Originally Posted by pesto
An OK article, but let me tell you about Amazon and local retail: the battery for my home alarm died. The "local retailer" wanted $52; Amazon (and other sites) wanted $12-18.
Forget this article; it's not sales taxes, it's not delivery costs, it's not gas or anything else. The internet and Amazon (and a thousand others) is a BETTER SYSTEM for distributing goods and that saves money for every consumer. It's simply called "effective competition".
The local retailer relies on creating ineffective competiition: he gets a prominent, expensive location, he emphasizes brands and not buying "inferior" generics, and on the fact that you are ignorant on the subject, haven't got time to investigate, and are missing your time off to shop around in bad traffic and long lines. He is exploiting the "transaction costs" at the edges of the system to turn your lack of time into his profit. The internet reestablishes competition in an easy, accessible form; the results are obvious.
Yeah, I pretty much agree, but local retailers surely still have a place. In order to survive, some might have to figure out what they add to the customer's experience that online retailers can't. A lot of people don't want or know or have time to investigate products themselves; local retailers, at their best, can provide this kind of expertise.
Recently, I had to buy a new pair of running shoes (my old ones had been causing some physical pain), but, because I know next to nothing about foot anatomy and movement, I decided to go to a brick-and-mortar store. I found a place with a huge selection, very competent sales staff, and technology to which I wouldn't normally have access (e.g., foot-mapping machinery and software). I ended up with an awesome pair of shoes that solved the shin and back problems I was having, and I'm confident they were a good investment. For me, that guidance (and subsequent satisfaction) was worth the ten dollar mark-up.
The thing is, the internet is the reason that I chose this store: It had a bunch of rave reviews on Yelp. The web works both ways.