Budget boats and free shipping, you see it all over the place online, but what does it really mean?
Like many of us I spend quite a bit of time online, be it work, recreation, or education, I’m on the web more today than ever before. I’ll never forget when I first went online back in the early 90’s with my special forces house mates. I didn’t see the point of it then but I glimpsed what was being done with mapping and the relevance to what would later be unfolding in the Middle East.
Fast forward a decade and my online experience involved physics and material science and not much else. Step forward another 5 years and the writing on the wall was clear, online sales were a thing, and as I predicted a person doesn’t even need to leave their house anymore to get everything they desire today.
Now that I’m back to doing stuff in boats again interactions between myself and inflatable boat users are on the rise, and so are the words “free shipping”. It’s been pointed out to me by users in the shop that “free shipping” was a major deciding factor in which boat they purchased. If you caught the part in my previous sentence that made mention of the shop you’ll soon see where this is going. Obviously when a person tells me they did their “research” what I’m hearing is they price shopped and scanned reviews that were stuffed by fly by night manufacturers in hopes to sway the uninformed to buy their product.
“Free shipping” a term used in the beginning by craft makers to entice people to buy stuff they didn’t need has been hi-jacked by big business. Online giants even offer it to subscribers for a yearly fee, take 15% from the person selling the item, then charge you a fee for using a credit card. You feel like you stole the item, it looks the same, was cheaper than the local place and you didn’t have to put on pants to do it either! Wow! “Retailers are chumps!”, you think to yourself absorbed in the pleasure chemicals the brain is releasing, but who is the real rube in this scenario?
If you break it down with math it will release a different chemical that causes depression, so why think about it? Well, i’m selfish, and since I don’t like telling someone their boat is garbage I figured I’d stab at the keyboard with my giant hands to make it easier.
With so much of what’s in our landfills originating from China it’s no wonder people don’t think twice to purchase a no name boat with free shipping.They’ve been conditioned at this point to accept it. Obviously not everything made in China is junk, but a fair amount of the swag is well, swag. Even big manufacturers have moved production of goods to China to capitalize on the near slave labor cost of production. The rest of us in the World are just greedy for a good deal, no one thinks they should pay retail, everyone thinks they should pay wholesale and don’t care about mom and pop, only themselves. These are the “free shipping” candidates psychologically enticed to buy products they can’t pass up because it was a “good deal”. Those dot com sellers hired experts on behavior and targeted a big part of the population by utilizing dopamine levels present in their brain chemistry, and they discovered “free shipping” was the perfect trigger.
Back in the shop I’m faced with telling someone their online purchase that came to their front door with “free shipping” is worthless and more expensive to fix than what they paid for it. Incredulous looks and dagger stares are often the immediate reaction, they feel like I cheated them, I betrayed them, but I didn’t. I didn’t sell them that garbage boat, that good deal, that “free shipping” bonanza. I get to see yet another chemical reaction, this time it’s anger and frustration.
I’ve been here at IBC for a few years now, and I’ve seen many makes and models of inflatable boats come and go. I pay attention to the details, the failure modalities, the use of materials and construction techniques. Yeah I’m that guy, the geek, the whosit whatsit person. What I’ve realized is there’s no good deals on quality unless someone takes less money somewhere along the chain. Big Box demands money! Big Box takes your money! (I was thinking of the green big man from comics when I typed that)
One of the things I like about working at IBC is we aren’t a big heartless company focused on share holder dividends above all else. We’re a small mom and pop place that has a veteran or two under the roof, a big dog, a good mechanic and a genuine love of inflatable boats. Seeing people get frustrated with their experience means it affects our happiness too so we try to land deals on quality boats to combat the plague of online madness. Every year that I’ve been here at IBC we’ve bought every item of a model line to offer a decent boat at a decent price. It’s economies of scale in that end and we’ve been around the block once or twice. We see our customers on the water while we’re playing ourselves and we enjoy the happy feelings while aboard a good inflatable boat.
This year our good guy buy has centered around the Marlon models. Built for Marlon Trailers by Highfield these models offer the good stuff at a better price, because we bought them all. No, we can’t offer free shipping, that would mean we’d have to charge you more because we don’t have shipping money built into our price. That means that money is put into building the boat, not shipping landfill to your doorstep. We aren’t going to get rich on these boats but while we have them they will make families happy and provide safe boating pleasure for a good long time. If you have a good experience you’ll be back when your family is in a better place financially and get a bigger or better boat, and if we’re lucky we’ll be along to enjoy the ride with you.
We care about the planet, plastic in the oceans, CO2 emissions, and would rather not sell products with a short duty cycle that are landfill bound. Get a better boat, in the long run you’ll be richer for it.
If you have questions my name is Mike, give me a call and I’ll do my best to help you make a good decision on your first or next inflatable boat.
My number at the shop is (503)235-2628 so you know who is behind what we’re selling and who to talk to if you should ever encounter a frowny face experience.