There is a BIG difference between online marketplaces and an online shops. It's a difference that saves you time, makes life easier, and one that keeps you safe.
Every day millions of people shop with a well-known online marketplace that rhymes with 'Cramizon'. We've talked about this particular site before and the (literal) hazards of shopping there for toys. However, today we don't want to jump into something so negative. Instead, we thought we'd look at some of the best things about shopping with an independent retailer.
What is a shop actually for?
Retailers rarely make the products you buy on site, in fact they typically have little to no role in regards to manufacture. What we do is research our own shopping niche (in our case toys) and source things for our customers. Basically we do all the research, quality control, and collection curation to save our customers time (and where possible money).
If you've spent any time hunting for things on a site like 'Cramizon', you'll have a rough idea of how hard it can be to find the best out of all the options out there. Sites like 'Cramizon' and 'Epray' are not actually shops/ retailers. They're market places. They defer the job of looking for something good (and safe) on to you.
For some people it can be hard to see how any toy can be 'good' or 'bad' (a lot of people see them as simply distracting things to play with). With this in mind, imagine shopping for something more 'important' like a pair of school shoes for a child.
You want them to be water proof, you want them to last, you probably want them to be breathable (so as to stay clean and comfortable over time), and you want them to stay smart. How long do you think it would take to find the right shoes in a marketplace filled with literally thousands of them? Ten minutes? Half an hour? More?
You're unknowingly working for free when you use an online marketplace
Let's assume that it takes about half an hour of checking customer reviews, reading item details. Seeing if the sizing looks right. Looking for images of the soles to see if they have enough grip for winter. That's thirty minutes of your time that you're not getting back.
Currently the living wage for an adult in the UK is £9.50 per hour and you just gave that online marketplace half an hour of your time. Maybe you get paid more than this but at the very least you just gave them £4.75 of your time for free.
Traditional retailers (even the big ones) do a lot of this work behind the scenes for you. Whether you're buying inside their actual shop or using their website to buy from them, what you see is a curated collection of goods that has been put together to help their customers.
On top of this (vitally) the retailer will have spent time ensuring that their products are of good enough quality to ensure that their customer comes back to shop with them again.
Get something good
We independent retailers choose the products we sell. We talk to customers face to face. They tell us what they like and they make recommendations. It's a very organic process. What we stock has come to represent the very best that our industry can offer, while maintaining options and prices that our regular customers are happy with. We do everything we can to get really good, relevant products for our customers.
What's more, we can also change the range if we want. If something doesn't work. If the quality decreases, or a product rises too much in price, we can drop a range.
We're small and we're fast. It doesn't take much time for us to drop a product which isn't in keeping with what our customers need from us. The reverse is also true; if a toy really impresses us there isn't a long drawn-out approval process, we'll do what we can to start stocking it as soon as possible.
Get right to the point
It can be hard to find the right gift, boredom breaker, or learning resource. Toys are important, they matter in lots of important ways; from early development, to helping learn cooperative behaviours, to educational benefits and encouraging creativity. Badly designed or faulty toys do not do this.
At our last count, our shop stocked 9,449 different products (that's not simply the number of items, that's completely different products). It has taken years of research and experience to collect all of these and have them available for customers. (You can imagine how glad we are that we have a computerised system when the stock-take time comes).
With all of those options on the shop floor, we find that occasionally this can make finding the right thing hard for a customer. Fortunately, (unlike online marketplaces) you can ask a sales assistant. All our staff take the time to get to know our stock and understand what the main benefits of each product can be. We're here to help you and save you time.
We read industry magazines. We sample toys, games, and puzzles. We get our kids to test things too. We know the toys in our shops well, and we can help you find the right thing for your needs.
Please always feel free to ask for assistance in our shops, we don't work on commission, and we won't be trying to do a 'hard sell' on some unnecessary product. We're happy to spend twenty minutes finding the right toy train, the perfect puzzle, or even a hard foam ball with just the right level of 'squashiness' for occupational therapy.
Going back to an earlier point, we don't want to stock toys that disappoint people in any way. If we hear negative things about a product we stock we can chase that up directly with suppliers and, where issues can't be rectified, we will take the product out of stock. We will also fight our customer's corner to ensure that they get something worthwhile in the event that something like this happens.
We value the opinions of our customers and good communication (both the positive and negative comments) helps us to ensure the quality of our stock. This in turn helps make our shop better. What you have to say is invaluable to us and it always helps us to improve.
See for yourself
If you don't already, please try shopping indie and compare the experience with online marketplaces. You can shop with us right now by clicking on the menu above. You can also chat to us using email or social media, you'll find some of our contact details at the bottom of this page.
Our shops are open from 9:30am till 5pm Monday to Saturday. Outside of opening hours we may be a little slower to respond but we will try and get back to you as soon as we can.
Here's hoping you pop in to see use too,
Thanks for reading,
All the best,
The Fun Junction Team
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