I went into my local, always busy Apple store the other day specifically to get a bottle of my favorite screen and device cleaner; I Klear. I could not find it, so I asked one of the employees where it is, and she went to look for it, but, like me she could not find it either. In the place where it was normally, there was a new supply of Bausch & Lomb lens cleaner. I told her that I am partial to the iKlear, so she offered to go in the back and find out where it is. When she returned she was a bit embarrassed to tell me that Apple is not carrying it in their stores any longer. She seemed as shocked by this as I was, since it is a product designed especially for cleaning and polishing Apple products.. I passed on the Bausch & Lomb alternative and came home empty-handed. Knowing that I was going to be on Maui for a couple of days I decided to wait until I got back, and and see if I could find it in one of the other Apple Stores here in Hawaii.
But just before heading off to the airport I decided to take a quick look on Amazon.com to see if by chance they were selling the iKlear there. Well, they had a great supply, at a good price with free shipping, so I ordered some and went off to Maui.
When I arrived back at my office after a brief two day journey to Maui, I saw a package on my desk and quite honestly had no idea what it was. I had completely forgotten ordering the iKlear from Amazon.
So when I opened the package and found the iKlear inside, all I could think was, “Wow what service!” Perhaps not so coincidentally I had just had lunch on Maui with Jerry Kohl, the president of Brighton Collectibles, and much of our discussion revolved around Amazon.com and how independent retailers need to step up the way they do business in order to compete with Amazon. Jerry shared the amazing facts with me that Amazon last year had $68 Billion in sales with a loss of $300 Million. When I looked shocked, he said, “And they don’t care, because they are out to put all of the small retailers out of business, at which point they can then do whatever they want.”
While I have no doubt that some if not many retailers will eventually crumble in the face of this charging giant. But then again that’s what people said when Walmart, Costco, Best Buy and other “Big Box” retailers came along. Personally I have faith in the small independent retailers, and know that the good ones will find a way to become even better as a result of this competition. The weaker ones will go away, perhaps just a little sooner than they ultimately would otherwise, putting them out of their misery. A friend of mine refers to things like this as the “Exterminating Angel.”
As nice as it was to have the iKlear package sitting on my desk when I got home, I quite honestly would have rather bought it while I was in the Apple Store. I know that there will always be plenty of people who enjoy the shopping experience and like to feel and touch the things they are considering buying. As Amazon.com is flourishing, I continue to see crowded parking lots at the malls, stores full of customers and shoppers strolling through the mall carrying their bags.. What a great time this is!