Thursday, December 15, 2011

And Now, Some Vendor Praise

Since I posted last, I've heard from many of you. Kudos to those of you leaving blog comments. Most of the emails I received could have been comments as well...guess the senders didn't want to go on the record even though they pretty much all said what the blog commenters did.

People want to know where good vendors are online. I have found that time after time, if online shoppers find a trustworthy, dependable vendor with good CS, they will shop them even if their prices are high. I know, I did it often enough during my early online shopping years.

I no longer will pay top dollar (unless it's just something I have to have right then and it is worth it to me...like that gorgeous blouse at the mall they only have one more of? You know the situation). But my point is, this is how far consumers will go to enjoy good CS. It is that important.

So, I'm going to do a positive post and share some of my best internet vendors with you. I'm sure you can add to the list with vendors you buy from, and I encourage you to do so on your own blog, or you can share in a comment.

There are several factors when judging whether an online vendor meets your standards, just like brick and mortar stores. For me, I assess a vendor's CS (which for me involves the actual communication as well as dependability, trustworthiness and product information. I also assess their product availability, prices, shipping prices and process, and their sales and coupons. To be honest, I never return merchandise so I never research that, but it probably should be included too.

First of all, I've got to acknowledge some big box bizzes that I always shop to compare online pricing, and I also buy from. Through trial and error over the years, I have found this to be an effective way of finding the best deals. Each shopper's list of big boxers will be different and unique to them because each shopping list is different. My husband does our grocery shopping, so my online shopping is limited to toilettries and drugs, clothes, art and scrapping supplies, and appliances. By far, the big boxer that I always open up a tab window for is Amazon. It, like my other vendors, has its own icon on my Faves toolbar. I find they have the highest price ALOT, so if my small vendor beats it, I know they aren't gouging me. Other big boxers I consult include Joanns, Hobby Lobby, Dick Blick, Office Depot and Lowes.

Now to the small vendors. Someone asked me which of my vendors was the nicest. I'd have to say, I have had some very nice vendors. It's a hard thing to choose just one, but my very first reaction is to say Korin at Sweet n Sassy Stamps. This woman will make anything right and will brighten your day while doing it. Plus her stamps are a great product and reasonably priced. A few others who come to my mind automatically include Inka Heaton of Altered Artifacts Etsy who gives awesome freebies, and the lady who owns Scrapbook Pal, not strong on talk, just flawless on getting you your order in 2 shakes of a lamb's tale and really great prices. Sherry at Happy n Scrappin' and the husband and wife team at BlueMoon Scrapbooking are also great to deal with, as is Paulette at Create with TLC Digital Stamps.

There are more, but a lot of them are no longer in business. I have found that vendors often burn out or get tired of it or want to move on in life, so the turnover rate is material. Having had my own business, I can attest that owning your own biz is a passion you give your life to, and sometimes it becomes impossible to juggle it all. It's a lot like riding the carrousel at the fair over and over, then needing to stop and get off, but you stay there as long as you can. It also may not even be a financial decision.

In the last 12 months alone, the dynamics of online shopping have changed drastically, so a store that fulfills your every need today may become annoyingly inadequate in no time flat. So examples I give today can be fiction in no time. But, today I can say that for art supplies, Blick is the hands-down cheapest, even factoring in the shipping. And I can also say that Scrapbook Pal beats Blick on more than a few items. Take Copic sketch markers. Blick's price is $5.25 or so. Scrapbook Pal's is $4.49 (you must be logged in to see it). Now, if you are buying several Copics, that's a chunk of change, not to mention that SP offers free shipping over $25. Blick's shipping deal isn't anywhere near there. If I were teaching a business school course on internet vendors, Scrapbook Pal would be one of my test case good guys. They do almost everything right.

More about this subject if I think of any other super vendors. I'm feelling a strong urge to go shopping now!
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