Does Amazon or eBay impact your business?
If you own a small business like I do, you know the dent that Amazon and eBay are putting into your sales. I have been racking my brain, trying to figure a way to keep my piece of the pie. I’m experimenting with this idea, not a new one, but may work to keep those people that use all of my work and effort putting together page after page of helpful information to assist them in buying machinery on my site as well as my brick and mortar store; only to have them take the model or part number and leave my site or store and search for the lowest price on their phone.
In my business, people aren’t buying apples or eggplants without part numbers, they are buying products that have a specific product number, model number or part number. This makes it VERY easy to compare my prices against everyone else. Now some of you may be saying, so what, the lowest price wins. My reply to you is, if Amazon always wins, then EVERY single store other than Amazon will go out of business because NOBODY can compete on price like Amazon. Jeff Bezos and his crew don’t care if they have to buy the market and lose a few billion dollars to own an industry. They have deep pockets. If it isn’t Amazon, it’s an Ebayer who has somehow managed to distribute one of our same lines that are living in a doublewide trailer selling things at 5% over cost because he has no overhead. (and no possible way of growing either) There is an old adage in business. “If you live by price, you die by price.”
Another business down the street selling similar products to mine was seeing a phenomenon that he didn’t know how to combat. A customer would come into his Lawn Equipment store and ask for a gear for his riding mower. The employee would look up the make, model, serial number of the mower. They would both pour over schematics (parts diagrams) and finally locate the broken part. After this 20 minute search, the customer would state, “Just give me the part number so I can think about it.” The employee would give out the part number only to never see the customer return. After a while, his boss kept asking why these people never purchased anything. He said, “We had the part in stock and if we didn’t we could have ordered it for him. Why didn’t he buy it?” The employee replied, “Well, they just ask for the part number and then never come back.” His boss finally realized what was happening after searching for that part number on the web, only to find that Amazon was selling this part at a cost that made him spill his coffee all over his keyboard. “When did Amazon get into the Lawn Equipment business?” he said to his staff. His staff told him that they themselves were purchasing most anything for their personal use on Amazon. Sure enough, after a little searching under many different categories, he found that the top selling products from any category he could think of was being sold on Amazon.
“Geez, how are we ever going to sell anything if everyone
is doing this?” he lamented to his staff. That was the moment that he decided to never give out part numbers again. He was more than willing to help customers, but he starts everyone discussion at the parts counter with, “I’m more than glad to find the part for you, but I expect you to purchase this from me as I do not give out part numbers.” Ever since then, the customer either leaves or gladly supports his local business.
I have an online store
99% of our business comes from our online store and only 1% comes from walk-in customers nowadays. I have seen my profit margins slip every single year as more and more companies start an online store thinking only of profit and not of providing a service. They compete on price alone and figure they will win, only to realize that Amazon is going directly to the manufacturers and agreeing to purchase millions of dollars of the product if they will give them the top 200 selling products to sell. Amazon is glad to sell at a loss with free shipping to boot! Amazon is stealing all of our lunch money so that we can only buy things in one place. Did you know that Wal-Mart is considering scaling down their retail business and going into health care due to Amazon and the other online companies starting to cut into their profits?
My Plan of Action
Ok, so here is my plan. From now on, we are not going to show part numbers on our site. We will, of course, have a list of all of the manufacturers and model numbers along with a plethora of information and parts diagrams. We will continue to have a customer service team that will answer your email questions and talk with you on the phone to help you find that part or unit to keep you going, but we will NOT provide part numbers so that you can search it again to find the cheapest price out there. The last time I checked, my employees don’t want to work for free, my landlord wants his rent check and the lights don’t stay on if I can’t pay the light bill. For those of you that know your part number, because you already used my site or one of my fellow online peer’s sites to research your part number, you won’t find the part number on our schematics. Yes, you can find the part by searching by part number, but we won’t hold out a billboard saying, “Hey, here is the part number and here is my price. Now, go shop me against everyone else in the world to get it cheaper.”
If every business would start to do this, maybe we could put a dent in Amazon and these crazy Ebayers. It’s worth a try. What do you have to lose?