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  1. #1
    Admin EyeReef's Avatar
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    Default Question of the week. How LFS can compete with the popularity of online sales?

    Once a week, we will have a question presented to the community. The member with the best answer will get their answer featured on the front page. The answer must be no longer than 3 sentences. The answer with the most likes will win. Winner will get a SCR shirt shipped. Inappropriate answers will automatically be deleted (politics/profanity/immaturity, etc)

    Question of the week is
    How can local fish stores compete with the popularity of online sales?



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  2. #2
    send nudes
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    i haven't posted, and i'm already disqualified....


    i think knowledge and customer service can win a lot of people over the online stuff... but most common reefers are lowballers and tight arses... they will go out of their way to save a buck.... but most LFS can't compete with online prices... so it's a real struggle...

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  4. #3
    Premium Member lowbudget's Avatar
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    almost the same as @gumbii.

    there are 2 LFS in our area, bob tropical and Pasadena tropical. they don't have the best inventory. but if you ask they can get it for you. they don't try to up sell you. if you buy you buy. they know a bit about the hobby and make some suggestions. those guys remember your name and remember you left a deposit on a carpet nem 6 months ago, when you show up one day he hold a bag in your face and say heres your nem. hahahahah. thats Steve
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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowbudget View Post
    almost the same as @gumbii.

    there are 2 LFS in our area, bob tropical and Pasadena tropical. they don't have the best inventory. but if you ask they can get it for you. they don't try to up sell you. if you buy you buy. they know a bit about the hobby and make some suggestions. those guys remember your name and remember you left a deposit on a carpet nem 6 months ago, when you show up one day he hold a bag in your face and say heres your nem. hahahahah. thats Steve
    i like the guys from bob's... that's why i rather buy plants from them, than order from ebay and save some cash... they know what's up...

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  7. #5
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    Cleanliness to me is very important to attract customers.
    Decent pricing, don't have to be cheap or online pricing but also not dramatic difference from other LFS.
    Most of all, excellent customer service I think would help to keep a customer coming back and stay loyal.
    Drifters do it slidewayzzz

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowbudget View Post
    almost the same as @gumbii.

    there are 2 LFS in our area, bob tropical and Pasadena tropical. they don't have the best inventory. but if you ask they can get it for you. they don't try to up sell you. if you buy you buy. they know a bit about the hobby and make some suggestions. those guys remember your name and remember you left a deposit on a carpet nem 6 months ago, when you show up one day he hold a bag in your face and say heres your nem. hahahahah. thats Steve
    Bob's is one store I would keep going back due to the fact that they maintain clean tanks and a clean store. Always asking if you need help and give advice when you have a question or some type of issue or concern.

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    Quality, product knowledge, customer service,and passionate about what they are doing.
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    A good Lfs need to have a good variety of dry goods and livestock. They need to be knowledgeable about most aspect of tank issues and needs. Last and not least, great customer service.

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    Lets not get off topic.
    I think local fish stores will always be able to compete with online sales because...
    1) There is a person there who may be able to offer their own opinion or personal experience about an item if needed to help you decide.
    2) In most cases it's still nicer to interact directly with another human being.
    3) We get the instant gratification of being able to have "it" now instead of wait for "it" to be delivered.
    4) I can deal in cash and keep the wife from finding out exactly how much I actually spend on this damned hobby!

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  17. #10
    Livin' the Reef Life
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    The LFS has several advantages over online vendors (i.e. customer is able to see product in person and bring product home immediately without waiting for shipping). In my experience, where the average LFS loses their advantage is in lack of quality selection and higher prices than online vendors. So to compete with online vendors (and win), keep quality livestock for both high roller and bread and butter shoppers with accessible prices (doesn't have to be cheap but should compete with online vendors), and build quality relationships with customers.

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  19. #11
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    Sometimes you can't have both high end and starter coral... The beginner will like something and ask for the price, then think the store is mega expensive... I've seen it all the time... If you have high end pieces, you lose the people that go there for the xenia and green sticks... Lol... But if you don't have a variety of nice le pieces, the reef snobs won't bother going back... It's a hard balance to maintain...

    And as for the comment about having someone at a store telling you their experience and advice... Remember that some of them are there to sell fish... To them it's a hustle... Most lfs will rather sell you a bottle of chemi clean than tell you to feed your fish less or something simple to control phosphates... Online is only safe to buy if you're already in the hobby for a number of years...

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  21. #12
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    I think Ali has the best example of a good LFS. He doesn't upsell, he has great customer service, and his store is one of the nicest looking stores around. Everyone knows Ali, and he does zero advertising.

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  23. #13
    Contributing Member All Delight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joseserrano View Post
    I think Ali has the best example of a good LFS. He doesn't upsell, he has great customer service, and his store is one of the nicest looking stores around. Everyone knows Ali, and he does zero advertising.
    His LFS is like Cheers. You walk in and he greets you by your name. You feel 100% welcome.

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  25. #14
    Contributing Member All Delight's Avatar
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    LFS and online has their pros and cons. LFS needs to identify their pros and build on that. Rather than identifying their cons and trying to step up to meet or beat online stores. Prices? It's almost impossible for you to beat online. Inventory? You can't beat online, it will cost you too much to stock it all.

    This is how I look at it. If you want to win a sport in the Olympics and you can enter high jump or 100 meter dash, why would you enter the 100 meter dash if you can't run fast. What's the point of training and trying to get to the level of your competition when the odds are stacked against you. But if you're a naturally a good jumper, then put forth your effort in excelling in that sport.

    IMO LFS can excel in livestock. Everyone wants to see fish eat, swim, exact size, personality, etc. Same with corals, everyone wants to see coral under "white light" even though no one runs white light. I'll never get that reasoning. Anyways, LFS can take advantage of that market. Fish and coral are 100% impulsive purchases. Everyone in the hobby, buys that "last" fish. That one more coral. That fish they know will probably get beat up by their other fish. When's the last time you went and bought a skimmer or light on impulse.

    Look at Tongs, huge selection of fish. And that register just keeps ringing.

    Age of Aquariums, great store, nice overall selection, but their service maintenance keeps their doors open, not equipment sales or livestock sales to walk ins.

    People won't buy a $20 fish online and pay $50 to ship. Nor do most people wants to spend enough money on fish to qualify for free shipping.

    Identify your cliental and go after them. If you're a LFS your cliental isn't the customer who comes to your store, talk to you about skimmers for 30 mins, walks out the door saying he'll think about it, goes home and orders on amazon to save $6. If those are the customers you're trying to catch or appeal to you've already lost.

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  27. #15
    Premium Member reefes pieces's Avatar
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    There's only one major difference between an LFS and online stores for the average consumer and that is having a human presence. I'm far too under qualified to present the appropriate business model but the common theme to a successful LFS is the person behind the counter. Far too often niche and hobby markets employ very knowledgeable people in their industry that lack soft skills and approachability. They may have the best selection of everything but their success will be marginal if that. Great stores employ knowledgeable people that are attentive to every customer that walks in and voluntarily shares their wisdom to every customer whether they're buying water or a turn key system. If they don't have that then what value do they present over the internet competitors?
    Professional coral killer

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