When ever a new kit is released we get excited and our hunter gatherer instincts kicks in the quest to acquire it. Now some of us are less patient than others, they quickly pony up the cash long before it has reached Main Street. Others are a bit more patient and wait until it is on the Main Street or domestic Cyber Avenue retailers shelf. Some yet wait for the dust to settle and by doing so often find that their patience pays dividends in saving money on the purchase price.
Every business wants to be the first to take the dollars you are willing and eager to spend, there is nothing wrong with that. It is however wrong to knowingly mislead a consumer by claiming things related to the product which are untrue. Consumers have the ability to educate themselves about products, availability, pricing and those businesses which sell them. Some use the tools and information at their disposal and others don’t, that is a choice each of us make on our own.
In a battle, the victor is often the one who takes the offensive first. This too applies in business…especially if the one on the offense is using misrepresentation of the truth. If the consumer isn’t aware of the vendors tactics they in the end could find themselves having been taken advantage of. Some don’t care, money comes…money goes. But if you are like me, nothing is more upsetting than when a business has blatantly lied to me.
This is NOT the same as making a purchase on a Monday, to learn on Tuesday that the very item went on sale. That’s by chance. Sales have a start and end time, its not a malicious intent by the vendor. What is malicious is when the vendor claims there are exceptions when in reality there are none. Such as exclusivity, limited availability and lowest price to name a few.
Not many distributors have a monopoly on the products they sell, but there are those that imply such a claim. Reality is though there are other venues from where retailers and consumers alike can source products, whether it be through a separate and authorized distributor which in turn serves retailers, or if a retailer wants they can go outside of the normal supply chains and purchase product elsewhere in the world if they are willing to accept the costs associated.
Even distributors have a couple of standard choices when acquiring products from manufacturers, especially those produced abroad. Have them shipped by surface which is typically cheaper but requires longer transit times. Or they can elect to pay the up charges associated with Air Forwarding which is faster but more expensive. Some will mix modes, opting to ship a portion of their order via Air to be the “first” on the block to have it, with the bulk of the order arriving later by surface modes. Regardless, you the consumer are paying for this in the purchase price as few businesses eat such additional costs.
Retailers too pass on any and all costs they incur, such as those set forth as conditions in the distributors Terms and Agreement Policies. Most distributors take the lead of the manufacturers they represent, sell as much product as you can, as long as you get pay the set asking price. What you the retailer charge for those products is left up to you to decide. Whether that be MSRP, MSRP plus or below your cost…as long as we’ the distributor and/or manufacturer are making money and turning our inventory…life is good.
Now there are manufacturers which do require its distributors and retailers to follow a pricing structure policy which serves to protect everyone that sells their products. I know first hand that in the outdoor power equipment industry there are policies that dealers have to abide to such as MAP or Minimum Advertised Pricing. That is no authorized dealer can publish a sale price below said MAP price point. You could however state something like…“Prices too low to advertise!” Even online when shopping on such venues as Amazon, there are often times you have to place an item into your shopping cart to see the sale price. You are not restricted as to how low you can go. Dealers who continually do sell far below such price points often don’t survive in the long term…but is their decision and consumers who are looking at price alone are eager to spend less to purchase those goods.
I don’t know of any such pricing polices here in the hobby industry being set forth by manufacturers ( there could be but I don’t know of any first hand), there are however those at the distributor level who self impose such policies on the retailers they service. They operate as if they were a monopoly, the only source, its our way or the highway. Violate our Terms and Agreement Policy and you’ll get a warning, violate it twice and your terms of purchase are penalized…do it a third and you’ll no longer do business with us! DO as we say! We are trying to protect you the retailer from yourself! What happens is the distributor looses a customer…yeah that’s always good for the bottom line. And the retailer either discontinues carrying the products leaving their customers to fend for themselves ( another failing practice) or they learn a valuable truth and go elsewhere to acquire the product line(s).
Now if I told you, you had to buy peas from me and sell those peas at the price I set, regardless if you could get your peas elsewhere without such stipulations would you want to buy peas from me? Probably not, but you would be inclined to do so if I told you that I was the ONLY supplier of peas and that peas are available ONLY for a limited time and in limited amounts not knowing that there ARE other suppliers who have the same peas, in sufficient amounts, with no restrictions on availability or stipulations on the price you sell them for.
When such stipulations are placed on the naive retailer, they cannot set their own pricing to meet with what their local market will accept. It also doesn’t provide a provision to let them thin inventory by blasting the item out the door at sale prices that otherwise reluctant or uninterested consumers will pounce on to move dead inventory. As a retailer you should have the control, not your supplier. Is the distributor helping or handicapping your business? As a consumer you expect your favorite retailers to be selling products at fair market value whether that be full MSRP or at a discounted price that they can comfortably sell at which appeases you and that sustains their operation…which again is choice both have to make.
My suggestion is, do what your gut tells you to do, but do us all a favor if you are/were one of those who jumped to pull the trigger first. After the products you acquired have had time and trickled their way through the layers of the retail (new) market take a look to see if there were any noticeable differences in price, availability and access and share your findings. Chances are access of the items increased and prices dropped.