WHY ARE YOU PAYING RETAIL?
Todd Alexander has been working in retail for the past 20 years. So when he asks the question, why pay retail? the answer is well worth listening to.
Whether you’re buying a new kitchen, a designer frock or a weekend away, Todd knows the secret to getting the most bang for your buck. His little handbook is packed full of tips to make even the most lukewarm shopper keen to track down a bargain.
With Christmas only months away, The Hoopla’s Meredith Jaffé asked Todd a few questions about how to make those precious pennies go even further.
MJ According to large retailers, Australian consumers are already onto e-tail. Why write this book?
TA I felt that consumers weren’t using online to the best of their ability. The lines between on and off-line shopping have increasingly blurred because of technology. So I wanted to give them information on how to be a better shopper in store and online.
What are Australian retailers doing wrong from the consumers’ point of view?
The main driver for consumer choice is price competitiveness. Retail is an old business with old business models based on high margins. Technology means people can price compare in a matter of seconds. Retailers are focussing in on small areas like GST but 10 percent in price is not going to make enough difference. It’s about not having to get in the car, drive to the mall, find a park and then try and find what you want to buy in the shop. People can shop at night, when the kids are in bed, compare prices and make informed buying decisions.
Australia is renowned as a nation of early adopters. Why do you think Australian retailers have been so slow to adopt e-commerce?
Some of them tried it 10-15 years ago and proclaimed it a horrible failure. In my view, they didn’t stick at it long enough and they tended to tack online at the end of the sales process. The whole business model behind retail is about floor space, high wages and city-centric. Therefore they took a very lack-lustre approach to online. Consumers won’t stand for it and off-shore retailers are happy to take our business. They know consumers are looking for the best deal, not just in terms of price but the fashion, the range and the service is so much better when we shop with international retailers.
What is the best bargain you ever got?
As I talk about in the book, I recently renovated my home and with renovating comes some large purchases. I really wanted a stone bath that retails for between $6000 to $10,000 which was way over my budget. So I hunted around and found a wholesaler, who didn’t sell direct to the public but was happy for me to come in and have a look at the showroom. He had clearance stock and I was able to buy my bath for half price.
But the flip side to that story is that as part of renovating I had so much stuff to get rid off. I had a whole kitchen that was really run down, screen doors, tiles. I was looking at six skiploads which was going to cost me $1200. I put the whole lot up for auction on e-bay starting at 99 cents, pick-up only. Within the week I sold 50 items, made $4000 and saved the $1200 in skip fees – not to mention the inconvenience.
So the best bargain can be getting rid of unwanted stuff more efficiently and using that money to buy what you do need or donate to charity.
What are your top three tips for avoiding retail prices?
1. Become a good haggler. Never ever pay full price and make yourself comfortable with the art of negotiation. Some people argue that online shopping removes the need to negotiate but there will always be some instances where you will have to shop in-store. Every time I ask for a discount I get one. If we all asked for a discount, it will influence change.
2. Research online as effectively as you can. A lot of people think they know how to use the internet but there are a lot of bargain hunting tools people are completely unaware of.
3. Invest in smartphone technology because that is power in your hand. There are apps where you can price check whilst you are standing in the store and you can make up your mind if you buy here or shop elsewhere. Show the shop assistant the item on screen and ask if they can match the price.
The thing to remember is that retailers have $$ sales targets. The trick is to shop towards the end of the day/week/month when there is more likelihood they have not met their target.
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