like Lowes, or Walmart or Amazon. They think that Walmart, for example, will beat up their suppliers so they can offer the lowest price. No small business can hope to match Walmart prices, so eventually they go out of business.
Back in the day, there were lots of small neighborhood bookstores, populated by people who knew and loved books. Then Borders came and put the small guys out of business. Customers were saving money in the short term. In the end, Borders, eventually was not staffed by book lovers anymore, no longer giving customers what they needed, and Borders went under.
Smaller retailers really have an advantage when a customer has a problem they need help diagnosing or has a specific question. That personal and knowledgeable service is rarely found at the big chain retailers. Customers go where the employees know their products and their customers.
The focus on lowest price is lose, lose, lose for everyone. The small businesses lose because they cannot compete on price and they ultimately go under. The customer loses because they need the small businesses to employ people from the community, a place to go for advice and they need a variety of places to shop.
And even the big low price business loses. With a lack of choice, customers get pickier and angrier when their TRUE needs are not being met. There can be a huge backlash when consumers want more and more service at the same low price.
Small retailers know their customers, know their products and can provide a level of service the big names will never be able to compete against. That doesn’t mean never shop at a big name store or online, but we need to keep our communities alive for the sake of retailers and consumers alike.
Laurie Brown is a trainer, coach, speaker, and author with more than 20 years of experience helping individuals, associations and companies improve their sales, customer service, leadership, and presentation skills. For more information, call (877) 999-DIFF toll free, email her at [email protected], or visit her website at www.thedifference.net.