Amazon really put the screws to local business over the holidays last year with their Price Check app. Wouldn’t it be nice to return the favor? It turns out there is a practical and fun way to do so. The seven major U.S. holidays present an opportunity to simultaneously solve a problem shared by millions of Americans–call it “the plight of the last-minute gift shopper”–while inspiring those same millions to passionately support the local businesses in their town. Observe:
We all know the problem. It’s the day before your anniversary…or Valentine’s Day…or someone special’s birthday. You have no clue what they want and no idea how or where to find it. You are in full panic mode. You have failed to rise to the occasion for the last three years, and yet you find yourself on the verge of failure again. Not even Amazon can help you now, but even if they could it would cost you an extra $35 to get some piece of junk shipped overnight. Sound familiar?
In 2010 Americans spent $532 billion, or an average of $1,300 each, celebrating and exchanging gifts during the seven major US holidays. Human nature being what it is, it’s likely that a third to a half of those gifts were purchased online in a last-minute scenario similar to the above and, dare we say it, either subsequently returned or “re-gifted” by the disappointed recipients.
Accepting that some significant percentage of gift shopping will always occur on a last-minute basis, we believe it represents the perfect opportunity for local business to disrupt Amazon and level the internet shopping playing field. Here’s how: why not put a “fly on the wall” in every local store so that, over the course of the normal shopping year, the things that our loved ones admire are discreetly noted and recorded to their online “everyday registries?” Think of the results. Millions of happier gift shoppers, gift recipients, merchants and town officials!? Gigantic amounts of time and money saved by millions of locally-focused shopping trips!? An epic shift in the support of local shopping in the run-up to every major holiday!? (Remember, we’re talking about $532 billion on just the seven major holidays!)
Now before you get angry and accuse us of draining all the romance out of the ancient rite of gift giving, we point you to a recent Harvard psychology study that found that gift recipients were actually happier when they received what they had asked for. Really (hey, we wouldn’t just make this stuff up). To quote:
“Findings revealed that recipients appreciated receiving items from their wish list more than unsolicited items, and perceived the requested items to be more thoughtful and considerate. But in direct contrast, the givers thought that recipients would be more impressed with unsolicited items. This apparent disconnect between gift-givers and gift-recipients may strike a chord with many of us. Flynn notes that many married couples have an anecdote about a wedding gift that was off the registry –– and totally off the mark. “
These days, every Big Online Shopping site offers their customers wishlists where they may store ideas for future purchases. Why not do the same for local “offline” shops? Call it an “everyday” local registry, if you will, and make it so that it can be discreetly shared and accessed online. That way, you would always know what your loved ones want, and where to get it locally!?
Seeing as this is the Main and Me blog, you’ll forgive us if we point out that, among other good things, Main and Me makes it possible for shoppers to create online photo galleries of their favorite local goods and services, then share, like, comment upon and re-list items in the form of curated “everyday” (or wedding, or Christmas, or housewarming, or baby shower, etc.) registries. What could be better for last-minute gift givers? What could be better for local?
Everyday registries are not the only way that Main and Me re-connects online shoppers to local “offline” shops (read more here) but if you can imagine everyday registries helping your Support Local efforts, come and get started here at Main and Me.
Main and Me. Were putting local independent business back in the game.