Should We Care About Local Versus Global Retail?

05-13-2013 10:09 AM

Last week we reported on the changes at DV247, with the closure of their high street stores and a new global presence being run from a German company. It seems to have sparked some serious online debates with one blogger calling it “almost criminal”. Only those within the company know what really happened, but having been inside a company when insolvency practitioners arrived, I can tell you that they may operate within the letter of the law, but they make bankers look like angels when it comes to exercising moral and ethical judgements.
A few months ago the head of Tesco (for our US cousins read ‘Walmart’) when asked if seeing boarded-up shops made him sad said: “It does but it is part of progress. People are not made to shop in supermarkets, they choose to shop there.” If ever there was an example of a very clever man saying something utterly dumb, then perhaps this was it - talk about a self fulfilling prophecy. People shop in supermarkets because they have no choice!
Now let me be clear, I’m not one of those big is bad, little is good kind of people, however I’m also not one of those people who simply shrug their shoulders and say “it’s progress!”
Is it?
Progress for some seems to be defined as bigger, faster, cheaper. It’s actually thinking which is quite recent and born out of the industrial revolution, which has led us to be relentless global consumers at any cost. Even if that means Chinese workers have such poor working conditions they throw themselves off the roof of factories just so we can get a smart phone or hundreds of people are buried when a factory collapses, just so we can have a cheap t-shirt! If that’s progress then we are all screwed. There’s no such thing as zero cost, what I mean by this is that if something needs to be cheaper, then someone is going to have to pay, even if it isn’t you.
I’m not suggesting for one minute a connection between the recent DV247 situation and the death of workers in the third world, but what I am suggesting is that to get things at a lower price then someone always pays. In the case of DV247 it’s staff, suppliers and possibly customers.
However, let’s imagine that we just don’t care about those costs to others, then what about the cost to you and me?
I’ve made it no secret that I think there are a lot of local dealers who don’t deserve to be in business, they add no value in terms of service and support than me buying it mail order. However GOOD Local dealers matter for a number of reasons, they offer;

  • Great pre-sales advice
  • Demos
  • A relationship
  • Trouble shooting
  • Often similar pricing to large global companies
  • In house service

Those are just a few of the things you get, but there are more from a GOOD local dealer. They may cost a few pounds/dollars more in the short term, but that’s just for the box, what about all the value added stuff - surely that has a price? I recently saved £50 on a Mac Mini by buying mail order, it worked for 3 weeks and then went back to the dealer - the story from there on out is a painful one, I’m not sure I’ll ever see it again and every day I don’t have it costs me money as it’s part of my workflow - I can tell you right now it’s the most expensive £50 I’ve ever saved.
Should we care if local dealers disappear? Look at that list and you decide and then vote with your wallet.