Christmas shopping – Online shopping

I may not be that normal in many respects, but I do often get onto trends quite early and this year, I have shopped for Christmas differently to any other year before – and I think shopping may never be the same again.

I’ve written lots about the perfect economy, price driven shopping and how branding can help build differentiation. I’ve even written about online/offline price matching but this year it all clicked into place and a few online retailers got all my business.

Some examples.

Fifa 11. RRP £52 HMV high street price £39.99. Game High Street Price £39.99. Amazon price £24.91 delivered. Using the Red Laser App on my phone, I actually bought it on my Amazon account on my phone standing in HMV. I hope Red Laser are taking a commission.

Red-Laser-Logo

Morse the Complete Collection. RRP £199.99 (yeah right!) Morrisons £50. Amazon price £34.97 delivered. Again, bought standing in Morrisons.

And I bought from Boots, Tesco, Dixons and a few others too. All turned up in plenty of time and I saved a small fortune without having to brave the ridiculous queues at the tills in the stores. There must have been 50 people queuing in the unsurprisingly poor performing HMV. They are playing into the hands of online retailers.

Again, I don’t think i’m particularly tight, but I can see no reason at all to pay more for an identical product and the privilige of buying on the high street.

If the high street doesn’t just want to become a gigantic Amazon showroom, it needs to find a way of reflecting the price of the online retailers.

Sports Direct match online to offline, and I’ve shown before that Waterstones and HMV don’t. Which do you think is likely to still be in business by February?

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Best Buy in UK – Well no, not really

I don’t want to appear like a freaky TV pricing groupie, but I got an email this morning from Best Buy. The US phenomenon that was going to take our market by storm when they opened in Lakeside shoppping Centre.

Forgive me for being underwhelmed, but like the sad act I can be at times, I price checked them against my usual suspects Dixons and John Lewis. And guess what?

They’re really a worst buy. It’s £319.99 at ‘best Buy’ with a normal warranty.

Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV from Best Buy
Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV from Best Buy

It’s far cheaper at Dixons at only £274.72

Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV from Dixons
Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV from Dixons

And an excellent value £296 with a not quite free five year guarantee at John Lewis.

Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV from John Lewis
Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV from John Lewis

We are now working in an almost perfect market, where all the buyers have all the information and the lowest price wins all the business. For me that means you choose whether it is worth an extra £22 for a four year extended warranty (it clearly is here!) with John Lewis.

Best Buy? Brand values that deliver what they promise?

You judge for yourself.

Updated

Now, i’m not going to suddenly claim to be the people’s champion, but I did notice a rather large spike in my traffic to the site yesterday and, guess what? Best Buy have reduced the price of the Samsung LE32C450 32″ LCD HD Ready TV to  a more reasonable £278.99. A reduction of £41 or in percentages, 12.8%. Is that the power of bloggers like us who Andrew Marr likes so little, or is it a pure coincidence. Again, you be the judge.

Blogger Power - the newly reduced Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV
Blogger Power - the newly reduced Samsung LE32C450 32" LCD HD Ready TV

 

Dixons vs. John Lewis – Which brand is really never knowingly undersold?

I wrote a piece last October about Dixons and their advertising approach that directly attacks John Lewis.

Well in the last few months, I’ve had two opportunities to test them out and judge for myself. My conclusion? Well, If I tell you I bought both times from Dixons and have been surprised and delighted by their service, then that maybe says it all.

The first time was for a TV for my son’s birthday. Dixons was just miles cheaper for a like for like product. I bought from them, thinking it was something of a risk, but it was perfect. Timed delivery, well packaged, perfect paperwork. Overall excellent.

The most recent time was only last week when our own TV blew up with no chance of repair. I looked at John Lewis and then price compared them with Dixons. Whilst the model number is not identical, the spec itself seems absolutely identical. You decide!

Samsung 37" LCD TV from Dixons at £399.99
Samsung 37" LCD TV from Dixons at £399.99

or

or a Samsung 37" LCD TV from John Lewis at £499.95
or a Samsung 37" LCD TV from John Lewis at £499.95

So the price difference is a massive £100 or in this case, Dixons are a full 20% cheaper. Therefore, what you have to be paying for is the extra guarantee that John Lewis provide. Their claim that this five year guarantee is actually free, is nothing short of scandalous. It’s not, it’s £100.

John Lewis used to claim they would price match anyone, but they have varied the model number slightly so it’s not an exact match and they have added the spoiler of their so called ‘free’ guarantee. The price match in this case would not, by their rules, be a valid one and they would refuse to price match. They would back this up by saying they wouldn’t price match an Internet only retailer like Dixons anyway.

I guess you pays your money and you takes your choice. I chose the rather more honest approach of Dixons. Twice.

Updated

Karen in Customer services has responded twice to my comments which does at least show they have a bit of a system. As you can see below, both comments are almost identical so i’m not being palmed off with a total cut and paste job.

John Lewis price match details - from Karen in Customer Services
John Lewis price match details - from Karen in Customer Services

if you can’t read this, i’ll put it in full here:

Hi John

I just thought it might be helpful if I explained our position further.

We reviewed our Never Knowingly Undersold terms and conditions on 6 September 2010 to include the matching of on-line competitors something we hadn’t done up until then.  We match those competitors who trade in the same way as us in that they have a high street presence.  As Dixons trade solely on line we do not match their prices.

The two models that you highlight are different.   Dixons also sell the LE37C580 which they have priced at £438.95.  We use the model numbers our suppliers give us and I would like to reassure you that we wouldn’t deliberately alter them to duck out of having to price match.

We always try to offer exceptional value on our TVs – on this product we’re at the same price as our key high street competitors most of whom only offer a 1-year guarantee. Therefore we would consider that our 5 year guarantee comes at no extra cost to our customers.  If this additional guarantee is particularly important to a customer they would find that these key competitors would charge up to 33% more than our selling price to offer the TV with the same service conditions.

Having said that I understand it is completely your decision to choose where you make your purchase but I do hope that my explanation of our arrangements is of some help

Kind regards
Karen Eardley Customer  Service Manager John Lewis Head Office

Updated again

When I get it wrong, i’m happy to admit it. And in this case I got it wrong. The specs of the two TV’s I used as a comparison are not the same. The John Lewis one has an HD Freeview Tuner and the Dixons one has a normal NOT HD Freeview Tuner. As you’ll see from the comment below by Ricardo, the specs can’t be compared and as such, neither can the prices.

Oops, I got it wrong, thanks Ricardo. HD Freeview is not the same as NOT HD Freeview
Oops, I got it wrong, thanks Ricardo. HD Freeview is not the same as NOT HD Freeview

But luckily, steaming to my rescue is Karen from John Lewis Customer Services (who Ricardo doesn’t work for). She points out that Dixons do carry EXACTLY THE SAME LE37C580 TV at £438.95 and they won’t price match that either. It’s out of stock though so it’s either selling like hot cakes or an old model.

LE37C580 TV with HD FReeview at £438.95 from Dixons
LE37C580 TV with HD Freeview at £438.95 from Dixons

Okay, so my maths isn’t quite as dramatic. It is not 20% cheaper buying from Dixons, it’s 12.2% or exactly £61.

That to me sounds like a saving. John Lewis won’t price match Dixons, but you have to take the decision as to whether you think the £61 is worth it for the extra warranty.

Brave, very brave – Dixons gets honest

The new and rather honest ads by Dixons
The new and rather honest ads by Dixons

This is some very brave advertising by Dixons and you can see the copywriter has had great fun in constructing it. Its beautifully written, there’s no doubt about that, but is it good for the long term health of the Dixons brand?

For me, ever since Dixons profits showed that they made more money selling warranties that we didn’t need than they did from the products themselves, they showed their true colours as sales charlatans. Their brad values were short term opportunistic profits. They became the brand that people loved to hate. John Lewis, with their sensible people offering sensible prices in sensible locations became the choice of sensible people and they filed that void left behind by the Dixons customers who deserted them. They became a better than viable alternative.

But just recently, I’ve started falling out of love with John Lewis. I don’t believe their people are that nice. I don’t actually believe they are never knowingly undersold as I can always find cheaper (they don’t want or allow you to compare their prices with online prices you see!) and I began to doubt the value of their brand promise when I (over)heard people being knocked back when they were trying to return things a few days out of warranty.

So after I’ve walked through the hallowed halls of John Lewis, played with their docking stations, left funny messages on the screens of their laptops, logged them into things they shouldn’t be and and had their sensible staff come along and offer to help me, will I go to Dixons last?

No. Actually I won’t. I’ll go home and buy it online from Amazon, or another online retailer where I know where I stand, I know where and when it will be delivered and where I know that, at the moment at least, I’m a valued customer.

Good try Dixons, but I still think you’re too shady to get my custom in the near future. Keep this up though and I’ll certainly come back into store to look.

Updated

Another brilliant written and crafted ad from Dixons. I’m starting to think they actually deserve some success in what they are doing as they have captured most of our thoughts and more importantly, our actions, pretty damn well.

Another brave ad from Dixons capturing the spirit of what we're actually doing!