Seth Godin had another brilliant blog titled Managing Reputation in the Age of Infinity. Godin writes,
Amazon sells junk.
More junk every day. And they know this.
They sell junk that would never, ever be sold at a Wal-Mart store (or a BKBG Shareholder showroom). That's because in order to get into a store, a buyer, a human being with a reputation, has to allocate shelf space. The easiest way to lose your job as a buyer is to put brand-destroying lousy products on a valuable shelf.
Amazon, on the other hand, has infinite shelves. And no buyers. As a result, they're relying on an algorithm that rewards low prices and high ratings. But the best way to lower prices is to make junk. And the best way to high ratings is to fake them.
Godin continues by explaining that it costs Amazon nothing to promote another unknown third-party reseller, to manipulate ratings and to sell bad products, and if they get caught, so what? If the products don't work, they can be returned at no cost, but what does the consumer do if the shower valve they put behind their marble wall doesn't work? Who pays for the repair?
On the upside, having infinite shelf space enables unknown brands to be found. The bad news is that in abdicating reviews by professionals who know what they are talking about to consumers, you transform the filtering process, while wasting time, money and goodwill, writes Godin. "The uncertainty that comes from not knowing if it's what you hoped for adds cost and tension for everyone."
Amazon is not the only culprit, Godin points out. Facebook ads (unvetted, like the ads you see on network TV) are also not to be trusted. It's not dissimilar to the claims by peddlers pitching tonics in the late 19th century that swore they transformed lives for the better. It's the latest unregulated "quack" remedy that's sure to cure your chronic disease, explains Godin.
Here's the main point. The Amazons and Facebooks of the world are promoting products that will show up everywhere that an individual or organization believes scale is more important than trust. That's where the brick-and-mortar showroom has an advantage. There's no reason to trust any unknown product your customers can buy on Amazon, Build.com, or any other online retailer. And because there are so few brands that are recognized by consumers in the kitchen and bath universe, showrooms have an advantage because they offer professionals who know what they are talking about and are trustworthy. What do you do to promote trust?