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The Buying Experience: In-Person vs Internet

Feb 15, 2010

    1. Moderators, please delete if there is a similar topic. I did a forum search and could not locate anything.

      Introduction to Debate:

      I live in Japan. I have been to Dolpas, Sumikas and Tenshi No Sato. And I wonder if perhaps Volks, as a company, values the in-person experience moreso than the internet experience. Perhaps they wish to create a quality experience to help collectors enjoy the dolls more. A consequence of this, however, is that the target market is localized to a country or region.

      On the opposite side of the spectrum are companies that sell anything anywhere using the Internet as their only tool. They use Ebay, international doll dealers and/or sell direct. And then there are other companies, like Soom, which have both internet sales and physical locations.

      Debate Questions:

      If you had a choice, would you prefer to buy dolls in-person or over the internet? Which type of buying experience do you feel is better and why?

      Which is most important to you: accessibility, quality buying experience or the product? In your opinion, can you have one without the other? Is the buying experience a part of the product or should it be?

      Which company-type (NOT company) do you think is best: internet only, internet and in-person or in-person only? Why?
    2. I would love to be able to buy in person, and actually see and handle the doll in person, but that's not an option available to me. The actual product is very important to me, but bad customer service or business practices will make me reluctant to work with a company or distributer again.

      It seems to make the most business sense to me to have both internet and physical locations, especially with such a niche thing as this. The hobbyist, thus the customers, are far flung, and it would be difficult to have physical locations in all the many areas where there would be traffic. Not to mention more expensive than maintaining a website.

      To me, it really makes no difference between internet only and inperson and internet, as I only have access to one. But if I had leave to actually travel where I wanted, I would deffinately lean towards in person and internet sales. There's just a huge difference between waiting months for a doll, and being able to go into the store, see and handle the products (not just dolls, but eyes and wigs and clothing).
    3. I have bought all my dolls online, as stores are just not available in my area, and consequently have resold many dolls when they are not quite what I had hoped for when they arrive. I would love if there were a single location where I could to at least view, if not buy, the dolls I am interested in before committing to a purchase (nothing frustrates me more than a long layaway on a doll only to be disappointed when they arrive and aren't what I expected).

      The problem with that is that a doll company, that is a single brand of doll, would not work for me as I have interest in far too many types of dolls. I would need an archive or library in order to really get to go down my list and see which dolls I want. So really, local doll meets are still the best tool for that. And owner photos on the forum here (though they have mis-sold me on dolls, too).
    4. i would LOVE to buy in-person (being able to SEE the doll IRL before buying would be so helpful too), but unless every major doll company sets up a store in Chicago that's just not going to happen is it?

      In my experience, Pipos has been the best to deal with on a customer-service basis -absolutely the best. if a company has less-than wonderful CS i might be tempted to go the second-hand market route *cough* Customhouse *cough*.

      In the end though, the product is what matters. You could have a box opening or "welcoming" ceremony with incense and gongs and 3 monks chanting while maidens sprinkle rose petals over your doll but if the doll isn't wonderful and doesn't "speak" to you and your aesthetic sensibilities then it's not going to last long is it?
    5. Well, I don't think anyone is going to say, "I would never want to go to a doll store in person! Disgusting!" :lol:

      On the other hand, when spending this much money we like to be really sure of our decision, and it might be awkward hanging around a physical store as often as we go to the website to stare at pictures! Or Elphsnt, do you find you can decide which doll you want faster when you're at a physical store?

      I guess if you wanted to find pro's to internet shopping, they'd be greater selection, easier comparison shopping, and greater convenience. About the same as internet vs. in-person shopping for any other item. Plus some people just really love getting stuff in the mail. :)

      As far as the experience of buying a doll though, I'd say that what with our waiting rooms, box opening threads, etc. we have our own little way of making it special. Some people like that moment of suspense when you finally open the box of a doll you've been waiting for for months and see it in person for the first time. :)

      In conclusion, I'm going to go with internet and in-person as the ideal company type. Why limit your options?
    6. I much prefer the anonymity of the Internet. Dolls or books or food, I'd rather buy online. It might sound silly, but going into a a store and not buying anything makes me feel awkward, as if I'm taking advantage of the merchant. Then I buy things I don't need, which makes me feel that I've been taking advantage of... yes, the whole act of consumption is more uncomfortable for me when in person.
    7. I like to buy online due to the amount of people who take the
      fun out of enjoying just about everything. To many negative shoppers.
    8. Most things I prefer to buy over the internet. But I'd love the chance to buy dolls in person.
    9. I would never go to a doll store.
      Nothing against doll stores, but I am really bad at math, and it's easier for me to keep within my spending limit on the Internet when I have time to re-arrange and re-prioritize and think it over.
      It would be nice to go to a doll store where I'm not eyeballing something to see if it will fit, especially if they have demo models. But my wallet couldn't handle it!
    10. If you had a choice, would you prefer to buy dolls in-person or over the internet? Which type of buying experience do you feel is better and why?
      Both have an advantage. In the end i think being able to order over the internet is my preference, but being able to go into a store, handle the doll or atleast see it in person and the size would be great! I don't generally allow myself to feel pressured to buy things, the store owner cant expect everyone to come in and buy something or every doll they inquire about in this case.

      Which is most important to you: accessibility, quality buying experience or the product? In your opinion, can you have one without the other? Is the buying experience a part of the product or should it be?
      The buying experience should definitely be a part of the product. For me that means customer service and communication. If a company has poor communication, doesn't handle issues well, etc... even if the item is gorgeous, easy to get and great quality... I would avoid it. Personally I expect a good mixture of all these qualities when I am buying something.

      Which company-type (NOT company) do you think is best: internet only, internet and in-person or in-person only? Why? __________________
      I think having internet and in person is the best option if possible. People vary, some can see a doll online and research and know its the right one. Other like me can see it online, research and then get it in person and its just not the same. I'm also a lover of options in general though. But if you cant do both, internet for me, otherwise I wouldn't really get to own any of these lovely resin folk!
    11. I would love to see dolls in person before I buy and would prefer it if it was a really great shop and the people were nice. On the other hand, if the owners or people working there were pushy, elitist (and yes, I believe they exist), or otherwise irritating, I would rather order over the internet. One reason I really love conventions is that it is fun to see a lot of different dolls in person without being in a store. I have ordered several dolls after seeing them in person at a doll meet or convention.
    12. If you had a choice, would you prefer to buy dolls in-person or over the internet? Which type of buying experience do you feel is better and why?

      >>>> i don't have a choice other than the internet, but if i did, i'd rather view the doll in person and test its poseability before purchasing

      Which is most important to you: accessibility, quality buying experience or the product? In your opinion, can you have one without the other? Is the buying experience a part of the product or should it be?

      >>>> the product is most important to me. having said that, if i had an unpleasant buying experience, it would put me off buying from that company again.

      Which company-type (NOT company) do you think is best: internet only, internet and in-person or in-person only? Why?

      >>>> both. a company does need a bricks and mortar presence to cater to those who want an in-person experience, but since BJDs are a niche market, it would be financially prohibitive to have "branches" in all major cities so an internet presence would provide wider accessibility.
    13. If there were any kind of BJD store near me, I would probably visit every week!

      I prefer to buy things I see in a physical store. At a recent anime con I had a chance to purchase a wig I had wanted for a while, and it felt good that I was able to see the wig right there before I bought it, I saved on shipping costs and had the wig in hand without having to wait for it to ship.

      If only one of these companies would at least open a showroom in my area; there's a lot of doll fans here and I believe they'd get good business!
    14. I am very happy buying not only dolls but pretty much everything in my life over the Internet, wherever possible. It's been a godsend. I have very little time to go to physical stores, and hate wasting my time when for instance I get there and find out that whatever it is, might be sold out, or not available in the color/ size I wanted, and so forth. Parking or alternate transportation is often a hassle, I don't deal well with crowds or the lack of air circulation/ temp control in malls, and I also have to eat on a regular schedule and decent food is not always available in or around shops. I enjoy going out to a specialty shop (like fine gifts or jewelry) once in a while, but it's definitely something I have to plan for and work into my schedule, and realistically speaking I only get out to a physical store once every few weeks - a large mall, only about twice a year.

      I went to the mall Saturday to buy something I thought I could most easily get there, and discovered it to be horribly crowded and hot to the point where I got sick and faint and had a hard time finding a place to sit down. On top of that, I couldn't find what I wanted after checking two department stores where I'd bought it before. It turned out to have been discontinued in the color mix I was looking for. I came home and found someone selling like 10 packs of it on eBay so I could have just spared myself the whole inconvenience and next time I probably will.

      Before the Internet, I bought a lot of things mail order from paper catalogs for the same reasons.

      I also have to say I don't like interacting with sales people when I shop, even if they're nice. I usually know pretty much exactly what I want when I go in the store and if I see something else I wish to consider, I don't want them trying to "make a sale" or otherwise being "helpful" because I want to think about the item Myself. If they stay out of my way and confine themselves to being all ready behind the counter to ring me up when I've made a decision and want to check out, that's all the help I need - and too often that's the one place they are not, and I don't like to have to wait.

      If dolls were sold only at showrooms and not online, I would own far fewer of them for all of the above reasons.
    15. Of course there are more actual ABJD shops in Asia, because the scene started in Asia, & the market hasn't quite caught on far enough in the rest of the world. This doesn't mean other continents don't value that "quality in-person shopping experience", it might just mean that they don't have the market to support it [yet]. A whole scene of brick-and-mortar stores like that takes a large, reliable, well-known market to draw from, and ABJD are still pretty much a "niche" market in the Americas & Europe. (It's still expanding in Asia, too, for that matter; Soom didn't always have that store in Tokyo.)

      But I don't think it really matters, at all, for shopping. I've been to the Volks stores in-person in Japan, I've been to Dolpas in NYC & LA, I've bought secondhand dolls in-person from local owners, and I've shopped just about everywhere online. There are both pros and cons to shopping online & in-person. In person, you get to see things closer up & you don't have to worry about shipping. But you get stuffy shops, hovering salespeople, and that neverending tape-loop of "The Rose" and "Amazing Grace" that Volks seems bent on playing at all their stores. Online, you get to take all the time you want, pore obsessively over things, do your math carefully, and not feel that on-site pressure to buy something just because it's cute & you're there. But you also don't get to see the full measure of the item in person, there is the risk of wondering how close it is to the picture, there are shipping-costs and waiting-times.

      So-- I would prefer to shop both ways. Those who care about the experience itself, are free to discriminate; for those who are focused on the prize, the method utterly doesn't matter. When I am looking for something, it doesn't matter how or where I find it, as long as I find it.

      (PS @ Bunnydots: "I shoulda just gone on eBay" is my whole summary of the Christmas-shopping season! :lol: Malls, fageddaboudit.)
    16. I prefer to do most of my normal shopping online. It's how I do all my Christmas/birthday gifts. However, if I could buy dolls in person I would. There's a couple of people in my doll group I've thanked for introducing me to a sculpt in person. It helped me immensely in my purchasing decisions. Ideally I guess I'd like to do most of the research online, then go pick up my chosen doll in person.

      What, seriously? I didn't know that! :XD:
    17. Well, maybe that's only at the end of the day when they want to subtly encourage you to leave. :whee: We were just there in October, maybe they've changed their playlist by now; I just remember being alarmed to hear that they used the same aural weaponry in multiple stores.
    18. I'd love to be able to see the dolls in person and buy them but that's not an option. Maybe if I could go to a Dolpa, I could have that experience, but even then, it's possible for them to be sold out! So I only have the internet. So far only a few dolls have been sold since I got them.
    19. You forgot Aul Lang Syne, Volks always plays that, it's the "Get the Hell Out" we're closing song.

      I've shopped on-line and gone to Japanese Dolpas, NY Dolpas, Japanese VS member only events, Sato events, Volks After Events, Doll Show, I Doll West, and visited lots of second hand shops in Japan from Mandarake to Dolks (the Korean/Dollheart store in Osaka)

      Personally, I would rather undergo dental surgery without anesthetic than try to buy a Japanese Dolpa LE at a Japanese Dolpa. The getting up at the crack of dawn to wait in line FOR A LOTTERY TICKET to give you your actual space in line and to then wait in line to see if you get a little voucher and then wait to pay if you are actually lucky enough to get one.... Give me the VolksUSA lottery any day... in a second! Maybe I won't get to see the doll in person or get my doll immediately, but I'd so much rather apply for a lottery via the internet and not give up hours of my time. While placing my Sato FCS order is a fun and exciting experience, some of the "experiences" of buying dolls in person are most DEFINITELY NOT I think the Sato event where the white skin Yuki was released in October 2007 where you could not get into Sato as there were 1200 people there was completely dreadful. These are not experiences that are going to make me enjoy my dolls more. These are experiences that instead make me rethink ever attending say a Sato event or trying to get a Dolpa LE in person, again. I'd even much rather pay a scalper on Y!J than go through the hours in line. It's soul crushing.

      What I don't like about purchasing on-line is sometimes the company's photos either don't do a mold justice (Volks frequently) or do a good job of hiding flaws. I adore Blue Fairy/MinoruWorld because their dolls tend to look exactly like any pictures they share.

      Of the dolls I've kept and not sold, the majority came from purchases on-line rather than dolls I purchased in person.
    20. I definitely would rather pay the extra to a scalper too, than go through that. I have heard that the Dolpas have limited dolls, limited outfits, and other things going on, and you are often so time-limited because if you want a limited doll you'd have to spend all your time waiting for that, and the other things will be gone or over by the time you get out of the line for the doll. I honestly can't see how other people find these experiences to be the least bit enjoyable or fun. I realize that for some people, crazy fandoms like that are part of the enjoyment but I'm not one of those people, for dolls or for celebrities or for anything else. When I know that for like 500-1000 dollars more I can skip the whole thing (including hotel and transportation costs as well as the cost of me taking off work and standing in lines all day) and just buy one from a reseller, heck, I"ll go for the reseller any old day if I love the sculpt that much...and fortunately I don't love that many Volks sculpts so it hasn't been a grave hardship.