The internet made me do it – not!

Shopping in real shops, like talking to real people, is on the way out.  The internet told me so!

According to this analysis, almost all smartphone users – 96% of us – plan to “showroom” for our future purchases, taking advantage of the physical stores to test out, try on, touch and feel the wares, and perhaps even tap into the expertise of the staff, before buying online, from whoever gives us the best price.

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Yes, that’s me – a savvy shopper, I hear myself say.

But take heart, all you retailers, and retail staff out there – if you lose me, it won’t be because the internet made me do it.  It will be because you drove me to it!

While there are, no doubt, people who can’t afford to pay the real price, and people who are offended by the massive mark-ups they perceive local retailers to be taking on products they can buy offshore for literally half the price, I believe that most shoppers genuinely do want to support our local retailers…  but sometimes you just make it so very hard to love you.

But this is not a story about poor service, or lack of range.  Quite the opposite.

This week, I bought a camera.  Not a run-of-the-mill, point and click, instant camera, but a serious camera to replace my trusty, long-serving Nikon D100, one of the very first, ultimate digital SLR models that cost an arm and a leg way back when.  After nearly 30 years, replacing this camera was not done lightly…  months of research, bemusement at the vast array of options, amazement at how much prices have reduced, all led to one conclusion.

You need to go to a shop and have a look at the actual cameras.  Will my lenses transfer, how much can I reduce the weight, what does half this stuff mean?  No, I am not a ‘professional’ photographer, just one that has been incredibly spoilt by having great equipment in the past.

And so, on an otherwise uneventful Monday, I ended up in Camera & Camera on Queen Street – the place I associate with buying camera gear.  There, I met the lovely Keith.  He was patient, informative, knowledgeable without being condescending, encouraging me to consider my options, assuring me I actually only needed a camera body, but also showing me how far lens technology has come.  On the side, some great advice on a slide scanner for my husband, who has another project in mind.

Now, I knew (and he probably knew too) that a quick look at any of the best buys site would mean I could just head off down the road, and order camera from a highly-reviewed online retailer, with certain savings.  And I’m pretty sure he thought that’s what was happening when I suggested to my husband we go for a quick coffee and a chat before making a decision.

But you know what?  I couldn’t do it.  A quick coffee later, and we were back – thanks Keith!  You proved that great retail experiences are worth paying for (although others may think you just proved that I’m a gullible consumer, with too much money to spend).  I got a great camera, for a price I was willing to pay, with the reassurance that if anything goes wrong (or even if I just need help), I can just head on back to my local camera store, talk to the trusty Keith who’s been there for years, and he’ll be there for me.  I bought from a real store – after doing all my research online, and checking the prices online, that real person made me do it!



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