Friday, April 9, 2010

Stereophile Article from 1983 offers many relevant insights

A terrific article from the Stereophile archives made it to the web site's front page recently. J.Gordon Holt explains why smaller manufacturers of audio equipment for the most part make superior performing gear. What really struck me as interesting however was this quote that referred to "mail order" audio dealers.

Such stores are the ideal buying sources for serious audiophiles who don't happen to live near a nest of high-end dealers. In fact, mail-ordering components will often result in greater satisfaction with your purchases than buying them from a local store, because you have the opportunity to live with a component before making a decision to buy.

Substitute the word "internet dealer" with "mail order" and you can pretty much get the same meaning for today. If only everyone would see it that way.

The sad truth however is that today many manufacturers shun any business they consider an "internet dealer" out of fear that their brand will be destroyed by deep discounts that (in their mind) every "internet dealer" offers. Never mind the fact that 90% of "brick and mortar" dealers have web sites with contact information listed, and the fact that it is just as easy for a customer to call the "brick and mortar" as it is the "internet dealer". In fact it happens quite a lot. Nobody buys expensive audio gear online without talking to someone representing that business offering the gear first. Nobody.

In fact, one of the most offensive, egregious deep discounters in audio is a brick and mortar shop that does not have an e-commerce enabled web site. They have a standard site that allows buyers to contact them via email or phone. They openly solicit dealers to sell their excess inventory to them with the promise to protect the offending dealer from scrutiny by the manufacturer. Yep, most manufacturers would classify this dealer as brick and mortar with a web site, and that would be just dandy.

The criteria for selecting a dealer for your product should be the integrity of the people you are doing business with, not whether or not they pay a lease on retail space. /rant.

1 comment:

  1. I see this trend changing, especially with new audiophile manufacturers that have not already built their business around a particular distribution model. More and more products are being purchased via internet and not just low-cost ones: automobiles, boats, jewelry, etc. Pay online and it's at your house a few days later - what's not to like?