The Business Part of Business

The Life, Death, and Business Change of Retail Sales

Remember the good old days of eBay, when you could pick up $500 software for $30 or $40?

Those days are back—if “I got an unexpected but not very exciting bargain” qualifies as the same thing to you. The question is: does this matter? Is it real business change?

Is it even worth thinking about as a new sales or marketing tool?

 

Say hello to Greentoe. Greentoe, like its competitor Buystand, hopes that you’re looking for better deals on the things you buy online. It’s enough to make you drool, isn’t it? Here come the good old days of name-your-own-price shopping!

Or, not.

I happened to do some real-world shopping this weekend. I can confirm that the $419 price you see for the television in the picture above is the actual price it’s available for at Best Buy. As I’ve told you before, I’m no fan of Best Buy, but I shop there anyway, if only as a reference point for prices. And if you want to pick up this TV, you can save yourself a whopping $20 buying it through Greentoe!

Maybe.

That maybe speaks to a few things: maybe you can get a Greentoe affiliated retailer to sell you the $419 TV for $398. Maybe that will include shipping. Maybe Greentoe or their retail partner won’t charge sales tax where you live.

Maybe you can even get the TV for less that Greentoe’s recommended price of $398. But I doubt it. Bottom line: I doubt that Greentoe is worth your effort.

I’d like to feel otherwise. Business change gets me juiced, and I’m finding the confluence of traditional retail and the Internet to be one of the most amazing business change and marketing issues going, right now. But the marketing has evolved in such a way that the only places you’re likely to finding truly amazing shopping deals any longer are in virtual close-out bins. And TVs don’t fit.

There are always blips, of course. Two years ago it looked like people had stopped buying new SmartPhones, for example. But Smartphones are now getting upgraded at an unprecedented rate, and what looked like business change to be contended with in 2010 now seems to have been just an example of a market that hadn’t matured.

Despite a system that after a year still doesn’t work in the way it’s promised to, Apple forges business change incrementally through schemes like Apple Personal Pickup. Amazon promotes change through its sheer size.

Like Rent The Runway and STORY, I’m afraid Greentoe’s only viable business plan is acquisition by a company like Amazon. And that’s a great exit strategy.

But it’s not a business, and unless it’s completely revolutionary it isn’t good for the people who sign up for services like Greentoe. You know how you can save that $20 a lot more easily? Ask the salesperson at BestBuy for a discount.

Knowing what matters and what’s worth chasing are what makes a successful business. Ask me about Influency*, and you’ll see what I mean.