It’s been nearly three weeks since I announced my New Zealand only apparel purchasing requirement. So far the results have been a lot of googling, and very little buying.
I did buy a shirt ($189) and silk tie ($119) from Rixon Groove last week for the annual Green Gala WYP ball. They are very nice, though I just about wept when the assistant gave me the price. True to my word, they were both made in New Zealand, and there is an appreciable difference in cut and quality of cloth. Time will tell how well they both last.
The week before, I broke down when trying to find a cowboy hat for a costume party, and eventually paid the $3.50 for an exceedingly lousy costume hat, knowing that I was probably only going to wear it once, possibly twice.
Generally, the experience has been incredibly frustrating. Not only because I now must walk past all the specials at Munns and Hush Puppies and feel guilty whenever I probably support child labour by purchasing cheap costume frippery, but mostly because New Zealand manufacturers and retailers seem loathe to put useful information online. Far too many websites have slogans like “More products in store!” or worse yet; “POA – Price On Application” splattered liberally over their paltry product lineup.
From the customers perspective, the point of having a website site is to avoid wasting the inordinate amount of time required to physically check every store. Clearly this point has been lost on many retailers. I personally suspect that some merchants believe that they will lose their sales edge without a human presence to badger me as I walk around their store. What really happens is that I see the above slogans and completely destroy their edge by not bothering to turn up in the first place. For any product that’s not of the electronic variety, I’m all for turning up and seeing it in person – especially clothing, where I’d like to try the item on – but I would like the opportunity to browse through the products in peace.
Therefore, if a single New Zealand manufacturer or retailer reads this and takes home one piece of advice, it should be this;
Put your catalogue online.
Put it all online. Put up prices, sizes, units left in stock, shipping costs. Put up every single piece of information you can think of, because if I can’t find out what I want to know, I’m going somewhere else. If you don’t let me buy direct from the website, I’ll go somewhere else. By the time I get to your store to try something on, I expect to know what products you offer, what sizes are available, what optional extras I can get, what colours are available, and last – but most importantly – how much it’s going to cost me.
If you are a manufacturing business only, and are genuinely not equipped to sell directly to the public, then please include links directly to retailers who do. Telling me to go scurrying around all the local stores searching for a specific item does not endear your brand to me.
This is not the eighties where I phone up for a catalogue in the mail, and it’s not the nineties where a brochureware site and a quaint “Email us for a quote” form is vaguely admissible. This is the 21st century. Please start acting like it.
Rixon Groove, this includes you.