Why I Don’t Do Bricks & Mortar

One of the internet canards that drives me crazy is the much overplayed and misused idea that you should avoid buying things online simply because it’s somehow more noble to trade with bricks & mortar stores.


That is bullshit.  Period.

If someone wants my business, whether it’s an online store, an allegedly mom and pop operation or a gigantic retail chain, there are only four things that matter:

1. Give me a decent price.

2. Give me good customer service, before and after the sale.

3. Don’t waste my time.

4. Sell me what I want to buy, not what you want to sell me.

Of these four things, having the absolute lowest price is probably the least important.  My time is, figuratively and literally, worth more than the few bucks I might save by pricing every possible source.  For the same reason, numbers 3 and 4 are very important.

Amazon is the undisputed leader in all four.  The Apple Store is the best of the bricks & mortar crowd.  Home Depot is pretty good at it, particularly when it comes to getting me in and out quickly.

Show me a needlessly long line, and I’ll show you a place I’ll never be again.  Make more than a nominal effort to upsell me and you’ll never see me again.

When someone is more focused on what they want to sell than what I want to buy, things are about to get ugly.

Forbes has a must-read article that puts much of this in perspective, using Best Buy as an example.  I shop at Best Buy now and then (on the rare occasion when I need something immediately), and have not personally experienced these issues.  But if I did, I’d likely never go back.

Among the store-killers in that article:

But my friend decided to buy some other blu-ray discs.  Or at least he tried to, until we were “assisted” by a young, poorly groomed sales clerk from the TV department, who wandered over to interrogate us.  What kind of TV do you have?  Do you have a cable service, or a satellite service?  Do you have a triple play service plan?

This would drive me completely bonkers.  Or more directly, to Amazon.Com.

More gospel:

But this is hardly customer service.  It’s actually getting in the way of a customer who’s trying to self-service because there’s no one around who can answer a basic question about the store’s confusing layout.  It’s anti-service.

There’s only one rule retailers need to impress on their employees: If customers can more easily get what they want elsewhere, they will.

Sure, “easy” includes price, but it includes a lot of other things too.

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