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Is Your On-line Shopping Hurting  Your Home Town Small Business?

Yesterday was Small Business Saturday I the United States. I choose to NOT follow the crazy crowd  standing in long line  trying to save a buck. This post will share my opinion on what I think is an insane shopping trend with some a warning that you may be very sorry for your shopping habits.

Intead of shopping the big box stores, I  spent the day vounteering to encourage kids to do a cheap little crafts for free while parents and grandparents shopped in a local small business;  Kid Consignment.

I believe we all need to shop local small business first before we shop on-line so I love to support local stores. I see the current shoppng trends as very dangerous habit to stop right now before it is too late.

 

Is your On-line Shopping Hurting  Your Home Town Small Business?

While we all like to save a buck and stretch our family budget I know that unless consumers wise up to the current shopping trends on-line they will regret the loss of their favorite  home town shops. Mom and Pop hometown business who gave so much service to their communites were forced close when the WAL Marts opened way back when. The one mega stop shop cahnged forever the family small business that America grew up with.

Do you remember when all the stores on the town square closed in your home town in the late ’80’s and 90”s? Wal mart had  power from buying bulk wholesale nventory in large amounts at one time from suppilers that small store can’t do. This opened up more opportunites for the consumer to purchase waht they wanted when they wanted at the prices they loved. ( On-line shopping has opened up Pandora Box of more choices as well.)

In the late 80’s and 90’s residents went out to the new Walmarts to buy, instead of shopping at the local Pigley Wiggley and JC Penny who closed on Sundays for church. But Wal mart was open in th enext county. So after church Dad and Mom loaded the kids in the car to drive 30 miles to shope at Walmart on Sunday…after church of course.)

As Americans we can shop where we chose. It is our right.

BUT, home town folks, came back to local shop owners for service on the cheaper stuff they got at Walmart asking the shop owner to fix the junk for FREE like they always had done on ther product Pop sold.

Now, really, how do American expect to have your neighobhood shop owner repair anything for you for FREE  without spending a dime to support keeping that mom and pop store in business? The current trends of buying on-line first may be in the same rude ball park.

Now even Walmart may be suffering unless they figure out how to compete with Amazon and its newest partner Wholefoods..

The way we do busines is changing. but is it good or bad overall?

Even discount retailing giant Wal-Mart isn’t safe from the competition from online retail. In January 2016, the chain announced it would close 269 stores worldwide, including 154 U.S. locations. As it moves to grow its online business, Wal-Mart has since agreed to acquire web retailer Jet.com for $3.3 billion.

http://www.bankrate.com/lifestyle/8-retail-chains-closing-hundreds-of-stores-in-2016/?myfi=1#slide=3

 

Right now, with the Amazon and EBay on-line sales competing for your $$$ dollars every brick and mortar small business owners may be forgotten until we as customers want the friendly service our local stores offer.

Where do you compare prices?

In 2016 I not only heard and read about shoppers trending bad habits I witnessed it myself. Comparing prices is something we all do. My concern is: At WHOSE EXPENSE are we comparing prices?

Bad Habit?

Aparently the trend last year in 2016 was to WINDOW SHOP tthe local stores.

There is nothing WRONG with window shopping with the kids. In fact it is a very good idea unless…

….you let the kids rip open packages; scatter merchandise around the floors; annoy serious shoppers…because you are too busy letting your tumbs do the walking comparing prices with your FREE cost compare APP then ORDERING online from someone who don’t know while standing in your neighobr’s store.. Then you use their restroom,with out ever spending any money in that store?

That is so WRONG!

  • Don’t even think about the stores insurance covering the damage. things like breakage and shop lifting are configured into the prices we already pay. If LOSSES were less the prices we pay would be less.
  • Did you know that even Walmart has to configure in an awful % into the price consumers pay due to losses from shop lifting. Shop lifting is not really a victimless crime.
  • Yes, Wal mart also pays salary to security you do see when you shop….oh wait! I just realized that on-line stores don’t have to pay for secret shopper security staff. That is huge savings for the consumer in addiiton to low overhead. WOW that is big boom for the American Dream!

…AND your mother does not work in that store! Some one has to clean up and expects to be paid. Most moms clean house for free.

BIG MISTAKE! HUGE! 

Retail sales  for local all small business lost a tremendous amount of sales last year last.  The signs of the times is this trend  will be worse.in 2017.

Hits hard too close to home!

Too many local store owners and employees who gave amazing customer experiences closed down due to losing sales to the on-line offering FREE SHIPPING an discounted prices. This means potential loss of local jobs for your family; friends, neighbors and even YOU!

if not YOU… you will be affected some how eventually..

I hope we all start thinking about the consequences of not buying from your comunity stores. How many of us who love the conveinence of ordering on-line are ready to sacrifice not being able to run to the coner drug store for toilet paper or liquid Tylenol when the kids are really, really sick?

Back inn the late 80’s when I owned a brick and mortar and Wal Mart had just come to town, I sold a lot of cake decorating supplies along with fun stuff for kids. It was not unheard of for a cake decorator to call me at 2 in the monring.”Help! I have to set up a wedding cake at 7 am. My husband just turned on the garbage disposeable with my icing tips.Can open up and sell me the tips I just lost?”

So I owuld drive t my store and sell them what they needed. ” But what irked me was when the cake decorator aske me for a discount because they they just spent $300 ordering on sale for the Wilton catalog. Why did not ot buy from me? Because it never put ti together all ther free service I gave them. I guess taht was my lack of marketing..

 

Don’t take my snarky word for it. Read short quotes then CLICK the links to read the facts:

Macy’s, the nation’s largest department store company, began 2016 by shuttering 40 stores. It later announced plans to close 100 more, one of many moves by retailers to stave off financial struggles. As more shoppers flock to the convenience of online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores are shutting down nationwide. Besides Macy’s, we take a look at seven other chains that announced lots of store closings in 2016.

http://time.com/money/4386499/retail-stores-closing-locations/

 

 

http://247wallst.com/special-report/2016/03/08/9-retailers-closing-the-most-stores/

American brick-and-mortar retailers have had to make significant adjustments, and often this involves closing down stores. Major retailers such as Walgreens, Sports Authority, and even Walmart plan on closing at least 100 stores in the next year or so.

Companies close stores for different reasons. In some cases, the shuttering of a particular store may be the product of nothing more than optimization and not the signal of a serious crisis. In the case of Office Depot, which is in the process of closing approximately 400 locations due to its 2013 merger with OfficeMax, the new company is going through the process of consolidating operations and closing down excess stores.

http://247wallst.com/special-report/2016/03/08/9-retailers-closing-the-most-stores/

 

Read MoreBlame Amazon for the Retail Slump

Still, some physical store closings are not a sign of troubled times, but rather the sacrifices necessary to achieve greater profitability. That’s the case with drug store chain Walgreens, which prepared to sell off more than 1,000 in order to seal a lucrative merger with competitor Rite Aid.

 

Competition for Similar Goods?

I would have been pretty stupid to start an on-line store trying to compete with the brick and mortar down the block. But is seems plently of folks ARE trying to beat prices of the local stores including Wal mart, who I do appreciate having almost eveything I need I their shelves in a one stop shopping trip. that is a good hting when one rides the bus versus driving to the store.

Competition is actually good for business. And, isn’t is wonderful that we as Americans can compare the pick and chose from what we determine is best for us?

Personally, I just closed my on-line specialty store Heart Felt Play Store where I sold *small quantities of dress-up clothes and sensory play items that you can’t  find just anywhere. My store really was not competing with local shops.

What I carried was not in high demand every day. but when you need a dragon tail to wear, you need it! Neighter Safe Way  nor ACE Hardware across the street sell dragon tails. The Walmart 1/2 mile away does not sell dinosaur tattoos either. But when a kid really want disnoaur tattoos for a birthday party favor bag, then mom ordered from my on-line store via a Buyable PIn.  Now that is amaaingly wonderful thing about finding what you need on-line.

  • Heart Felt Play Store met the needs of a very small well defined niche. It was never meant to be high volume.
  • My over head was very low. I could deduct one bedroom  in our apartment for business purposes. My business was enjoyable and managable for me.

When caring for my disabled adult son got too much to handle along with my on-line shop, I chose to close shop  rather than send him to a nursing home.  I did NOT want hire employees at this time.. An employee would have to be paid thus forcing prices to raise to cover the salary.

Plus another emplyee in our apartment would invade our privacy in our home based business.

  • Besides I saw some very disturbing things going on with trending on-line sales.

I know that most consumers do not have a clue that the cheapest prices with free shipping may not be the best buy after all. I will address my insights a little further down in my verbose post.

 

Why  my on-line specialty shop was not a competition for local stores.

I purchased my inventory from a large warehouse that sells in bulk as I did when I owned my brick an mortar store.

Allow me to explain a few things from the back side of  retail

  • *Selling small quantities of things like 3 pigs nose or  dinsour masks is not cost effective for most most brick and mortar retail stores. Really how often you really NEED a pig nose?  You don’t. But when you need one, you need it, failry quickly. Most likely you don’t want a gross of noses. Re-packaging in samll amounts to keep product clean adds to the price the customer pays.

In order for a business to pay expences like

  1. over head; building; ultilities; restrooms
  2. employee salaries and benefits

The retailer must sell merchandise that will sell and turn over fairly quickly. I loved to do the speciality items, which is more a a risk that makes a brand unique.

If the product in the warehouses are not being sold in the stores to make a profit THAT is what may go on SALE for BLACK FRIDAY. The consumer is willing to comprimise for short life warrenty in exchange for a cheaper price.

 

Think about it! Big Box retail is NOT really caring about your budget.

They care about making a profit. business must make a profit in order to stay open and keep making a profit. Making a profit does not necesarrily mean the store owners are living in the lap of luxery rich.

. If they can’t sell what they have in stock they loose money-they close their doors– people loose their jobs and all benefits- families file bankruptcy; go homeless….all because their employer went out of business. ( Brief mention that Toys are US can’t pay their suppliers. How are those big toy makers supposed to pay their employees?)

Local Small Businesses must make a profit to earn a living. This does not mean a local business person is rich. Many business owners have to have a 2nd job to keep things going, believe it or not.

 

What on-line shops don’t want you to know…

I’ve been blogging quite a few years.  I was really dumb when I started on-line. After I published my first novel…

…oh, don’t be impressed. I did it ALL WRONG and I was under prepared. But I learned how to self promote and market online even tho’ I sitll can’t type…I   had a great  start when I decided to open my little on-line shop 2 years ago. ( I oculd stil be at hoe to care for my son and use one room for inventory.).

I took my time when I chose a very reputable business to join to sell through Shopify..

  • The payment portal in this system is awesome and secured. ( But is every on-line shop with cheaper prices that secure? How do know? If  Equifax can get hacked…know what I am thinking?)
  • The templates for the best store looks were reasonably priced and very functional. ( Are all on-line store easy to navigate? Why or why not?)
  •  The behind the scence support was awesome. (And great as the system I contracted with, I had personally had no 24/ 7 backup for customer questions on the messenger when I was sleeping or at a doctor appointment.

 

Not answering a private message druing no busiens hurs did not mean my shop was a “SCAM” like one mom spammed me accusations “It has been 15 minutes and no answet to my message. It has been 20 minutes and still you are nto answering my message…..Are you a SCAM?”… 20 more pm later.

The woman did not bother to read the store policy statements.that Heart Felt Play Store was a one grand ma operation.

When I talked to the mom she wanted me to expedite shipping on me because her son birthday was in 3 days and it had to be perfect or esle.

i was really sick, but I walked 3 miles to the post office on ice and huge snow drefts to pay the extra fast fees to get what she wanted asap. Taht was when I cahnged my store policies to state, “tho most order happily arrive in 3 to 5 business day, please allow up to 2 weeks for delivery in case of Murphy’s law, or bad weather.”

  • When you buy on-line for a specific event on a specific date, do NOT expect fast food drive through service.
  • Always read the ABOUT page and store policies before you hit the buy button. If there is NO ABOUT page or listed store policies, think twice before ordering. You can also check to see waht the host company is for the store.Or check with BBB. )
  • The company I set up my independant shop through  Shopify has a contract with Pinterest for BUYABLE PINS. Now that establishes a lot of credibility for my shop and every other Shopify Store.  But that may not be the case with every other on-line store.
  • I can’t say enough good things about the  company I set up my shop with. (Shopify)

This amazing company entered into parternships with other good companies  opening so many avenues for individual shop owners to easliy combine their shops with Amazon and Ebay. WOW! These mergers are giving local small business a run for their money when their competitors are on-line.

It remains to be seen whether  or not millions of  more on-line shops will be good or bad for over all  economy in individual communities in the US.

If I was younger without the responcibility of a disabled adult child, I would jump on these on-line parntership as a postive growth with my small niche. But, I saw some problem for me.

  1. I would have to raise my prices or sell in larger volume to accomodate the payment extra portal fees to pay a sort of commiision. (I lose on credit card fees assesed ot me and even more on Pay Pal fees. Not complaining, really about paying another business for banking fees. but there is s big sting when the postage and banking fees total more than the small order I gladly fullfilled for my customers. There is cost to doing business that customers don’t see. )
  2. I would have to refuse small quantity sales to accomodate for the consumer demanding FREE SHIPPING. The mail man expects to paid.
  3. The grand kids aren’t old enough yet to stay up late a night proessing orders when my sales increased another level. The kids need to play, not work for me. Nor will they delay their childhood until I have time.
  4. Drop shipping was a possiblity to connect my shop to. I decided to not risk. my reputation.

WARNING on DROP SHIPPING fo Consumers

I got into some secret Facebook groups not in partner ship with the reputable company thIt I had set up my shop through. I very quickly got out of those groups after feeling shocked. I want to warn my followers of a few bad things I learned about.

  1. Don’t assume your on-line order is being sent from a directly from Amazon nor Ebay. it may be drop – shipped and float on slow boat from China for weeks before the delivery company gets it in their hands.The suppliers DO have contracts with these on-line businesses in order to use all the nessesary portals needed to do business including payment portals. But, you don’t know the business.
  2. Can you track down the on-line business sellign thorugh a portal? One easy way might be to see if they have a website? (Personally, I write  this old typ-o riddled blog about myself and my family. This blog was conencted to my on-line Heart Felt Play Store; Facebook pages and Pinterest account.  I can be Googled!)
  3. Drop shipping is being a trend with on-line stores. But that does no mean they are a reputable business you can hold accountable or even find.
  • Do know really know that the product you are paying for meets AMERICAN safety standards?

No, you don’t know where know who manufactured a product. Only 2% of American clothes are manufacrured in the US for example. It is probably less for toys.

 

READ CAREFULLY BEFORE BUYING TOYS ON-LINE

  • When we are takling about toys for kids, the large US retailers know who exactly the products they plan on selling.
  • US retailers goods are manufactured over seas where some one probably gets paid a rediculously low wage of some thing like 3 cents an item. Amercian workers by law have to paid at least minimum wage and health insurance.
  • US companies  and major whole sale suppliers ship their their product line here to their warehouses in the US from manufactures they know.
  • US companies selling goods for children must meet safety standards. There is a high degress of safety when you buy from a long established company.- Yes, you WILL pay more.

Examples: On occasion a toy company learns that a manufacturer used cheaper paint containing lead or the design turns out to be a strangulation hazard the company has mean to asssist in a goverment RECALL.

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BUT…

When you buy from a “business” who DROP SHIPS  through on-line sales the consumer may NOT ever know how to track down who was responcilbe for an unsafe product.

  • How will you know that the CHEAPER product with FREE shipping is NOT an UNSAFE knock off?
  • You will NOT ever see a RECALL notice from someone overseas who illegally coppied a toy to sell ofr a cheaper price.
  • Has anyone done a background check or asked for references to strat an n-line store?

We  DO NOT know the answers to many questions becasue we don’t bother to seek an answer.

We parents and grand parents know how much the kids love the registered characters the children have seen in popular movies and cartoons.

Kids wants the PJ’s , the toys; the hat, the lunch box…

Some on owns the rights to a registered charater. When a product with an image of a resgistered cahracter is sold who ever owns it or whose image it is SHOULD be paid a royality. That is why the price is higher than we want to pay.

In comes a foreign manufacturer who sees $$$ drop shipping to Rich Americans”.. Without permission an over seas company rips off images to manufacture as cheaply ass possible.  All they need is an American to sell on-line for them to arrange the legimate looking DROP-SHIP.

WARNING!

With DROP -SHIPPING many drop shippiers never see a sample of the product.

I was contacted and referred to some big companies who have a large catalog of inventory from what seems to be 100’s of thousands of Asian suppliers with multiple Asian manufactures. The potential on-line retailer simply picks and chooses what products they wanted to list for sale online under their name.

I spent a long time looking for product to enhance my store product line beyond my long time trusted US supplier who has an AMERICAN warehouse where I got my merchandise..

The potential Dropp-shipping Business could see how long each company had been in business ( Many I looked at were very young with little business history.) I could also see ratings from business who had used a particular Asian supplier. Some were very good while many had terrible review ratings. Really, how many reviews do you know you can trust in the first place? ( Keep in mind, this blog post is my opinion.)

The final straw to turn me off from drop – shipping was that I coudl not find even one let alone 2 suppliers tt carried more than a few products I wanted.

I did search for specific items. for example I searched for kids clhtes with animals. there was a wealth of products with cats, dogs, horses, monkey on socks and t-shirts. But, I would have to order from multiple companies. As a business owner I demand having the privilege of building a trusting relationship with my suppliers.I did not see a way to find out if I oculd trust a company to send a decent prodcut in a reasonabe i ottime to my treasured customers.

(Please bear with me on my verbose description. i don’t do business that way. but I have to saw it does save a small business money-more profit- when you don’t have to have a place to warehouse product that you may or may not sell…Are you following me ?)

I read in many of these secret drop-shipping support groups that folks looking to cash in the wealth of drop shipping had quickly set up shop by connecting to popular established on-line portals for an investment as low as only $30 for the on-line store front. NO investment in even a SAMPLE!

The the apealling aspect of drop shipping for a business owner is profitablity from no overhead for warehousing of potential sales on goods.

I was horriified with comments and advise from so called drop ship trainers!

One consistent statement from large Drop Shipping companies trainers  that recruit  businesses for drop shipping was this, ” If the customer really wants the product they don’t mind waiting for it.” I disagreed on this for my customers.

No child wants to wait an extra month or 2 for a birthday or Christmas present!

More things I gleaned from drop ship training groups.

  1. Potential shop owners were being told that they did not need a business licence or EIN. ( This says to me that they do not intend to be a legal business that can be tracked down.)
  2. New Drop shippers were desperate to know how to handle unexpected complaints from customers of shoddey workmanship. The secret Facebook group members  never saw any samples at all. How are they supposed to do returns to Asian countries with no retun address
  3. Another concern the members in some of these secret support groups on Facebook often wrote was that their costumers were complaining that after 8 weeks their orders had not been delivered. (OUCH! so much for not investing in any inventory!) customers are demanding money back, but the “store owner” spent it and don’t want to refund anything.
  4. Several of the secret groups I joined and quickly quit, ended up with the same admin. This guys ends up stating that he had closed as many as 5 on-line shops. Now, how is he supposed to be an expert giving other “newbies” advice?
  5. The words “Secret” and “anymous” are real scarey to me. i prefer to do business with people who have proof they can be trusted. of course training should be done in closed groups. But, haven;t we learned you can’t trust every one who follows us on Facebook?

BTW: Secret Facebook groups are not secret from investigators. Key words used will alert administrators behind the scenes at Facebook who by law are bound to work with govermenatl agencies.

What I have stated is only my OPINION from what I read. There are reputable on-line businesses through Amazon and Ebay.

I’m not saying every on-line purchase will be a problem at all. My opinionated point is that I don’t think most people know for sure how to be check out a legitimate on-line business. We have become too trusting of strangers. because we want to save a buck.

And when we get FREE shipping we don’t realize that shipping was not free as we thought. We paid for the delivery in the price. Amazon taught us all a trick that is deceptive. I don’t like the craziness is caused in the long run. It is past time the Americna consumer wakes up to marketing tactics before all the stores in town close.

There is an expression, that goes something like this, ” if someon offers you a diamond ring for 10 cents, chances are that diamond is no worth a dime.”

Last comment on deliveries to your door versus going out to shop.

Having clothes, electronics; books et delivered ot your door is a wondeerfu conveience. I’m usre the UPS  or Fed Ex guys is loving the steady paycheck, too.

Theeves are loving the convienince of packages on your door step, too.

(i know! I am such a party pooper for mentioning that all your on-line money saving deal can get stolen.)

In October i re-started the door to door delivery of organic foods  from a local distributor. We had not place any orders since we moved. Our old  delivery guy knew that my son is in a power wheelchair. It takes a bit fo rhim to turn on the chair and manuever to answer the door if I’m not home. the delivery guy knew to follow instructions: knock loudly: open the door and hollar, “David, here are your groceries.” The same goes for the delivery of monthl medical supplies.

Well, the new gal did not fully follow imy standing instructions. She knocked lightly. My son responded, but by the teme he got  the door opened no one was there. I came in the patio door a few mintues later. I checked the hall, but there was nothing.

Later our next door apartment neighbor asked if we got our delivery ok. She was unlocking her door when a gal delivered the box. We trust her to take any deliveries we get when we aren’t home.

Apparently our groceiries were stolen as soon as our neighbor went in her door and no one was looking. That took only minutes for a thief to grab our package. And our building has a lock with a code to get in. Other neighobrs have gotten their Amazon orders stollen, too ina rash of thefts.

Point is: thieves are watcing the delivery trucks ready to grab and go then re-sell the contents. Make arrangements for alerternate deiivery of Christmas gifts if you are not home. Be sure the package is insured or you are out of luck.

 

This points expressed are the opinion of Malika Bourne.

Please do research on your own before deciding what is the best way for you to shop. The links I shared are to get you started making your own imformed choices..

3 Responses to Is Your On-line Shopping Hurting  Your Home Town Small Business?

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