Support Your Local Dive Shop, BUT…
How does your local dive shop service measure up against Amazon? There is some controversy in the scuba industry about going to Amazon and other e-commerce sites for scuba gear, over supporting local brick-and-mortar dive shops.
Is Amazon bad for brick-and-mortar scuba retail?
The short answer is no. In general, consumers are more educated than they have been in the past, giving them the power to make changes in the retail world. Now, businesses that change and move with the times are those that will be most successful. Those that stick with more traditional business processes most likely won’t survive.
Traditionally brick-and-mortar retail chains that have embraced the digital age offer new services, such as:
- In-store pickup
- Strong e-commerce platforms
- Curbside delivery
With these channels in place, they can continue to expand their operations.
Let’s apply this to scuba retail
First of all, the two things about a local dive shop that you can’t supplement with Amazon are
- You can’t fill your cylinders online
- The in-person conversations you can have with other divers
- You can walk in, and walk out with the item you need (if they have it!)
While it’s important to support local, brick and mortar dive shops, this shouldn’t mean blind loyalty to a center purely based on close location, especially if they haven’t evolved with the changes in the scuba retail world.
Some dive shops are taking advantage of Amazon by using it as a platform to offer customers a better experience while reaching a broader audience. In this case, maybe you need a specific scuba mask. If you find it from a dive center that is in a different state from you, you not only support a local shop, but are able to tap into the convenience that Amazon provides.
Amazon has forced retailers in all sectors to up their game, and scuba is no exception! Dive shops can no longer afford:
- Bad customer service, because Amazon has good customer service
- Employees who know nothing about the products, because customers can easily research reviews, specs, and comparative prices all from their phone.
- Low inventory or out-of-date inventory information
- A generally sloppy online presence
Most customer journeys today start on a digital platform, so if a dive shop has no e-commerce platform, up-to-date inventory, or searchability, they are already losing the battle. Absolutely support your local dive shop, but within reason. Make sure that you are choosing a dive shop that offers you value beyond the convenience and price of Amazon.