'Mrs MSE's a Robo-shopper!' blog discussion

edited 3 September 2010 at 1:46PM in Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News
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This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.


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  • JimmyTheWigJimmyTheWig Forumite
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    Depends on the cost of shipping.
  • nomoneytodaynomoneytoday Forumite
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    If no one buys in store then they will close many branches, leading to local unemployment :(
  • groovygavgroovygav Forumite
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    If no one buys in store then they will close many branches, leading to local unemployment :(

    That was my first thought too. But for the kind of goods Martin is specifically talking about, like clothes and furniture, I think the story may be different. Stores that choose to remain open on high streets and in shopping centres may get a competitive advantage over those that decide to switch to a purely online sales experience.

    Of course if the online-only stores are significantly cheaper they could take advantage of the bricks-and-mortar ones acting as a showroom for them too. But the whole story is probably a very complex one, I can think of a whole bunch of swings and roundabouts that I just don't have time to describe fully here.

    I think the future of retail is looking very interesting. There have always been winners and losers, though, and this shopping revolution / evolution will just be a continuation of that constant truth.
  • I could have bought my new washing machine cheaper online. Instead I bought it from the nice man from the local shop who had recommended the model as very reliable (of course I double checked the recommendation on online review sites!), who has been out free of charge to look at my other washing machine over the years, who delivered my new washing machine free, installed it, gave me a user demonstration, took my old one away and whose shop is in my town and whose phone number for repairs and advice is in the phone book.
    After so many negative experiences (when goods aren't right, either initially or after a few months) with the big retailers and the online box shifters, I prefer to pay the premium for a relationship with a real person who gives a damn. It's also often moneysaving in the long run as you get things done for free without hassle for being a 'good customer'. Having said that, I treat every purchasing decision on a 'case by case' basis. Books etc I tend to get online after having been to the shop to have a comfortable, 'tactile' browse.
    I'm a moneysaver - but cheap is not always better in the bigger picture.
    Waddle you do eh?
  • catfleacatflea Forumite
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    The other thing is the "need it now" moments. Which tends to be all the ruddy time with me :o
    Proud of who, and what, I am. :female::male:
    :cool:
  • lewisalewisa Forumite
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    maybird wrote: »
    I could have bought my new washing machine cheaper online. Instead I bought it from the nice man from the local shop who had recommended the model as very reliable ....


    That sort of thing happens to small on-line companies who are faced with the compatition of bigger online players.

    Customer phones you, asks lots of questions about a product, then says 'Amazon are £10 cheaper can you match them?

    They generally get told... "No, call Amazon and ask them the questions next time, oh yeah, you cant call them can you. Buy it from Amazon and good luck when you need help in the future, bye."
  • I have to wonder how you'd feel if you or a family member ran a small bricks-and-mortar shop, gave assistance, advice and a friendly smile to a potential customer, only to lose the sale when they knew they could save a few quid online. It's not a way I prefer to treat people, so if I'm browsing for something in a shop and like it, I'll normally buy it there and reward good service (or pass if the service is shoddy).

    Not with everything, however - I wouldn't mind too much if high street CD/DVD shops went out of business, for example, as I can try their products online before I buy it anywhere - all they're selling are digital reproductions of a source recording, and you can get that from anywhere. But what if bookshops all went out of business, for example? You'd have to take chances on their tactile charm, not knowing whether the content or font or paper quality was what you were expecting or hoping for. You'd have to rely on product descriptions on websites, and we all know how scant they can be.

    Let me put it another way. Would you test drive a vehicle or try out a musical instrument, only to buy a different one of the same model online? Because the BMW, saxophone or guitar you'll end up with will often be completely different from the one you had a go on previously. There's variation in all things, and it pays (yes, pays) to know just what you're getting.

    Martin wrote: "As we’ve nearly a complete complement of bricks and clicks stores (i.e. those which have both a high street and online presence), with the likes of Gap and Banana Republic following suit, I suspect as more people learn their rights this will become the age of the Robo-shopper, leaving some high street stores more like showrooms than actual transaction destinations."

    Yes, if all you want in your town and cities are chain stores. Independent shops can make a welcome change from these. Do you really want homogeneity right across the country? Because that's exactly what you'll get if you carry on browsing in-store and buying online. Plus, it costs a lot of money to rent a high street premises. If these are loss-making it'll only be a matter of time before they become boarded up. I realise what this site's all about, but sometimes you have to see the bigger picture rather than just saving the odd pound here and there.
  • MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
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    gorky5 wrote: »
    I have to wonder how you'd feel if you or a family member ran a small bricks-and-mortar shop, gave assistance, advice and a friendly smile to a potential customer, only to lose the sale when they knew they could save a few quid online. It's not a way I prefer to treat people, so if I'm browsing for something in a shop and like it, I'll normally buy it there and reward good service (or pass if the service is shoddy).

    Not with everything, however - I wouldn't mind too much if high street CD/DVD shops went out of business, for example, as I can try their products online before I buy it anywhere - all they're selling are digital reproductions of a source recording, and you can get that from anywhere. But what if bookshops all went out of business, for example? You'd have to take chances on their tactile charm, not knowing whether the content or font or paper quality was what you were expecting or hoping for. You'd have to rely on product descriptions on websites, and we all know how scant they can be.

    Let me put it another way. Would you test drive a vehicle or try out a musical instrument, only to buy a different one of the same model online? Because the BMW, saxophone or guitar you'll end up with will often be completely different from the one you had a go on previously. There's variation in all things, and it pays (yes, pays) to know just what you're getting.

    Martin wrote: "As we’ve nearly a complete complement of bricks and clicks stores (i.e. those which have both a high street and online presence), with the likes of Gap and Banana Republic following suit, I suspect as more people learn their rights this will become the age of the Robo-shopper, leaving some high street stores more like showrooms than actual transaction destinations."

    Yes, if all you want in your town and cities are chain stores. Independent shops can make a welcome change from these. Do you really want homogeneity right across the country? Because that's exactly what you'll get if you carry on browsing in-store and buying online. Plus, it costs a lot of money to rent a high street premises. If these are loss-making it'll only be a matter of time before they become boarded up. I realise what this site's all about, but sometimes you have to see the bigger picture rather than just saving the odd pound here and there.


    Im not quite sure I follow the logic.

    If you're buying from an independent store with different stock and service you can't Robo it anyway. The entire premise of this blog is about bricks and clicks stores.

    If what you're saying is that if the high street stores become primarily show rooms that'll have an impact on other stores - then I accept it to an extent.

    Yet frankly people need to accept interenet shopping is here and is popular. I don't see it killing the high street any more than TV killed radio, or the web killed newspapers. It will have an effect and the Robo shopper is an element of that - consumer demand and choice will drive this.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • JimmyTheWigJimmyTheWig Forumite
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    MSE_Martin wrote: »
    consumer demand and choice will drive this.
    But what is good for the individual (which drives consumer choice) isn't always good for the whole. Not a lot you can do about it, but I still think it's a point worth making.
  • Beware:- the Distance Selling Regulations don't normally apply if you look at the goods in a shop but then buy the same goods from the same retailer online. See paragraph 2.13, page 7 of http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/business_leaflets/general/oft698.pdf
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