Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why Buy in Town When I Can Find It Cheaper on the Internet?

  A business owner was telling me the other day that he bought some materials for a new project that he was working on through the internet instead of giving the business to a local vendor!  My first question was "Why?"  His answer, unremarkably was "Why Not-- I am saving money and it is cheaper!"
  This was too good a discussion to drop, so we continued on!  My business owner friend said that he had worked on varying projects of a similar nature and always bought his supplies through the internet.  Not only were they cheaper, nobody in town could compete on price alone.
   I pointed out to my friend that if you do business in the town in which you are located, in my mind, you have a moral obligation to try and return that favor with other businesses located in the town, irrespective of cost, if cost becomes the key binding requirement!  What was even more sad, at least in my mind, was the fact that several local vendors were never given the opportunity to quote a price for the products the business owner bought from the internet. 
   The business owner "THOUGHT" that the internet prices were cheaper, however, without really checking and asking local vendors for a quotation, he really was not sure.  When I pointed this fact out, he did, reluctantly concede that I was right-- a probability did exist that the local vendor could indeed be cheaper than the internet.
    I have several friends who buy all of their travel airline tickets, hotels, rental cars through the web.  In some cases, this works!  I have done it myself when it is real easy, i.e.,  a one stop connection, nothing complicated and no complicated car or hotel requirements.  HOWEVER, I have also seen lots of folks try to check in at major hotels when getting reservations from big travel web providers.  In some cases, it was very sad to watch the hotel clerk tell the guest that the guest would have to call the web provider to resolve the problem, he/she could not help them.
    If price is the only factor in your decision calculus, then probably using web providers is acceptable.  However, my experience is that I am willing to pay a little more, have a fellow business person here in town provide what I need, even if the price is higher.  At the end of the day, is the price really higher?  Oh, Ostensibly it may be, however, when you factor in participation in various community fund raisers, community events, sponsorships and other local charitable events, the price is usually lower than the web.
    Unless the price is significantly and substantially cheaper on the same exact item as the local vendor, give strong consideration to shopping in town.  I think that you will find that in the end, local prices are always cheaper than going out of town!


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