January 3, 2014

You should feel guilty for buying things online. Well, not really, but that's what retailers would like you to believe. Amazon and Ebay, perhaps the two defining faces of web retail since the dawn of the internet age have lured customers out of brick and mortar stores in droves. The backlash from the traditional outlets in the last year leads me to believe the economy of middle men 'retailers' is about to collapse. Desperation, fear, and the inability to gauge the strength of retail space have lead many brick and mortar shops to marketing campaigns intended to guilt you into walking through the doors. Guilt is a powerful emotion, but forcing that onto your consumers is not fair. These campaigns should be called out for what they are: logical fallacies.

I am not particularly interested in getting into the business of small retailers, or even large retail chains other than to highlight how they operate. Retailers work out an arrangement to buy merchandise at some unit cost for price X. The retailer then puts that product on the shelf for price Y. Price Y is usually derived from the item manufacturer's suggested retail price. When you, the customer buy that item you're paying a tax in the form of the product's markup in exchange for instant gratification. The markup covers the the sales associates' wages, employee benefits, loss prevention, etc. This is all reasonable, right? That shop has staff dedicated to managing this stuff, and in theory the money trickles down through the employees and spreads to the rest of the economy. If that item were to be purchased online, you'd be stealing money out of the pockets of those employees and small business owners and retarding the rest of the economy. Shame on you.

The world doesn't really work like that. Online retailers are also run by people, often times with many employees who also have bills to pay. Guilting customers into potentially paying more for equal, or worse service is reprehensible. It is easier to deal with change than it is to reject it.