I wanted to buy a computer for my daughter. So we went to four different stores and looked at all the models on display to determine which was the best deal. Then we went shopping on the Internet to see if we could find the PC we wanted at a better price. Sure enough, we found one for 50 bucks less than the local store price; the Web site showed the PC was in stock, and I bought it right then and there from the comfort of my own home.
As it turned out, however, the PC was sold out by the time my order registered in the store's inventory system. No problem, said the helpful customer service person I called, more were coming on Friday. Then the manufacturer missed its delivery, and on second follow up I was told the store didn't know when more would arrive. So last night Allie and I went back to our local store and bought the computer. At that point, fifty dollars more seemed a small price to pay for complete control over the purchase and the delivery.
But enough about me, what about you? That is, could you see your company ever buying equipment, tooling, materials or supplies over the Internet? If so, why would your company do that? Would you do it for a better price? For a more convenient buy? For a wider range of products and suppliers from which to choose? And just as important, what would prevent you from buying online?
And while you're at it, could you also tell us what you think about fulfillment? That is, it seems to me that selling metalworking tools and equipment online is not a terribly hard thing to do. But fulfilling your expectations on quality, delivery, technical support and other customer service issues is a lot more challenging. It's like buying my daughter's computer. The purchasing part of online shopping sure can be convenient, but it's no bargain if they can't deliver the goods.