Let me just start off by saying that I work in the retail sector, and I am a great supporter of retail – as my empty wallet and bank account clearly shows. I am also a believer in the supporting of the brands and companies, that brings us the various goods that we consume on a daily basis. However, lately I am finding myself getting increasingly more disillusioned by the businesses out there. Their practices; their attitudes; the direction they are headed – it all adds to my distrust, disgust, and, my outrage.
Originally I was planning to rant about APB’s closure just after a short three months, about being outraged at the lack of security in our games today. Or perhaps about Bobby Kotick, about being outraged at his continual arrogance; at his outrageous price hikes and his schemes to overcharge the consumers at every turn – or worse, about being outraged about how we, the consumers are letting him. But, earlier on tonight I came across a little post that drove my outrage into overdrive.
The post in question was a blog entry from Mighty Ape, a New Zealand owned online retailer that I have personally shopped from for nearly 10 years. In this particular entry, the company expressed their frustration at their inability to serve their customers, due to being let down by their suppliers, and also by the suppliers’ lack of care for the little guys.
They mentioned a couple of recent examples. Firstly they were screwed over by Sony. For several months Mighty Ape has been collecting pre-orders for the Sony device known as the PlayStation Move, which was launched yesterday in NZ. They wrote:
“We kept Sony informed of our pre-order numbers, placed our order, and when the device was due to ship, were given only a fraction of our original allocation leaving many of our pre-order customers high and dry. Meanwhile, our CEO Simon Barton is out shopping with his family in the weekend buying Playstation Moves off the shelf from JB, EB etc at full retail price trying to fulfill our own pre-orders. We think that’s poor.”
While perhaps it’s not that unusual, for retailers to not be given their full allocation of stock at launch, especially for major console hardware releases. The fact that Mighty Apes CEO’s personally driving around, buying stock at full price off other retailer’s shelves, to try and fulfill their own pre-orders really spoke volumes in my book.
The second example they gave was regarding the Collector’s Edition of Star Wars: Force Unleashed II, yet another product that they have been collecting pre-orders for. They wrote:
“This time around, the supplier concerned has bowed down to pressure from a foreign-owned retail chain with 40 stores who are, presumably, using their market power to demand exclusive rights to the Collector’s Edition in New Zealand. Of course, now that they’ve granted an exclusive they’ll keep the price at full RRP and consumers will have nowhere else to turn. We think this sucks.
As a small locally-owned operation we find it difficult to compete with larger foreign-owned companies who use their size to control the market. Suppliers who pander to their demands ultimately starve competition and limit the choices available to the consumer.”
They went on to write: “we have to fight day in day out to compete and carve a place for ourselves in the local market…At Mighty Ape we’re working our tails off to create a great NZ-owned company with a focus on excellent customer service, fast and reliable delivery with some fun and personality thrown in for good measure. It’s frustrating that some suppliers attempt to thwart our efforts in their attempt to shift the greatest number of units for the least amount of effort possible.”
Like I mentioned earlier I have been personally shopping and dealing with these guys for years. It angers and saddens me to see smaller and local businesses struggle so much, just to keep up with the bigger players on the market, especially when these smaller businesses often offer so much more warmth and personality than alot of these bigger players combined. So, this rant is my call out to all consumers out there. Next time you are looking to buy something, why not visit a local shop or website, perhaps one of those independent shops that you have never been to before? Help the smaller players like Mighty Ape survive, and who knows, someday we just might be able to knock the cold faceless gaints down to size.