At a recent industry conference one of the presenters expressed his views on the new way we shop. According to him we no longer walk into a store to speak with a salesperson, rather we investigate, research, and finally buy everything from refrigerators to televisions to cars…online. His pronouncement was rewarded with general agreement from the audience.
Now, I’m no Luddite, at least I hope not, but I was reminded of this most certain declaration over the recent holiday weekend. There were ads for cars, appliances, flat screen TVs and any number of other items. And all of them were from ‘brick and mortar’ retailers. Sure, they may just be trying to direct you to their web sites to buy online but, if that is the case, why were there articles about car dealerships spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, in some cases millions, to upgrade their facilities, build new ones and in every case make the customer experience more convivial?
Of course people buy online, but on web sites you can’t test drive the car of your dreams, inspect the attributes of your prospective refrigerator or washer/dryer, or see which new television offers the best picture for your individual taste. And hearing is a totally separate subject. When was the last time a true audiophile chose the amplifier and speakers for their new, state of the art system, based upon a blog entry? Research may begin online, but commerce still often occurs between real people.
All of this is to say that even though our industry, and our beliefs, may be changing, many human attributes remain the same. Sometimes I think we get caught up in the hubris of believing that, what we believe to be, what our coworkers reinforce, is the absolute truth. Absolutes are always dangerous, and when they project our convictions onto a buying public that may not be in sync with our “better knowledge”, we run the risk of outrunning our markets.
President, Goodman Marketing Communications
Vice President, Sales Lead Management Association