Thursday, November 12, 2009

The future of goods and services

Your local shops are selling you things that they can survive on, not what you really need. The discrepancy is getting bigger and bigger. I get my electric toothbrushes and replacement heads from the net, cheaper and more choices.

Many goods in Target can be replaced by online purchase. Indeed I find more things that I need that is sold by Target online only, than sold at stores only.

Local stores can survive by a few things, customization, touch and feel, and knowledge. Apparel stores are doing well but once you can try on clothes by your online clone, and view yourself in all 360 degrees at home, a lot of people will stay at home instead. Lands-end had it but it was too primitive to be useful. The colors are not even accurate.

Touch and feel can't be replaced, but hardly any goods need that. And if you provide that, you risk become free demo for other online businesses.

People don't like car salesperson, but can't do without car mechanics. You go to a garage because you don't know how to do it, so you buy parts and labor from them.

For the future of goods and services, we can looking at the most expensive personal items, the house and the car. Home Depot is actually selling you knowledge, you buy from them tools and items that are designed for doing it yourself. If you don't mind things that are not completely flat and straight, you can pave your whole yard and build walls without any experience.

The high labor cost is killing the service industry such as plumbing. In many cities it's hard to find a plumber because they cannot afford to live there. You can use cowboys but there's no guarantee. To protect consumers and to protect skill labors, there are many red tapes, and a lot goes to insurance. It's crazy to find a plumber to do a job for you. If you buy all the tools and parts you only pay for a fraction of the cost for calling out a plumber.

Even the car mechanics are not safe. Local mechanics are charging an arm and a leg. But they could be forcing people to drive to Mexico for big services. It started many years ago now. If you plug a scanner into your car, you know what went wrong and what need to be replaced. Mechanics kept saying that the codes don't tell you anything and insists to charge you $40 to $100 for the diagnostics. But do you believe that the many error codes are designed to tell you something? At least they are designed for dumb mechanics.

For simple things such as fluid flush and oil change, you can drive a bit to find cheap labor, or do it yourself. You can find all sort of manuals leaked on the net - the knowledge. For diagnostics, you can do it more reliably than dumb mechanics, and replace parts yourself. It's much cheaper to get parts online, and many old cars are still supported with OEM parts.

Even car wash is a rip-off. If you want the brand new car with deep waxy look, it's hard to say. But for most people, manufacturers should use easy wash paints, available many years ago as options. These surfaces do not need waxing for 5 years. But I think most paints hardly need any waxing and special body wash. I have been using auto car wash for years. After apply "conditioner " and rinse off, no drying is necessary. Even if you go for hand wash, the chemicals are the same. The difference is that they have cheap labors holding the brush in additional to the pressure wash. And they have people to pad dry the car.

Now I tried the dry organic wash and it works fine, almost as good as auto car wash, but better because it's a hand wash. If you wash your car every week or every other week, it is just a matter of wiping the dirt off with a cloth, and then dump the cloth into the washing machine. It also works if you car is dirty. But if your car is all dirty, it's simpler go to an auto car wash, or leave it in the rain.

Also the wheels. I spray it with biodegradable detergent and leave it for one minute. Then I wipe it off with a cloth and a bucket of water. It's dirty work but just 4 wheels. And your wheels will be cleaner than any auto or hand wash joint.

My old neighbor, a classic car enthusiastic, use only a bucket of water to wash the whole car. But I think his cars are very clean. I always want to wash my own cars, if only to avoid the hassle to go to the auto wash. But the dirt water goes directly to the beaches here, if they don't get to my plants first. Now it's "dry" wash for the body and one bucket of water for the wheels. I can even do it inside the comfort of my own garage!

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