With the advent of the internet also came online shopping. Online shopping offers a lot of benefits in it’s own right. You go online, find what you need and its delivered to your front door. There’s a lot of convenience there! And a lot of people have found awesome pricing to go along with it. However, now that online shopping has become a habit for us all, things are changing.
Yes, there are still deals to be found. But, online second hand deals have become increasingly fraudulent. Websites like craigslist and Ebay were once great venues to buy and sell. But now, not so much. Ebay has increasingly raised its fees and craigslists seems to have a lot of scams. As a bike shop, we see a lot of second hand bikes that have been bought from both places. The sad truth is that 3 out of 5 bikes we see have major problems. So be very careful when shopping second hand and always have an experienced mechanic check out any bikes before you buy.
The biggest issue we face is price shopping. It’s important to understand a few things. First, online shopping puts brick and mortar stores out of business. There are a lot of stores that I would much rather personally shop in than buy online. Sporting goods are one of them. I want to see, touch and try any kind of sporting goods before I buy. And its in REALLY bad taste to go to a physical store to check something out, then go buy it online without giving the store a chance to price match. The simple truth is that we can and DO match prices 99% of the time. And you’ve helped to keep a local store in business.
Second, online is NOT always cheaper. We have a particular customer who has become addicted to Amazon. He bought a few items cheaply; cheaper than we can get it. So he stopped asking us to price match. He did have one product that he consistently bought from us and we gave him “the amazon price”. One day, he needed something different and asked us to price match. The Amazon price was one cent cheaper than we sold it. Of course, we price matched it. So he again began buying several different products from us. His next purchase was a Garmin product. He gave us the opportunity to match the price so I went to Amazon to compare. What I saw next was unbelievable! I called him back and agreed to match the Amazon price…at $300 MORE than my retail price. Of course he was thrilled until I gave him the news about the price. I couldnt believe it. I went to the manufacturers website and their retail price was the same as what I had listed. Amazon was in fact $300 more. $300!!
The business model of Amazon and other companies (including Wal-Mart) is to offer a certain percentage of their products cheaply to get customers hooked on buying with them. Once that habit is established, you dont price check, you just buy.
The moral of the story, online is not always cheaper for your wallet. And your local bike shop almost certainly will price match if they can. So support your local shop. We’re real people and we care about our customers and our products!