Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Giving Away the Store - To Amazon!

A simple thing to find at the store, no?  No.

In doing our laundry room/garage overhaul, I noticed the garage door seal is dried up and hard as a rock.  It lets water in, when there is a windy rain.  So I go to "elite garage floors" online and order a new door seal and the "tsunami" garage door threshold, which is a piece of rubber that glues to the floor and prevents water from getting in.

My credit card information is stolen the next day.

The next day, I go to "elite garage doors" website and google intervenes, warning me that the site is not secure and that my credit card information may be stolen there.   OK, good to know!

The "tsunami" kit comes with one tube of liquid nails polyurethane adhesive, and they are very specific  that it be polyurethane and not regular liquid nails.  Online reviews mention that the one tube provided is not enough to do a 16' garage door.

So off to Lowes, as we need ten sheets of 3/8" sheetrock for the ceiling anyway.   They don't have it - the liquid nails that is.  They have five different kinds of liquid nails, but not the polyurethane kind.   So, we go online to order.  Score:  Internet 1, Brick and Mortar, 0.

Online, Home Depot has it, but lists no price and cannot deliver it.   OK, so, no Home Depot.

Fucking Amazon has it.  $17 for two tubes.  One click ordering, free shipping (without Amazon Prime!) and no sales tax.   Fuck it, I have to order it from Amazon.  Damn you Jeff Bezos!  Damn your eyes!

Amazon isn't "taking over" retail - existing retailers are handing over the business to them, blindly.  Lowes and Home Depot think the Internet is some sort of fad that will blow over in a few years - like the Beatles or something.  They don't worry about losing a $17 sale, because, "it's only $17!" and they can afford to take the loss.

But can they?   Increasingly, when I want something off the beaten path, I have to go online.  I bought ten sheets of sheetrock today at Lowes - a commodity item they make little money on.  I needed something else, but they didn't have it and didn't seem interested in finding it.  Their online presence is basically nil.  Home Depot has a site, but good luck finding anything on it or using it.

The ironing board is a case in point.  As our laundry room project went over the top, we decided to put in a built-in ironing board.  Our old $10 over-the-door unit was shot.  We go to Home Depot and look for one - not there.  We ask an "associate" and they say, rather brusquely, "we don't carry those!"   We go online and find them on the Home Depot website - a $450 item, too!

But the site is flaky, and they only offer one door style and hinge style.  So, off to Wayfair - with higher prices, but exactly what you want.  In this case, Amazon loses, as all they have is cheap Chinese shit made out of cardboard and chip-board.   I want something strong enough to sit on -  I iron that hard.  The Iron-a-way has a metal board and metal mechanism.

It is interesting - in every case, one retailer isn't so much being taken advantage by the other, as they are just letting the other guy win.   The "big box" stores aren't leveraging their pedestrian traffic to make online sales - as they once tried to do.  I was in a Home Depot in Auburn, New York a decade ago, and couldn't find something I wanted.  An "associate" offered to order it online and have it shipped to my house, which he did - basically going onto the website and ordering it for me.   Today, I guess I could have used an "app" on my phone, but I suspect that the Lowe's and Home Depot apps are lame and useless and what's more, they don't carry what I need.

When you give away hundreds and hundreds of dollars in sales - thousands perhaps - with just one person, because you don't want the "hassle" of online sales, it is hard to feel sorry for you.  Our garage project is nearly complete and tomorrow is recycling day - and we have a stack of cardboard boxes at the end of the driveway, from online sales places.   More than half of our home improvement project was delivered by FedEx, UPS, or the USPS - and not from traditional "brick and mortar" stores like Home Depot or Lowes.

The President complains that Amazon has an "unfair advantage" over these companies.   The "unfair advantage" is perhaps giving a shit about making a sale.  Because when your only store is on the internet, you have to do the internet right - not as some side job that you think is just a distraction from the bottom line.

It's getting there.... slowly.

What it looked like before....