Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Loyalty

Loyalty to a particular retail store when it is not financially advantageous to you as a customer is something that I find perplexing. I can understand certain types of loyalty. Most every CD and DVD I buy comes from deepdiscount.com. The total cost of ordering from there is almost always just about as low as you can get; the few cents' difference is almost never worth the effort of even checking prices elsewhere. I am very loyal to them because it is advantageous to me and them. I know that I will get good prices, service, and selection by continuing to buy from them. Similarly, almost all computer parts I buy come from NewEgg. For board games, I usually buy from Boards and Bits, which has the best combination of prices, shipping, and availability—other online stores may have better prices (usually simply due to not charging sales tax), but B&B is rarely out of stock of the things I want, and overnight shipping is on the order of a couple dollars per order, so it's rarely worth making more than a cursory check of prices at other retailers.

All of those things make sense to me. What doesn't make sense to me is loyalty to a store simply because you've purchased there before, or for some other reason. It can be convenient to buy from the same place again and again; in Lincoln, I would generally buy groceries (this was a rare occurrence) at Russ's Market, where I was familiar with the locations of items, and checkout lines were short, even if prices weren't that great.

But what I find terribly bizarre usually comes up when discussing board games and camera equipment. There is a group of people who will willingly pay more money and endure additional inconvenience simply to order something from a local store versus buying online. They aren't scared of shopping online; they just feel that they should buy things from a local store when they can. I don't get this at all. I guess these people would rather see money going into the local economy, but I just don't think it makes sense. Prices for retail stores are simply higher than online stores for most things because overhead is lower. If that means that I'm going to buy from another state, then I'm going to buy from another state. I don't feel that it's my responsibility to try to go against the economic forces at work here. It doesn't make me feel good to buy from a local store; it makes me feel like a sucker. The only time I buy something locally is if I want it immediately, or if it would be inconvenient to buy online (furniture, certain items of clothing, etc.). I'm acting in my own best interests, making the purchasing decisions that I feel give me the most value, the way a good free-market-loving American should. If I'm contributing to a massive screw-up of the US economy, it's not my fault—the government is not properly incentivizing (or disincentivizing) my actions. And I don't think I am.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think loyalty all depends on the person. There are some places I won't shop, even if they have the best prices, simply because I do not believe in their labor practices. I view it as I am using my money to send these particular stores a message. However, I do not understand buying something local when you can get it WAY cheaper online (especially like you pointed out with camera equipment!) If the place is a reliable company and they have what I want for great prices - I am there.

Unknown said...

The thing I dislike about deepdiscountdvd is that the shipping may be free, but they send it via the slowest means available.

I just ordered a movie and it took 2 weeks before it arrived. Which I suppose is fine, but I was starting to get concerned that it wasn't going to arrive.

I'd rather go to amazon and have it (most likely) the next day because I have that prime membership which I should use because I paid for it.

I hate waiting for things.

Travis said...

It takes about the same length of time as Amazon's super saver shipping, which for me is usually only about four days from either place. Amazon charges tax, and Deep Discount doesn't. But if I had Prime, I'd be much more likely to order things from Amazon... I'd just have to remember that shipping is not FREE, I just pre-paid for it.