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Offline buying experience

Yesterday, we went to buy a digital camera. We had done our homework online and narrowed down to few choices. However, once at a goodguys store we changed our opinion based on such tangible qualities as size, grip, weight and egonomics. The salesman was friendly and he showed us a few models that we liked. However, since those models were not in our initial shortlist, we asked to see the specs. To that I got this response: "We don't have specs. People normally read their specs on the Internet". Feeling stung, I quickly replied that all you need to do is go to Internet yourself and take printout of specs and keep them near the Cameras on display. The salesman seemed surprised (and annonyed too!) by the simple but useful suggestion to his not-so-polite reply. My wife asked the salesman about the dimensions of a camera that we were looking at. The salesman used his finger-span to measure the size and gave his guess. Unbelievable! If the salesman had the specs ready for the camera that we liked physically, we would have ended up buying the camera! Loss for them!

So, we decided to note down the model number and price for the camers that we liked. Fortunately, we had our camera-phone with us (Nokia 3650). So, we simply snapped up the price tag of the cameras. Just when I had started thinking that camera-phones are useless.

In contrast, when we went to WalMart to buy something else, to our surprise we found that they have a specs on all the digital cameras they sale. The specs were not as detailed as I wanted, but they were good enough to make a reasonable judgement. If a general purpose superstore chain can have specs for digital cameras, how come speciality stores like goodguys don't keep any.

Shouldn't this a no-brainer for the brick-and-mortar stores? And how come they don't get the specs from the manufacturers? If people are supposed to come prepared with all the specs, wouldn't they come to brick-and-mortar stores to the feel for the products and go back and simply order from the web? If speciality electronics retailers cannot provide advise and detailed specs on electronics products then what are they good for exactly (apart from being showrooms)?


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