Liberal Return Policies vs. "has my camera been used?": A way to Solve This

Started May 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
Marty4650 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,600
Re: Just another nail in their coffin

ne beginner wrote:

Marty4650 wrote:

In my view, the real solution is to allow returns for defects only, and not for "I changed my mind."

So the B&M ... Buy and try might be the only advantage they have left, but it will drive their costs even higher. This is a no win situation for them.

These two comments seem to at odds. I'm sure I'm misunderstanding you. Can you elaborate a little? You have made a lot of great points, I'd like to understand this better.

What I stated was a paradox. The B&M store can have a substantial advantage over online vendors by having the most generous return policies. But, if they do this, they will only drive their costs even higher, creating another disadvantage for them.

So either way, they lose.

I really think the B&M camera shop is headed fast for extinction. Much like the bookstores, record shops, and other specialty shops you used to see at your local mall. There are just way too many advantages for online vendors:

  • in many cases... no sales tax, creating a buyer's incentive
  • much lower payroll costs
  • complete automation of sales, no commissions to pay
  • much lower rent cost per item sold
  • much better prices from suppliers, due to volumes
  • much larger inventories

Would a very liberal return policy negate all of the above? I doubt it, since most buyers don't need a "no questions asked" return policy. The only buyers who actually need this are the buy and try crowd, and those are customers who actually cost YOU money. So why would you do anything to attract more of them?

I knew it was over for B&M camera shops the day I tried to buy a very popular DSLR from them, and the salesman said "we don't have it in stock, but I can order one for you." I thought, "I can order it myself, and save $100." So unless they can keep a full inventory in stock, they even lose the advantage of "impulse purchases."

Naturally, there will always be a few huge B&M stores in the largest cities. The stores that cater to specialty markets and professional photographers. In might interest you to know that B&H in Manhattan sells an awful lot of pro video and pro audio gear, since there is a substantial industry there.

But the Ritz Camera, or mom and pop camera small store business plan is in real trouble today. They are all struggling, barely keeping their heads above water.

The very last thing they need is to cultivate customers who buy cameras, try them out, then return them, so folks like you can demand deep discounts and label them as unethical if they don't cut the price.

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