Tonight I had a very lengthy discussion with an old college friend as we talked SEO and everything related to the Internet. He works for a retailer and some of the facts he told me were truly mind boggling. There are three main categories that are very focused on location when it comes to retail – cars, appliances and furniture. Most other items can be purchased almost anywhere as the shipping costs are quite low. When making a laptop purchase or a TV purchase customers can have it shipped to their front door for less than $30. This is not the case with furniture, appliances or cars.
In fact, shipping any of these items to a certain location can be quite expensive. Years ago, I was thinking about buying a used car from CarMax but I quickly found out that there was a huge delivery fee if I wanted a vehicle that was at another car lot. It would be smart to drive to the other car lot and pick the car up myself. The same holds true with furniture and appliances. When I posted my washer and dryer on Craigslist many people were willing to drive over one hundred miles due to the fact that the price was so attractive. I was not looking to make a profit on the washer and dryer as I simply wanted it out of my hair.
Well, my buddy and I discussed how people will search for a specific brand and a location. An example would be:
“Can I Buy a Maytag Refrigerator for Under $500 in Kansas City”
Something interesting that was pointed out is that online retailers do not charge tax when they are shipping an item outside of the state that they are incorporated. This could mean huge savings for a customer. If the sales tax in a states is 8.25% and a customers is buying a $2000 couch then they can save $170 by making the purchase from an online retailer. It is important to remember that the shipping costs could outweigh these savings. That being said, the company that he works for offers free shipping to anywhere in the country. It might also be a good idea to have the items shipped to a certain area and go pick up the furniture.
Most people in the United States live close enough to another state that it is sometimes worth it to make a trip across the border to save some money. When I lived in Montana I found out that there was no sales tax. The same holds true in Oregon. For people who live in neighboring states it would be wise to make the trip across the border for any large purchase. When buying a car, appliance or furniture it may be well worth the trip. Remember that you will have to get these items back to your house somehow so there could be some costs there as well; renting a UHaul is not free!
Another interesting matter when it comes to these purchases is Craigslist. Finding high priced items on Craigslist at clearance prices is something that has helped many thrifty shoppers save. It is amazing how many people are searching for cars, furniture and appliances on Craigslist. It will likely be true that more and more shoppers start to look for electronics on Craigslist as well. Look for trends in “craigslist iPad,” “craigslist MacBook,” and “craigslist Samsung HD TV” to explode over the next several years. It is no longer the case that customers are looking at local newspapers as the online classifieds are much easier. Not only is it easier for shoppers but sellers can post online for free.
This gets back to the targeted local search. It was common sense for Craigslist to create a sub website for each area of the country. I will not be surprised to see this broken down even more as we move forward. It is already true that there are some very small parts of the country that have a Craigslist page. In the past it was simply the large cities like Miami, Orlando, Charlotte, Los Angeles, NYC, Philadelphia and Chicago. Now we are seeing places like Lake City, Florida and Yuma, Arizona with Craigslist websites. It won’t be long before we will have Johnston County NC Craigslist.
Some of the smaller companies throughout the United States can compete very well when they are reaching their target audience. My friend mentioned that some of this focused traffic is willing to buy from his company because of the tax issue and the fact that they are willing to ship for free. This is something that other small companies should think about when they are looking to expand in 2012 and beyond.