Thursday, February 28, 2019

Online cheating and competing

OUR NO. 1 COMPETITION at Second String Music is the internet. It can be hard to match online deals, so we try our best to offer unmatched service, advice and an unhurried store experience. It's been eight years and we are holding our own.

Yesterday we had a frustrating experience with an online retailer. A customer came in and wanted to get a Boss Acoustic Singer amp. They are brand new. We ordered it from Roland, then were told it was out of stock until April.

The customer told us about an online dealer, Sweetwater, which offered the product for $350 (not in stock till April too, though they don't tell you that). When we agree to carry a certain brand, we sign what is called a MAP agreement, where the prices are pretty much set by the dealer. MAP on this particular item is $499. Sure, we can do sales and we offer the best price possible, but this keeps bigger companies from underselling the small retailer like us.

We aren't sure how Sweetwater can offer the product for that price, even though it isn't available for another month. Do they buy so many of them that they get a discount? We don't know.

What we do know is that when this happens, we let our dealers know. Let's just our rep at Roland isn't happy. We'll see if Sweetwater gets into trouble or maybe has delayed delivery, who knows.

In the meantime, we'll do our best to match online prices and keep the small retail experience alive and growing. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it often is.

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