Viral Thread explores price differences between online shopping and brick and mortar

It’s no secret that the world of online shopping has dramatically changed the way the world works.

While many still try to shop locally or in physical stores that can provide real-time service and answer questions if needed, the costs of in-store items often lead to individuals purchasing the same items at a fraction of the price. through companies like Amazon.

A Reddit thread titled, “When you’d rather buy things in person, but it’s not doable remotely,” recently went viral. This sparked a discussion about how in-person and online shopping has changed over the years, specifically mentioning items that are often needed in most people’s lives.

Whoever created the wire used the example of a CAT5e cable box, or basically the most popular cables in LAN connections that typically handle speeds up to 1 gigabyte.

A photo showed a $73.99 box of 100ft CAT5e cables sold by the Staples company. A side-by-side photo of the same product at the same length from an Amazon-based outlet costs just $9.33.

A recent Reddit thread discussed price differences between physical stores and online competitors. A pedestrian walks past a Staples office supply store on June 28, 2017 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty

Besides the convenience of never having to leave your home for an online purchase, such cost differentials have many visitors to the feed wondering how physical stores don’t understand how they’re losing viable customers.

“I worked at Office Depot for years [which is basically the same as Staples] and the problem we had was that the company never updated tech prices with advances in technology,” one user commented. “When I started, USB sticks cost about $1 per gig. [8gb flash drive for $8, 32gb for $32, etc]. By the time I left those prices had dropped massively, so now a 32GB drive is under $10, but last time I checked Office Depot hadn’t updated that price range yet. ten years ago.”

Another user said the business model of stores like Staples and others like it involves key target demographics, including: knowing who their customers are and what they use to purchase products; customers who capitalize on “last minute purchased needs”; and maintain higher margins “to account for declining consumer activity.”

“These guys aren’t disconnected, dropping that 9.99 ethernet cord isn’t going to get tons of new buyers,” the user said. “They know exactly what they are doing to continue to afford to have a physical storefront.”

A long-used example in the tech world of an item that typically costs significantly more in stores than online is the HDMI cable. Every new TV or game console has needed one for years, but the long-running joke in online circles was how “gold-plated” HDMI cables were sold in some stores for many times what they would cost online. .

“I remember when HDMI cables started to become ubiquitous, especially when gaming consoles made the switch,” one user said. “I went to Best Buy to get one for my new PS3 and it was like $40. I went and found a two-pack online from China for $10.”

Many responses noted that stores may charge prices like these because people in certain industries don’t mind spending so much money and often do so with company credit cards.

“As a former Staples employee for over 5 years, I assure you that these cables have never been offered for sale,” one person said. “They’re for business. An IT person with a corporate card doesn’t care how much, he just needs it now.”

Others said items can be more expensive when customers are impatient and don’t want to wait for items to ship; the clientele may be older and less knowledgeable about technology in general, or both.

And then there are people who are just out of money and have not been helped by high inflation for decades.

“I don’t like Amazon as much as anyone,” one person said. “But I just can’t afford to buy from small retailers 80 [percent] time because I will probably spend at least double that. If I had enough money, it wasn’t a problem, but I’m broke.”

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