We are a typical online store. With all the pros and cons e-commerce usually has. Practically, we are an online platform with automatic order processing and mathematical optimization of all operations — from advertising to logistics. This business model implies continuous and relentless reduction of all possible expenses. Headquartered in Estonia, we pay a notary 100 times less than we would have to pay for the same services in Italy. Our team is composed of professionals who work remotely. Thus, in our budget there are no expenditures related to living in expensive cities and working in posh offices. We do not rent showrooms and exhibition stands. The key advantage we offer is convenient prices (along with customer-friendly search, intuitive and well-structured website, online payment, shipment tracking, customer reviews about their experience and the goods they buy, etc.).
However, selecting tiles on a PC screen or based on the tile samples we deliver by courier, our customers might encounter some difficulties. Like any discount store, we are rigorously persecuted by authorized dealers who are usually devoted to the "old school" offline sales. Besides, tile manufacturers are not pretty enthusiastic about our activity as well. They have a firmly established vision of retail and consumer relations. Their approach is often based on fixing higher prices for prosperous countries and safeguarding the status quo (no matter how progressive the new developments (like Internet) may be).
This is how it works.
Having once applied to an authorized dealer in search of tiles, you automatically become a link in a food supply chain, regardless of all your further actions and decisions. This particular shop gets possession of your personal information (name, address of a construction site, list of requested materials, etc.) and is absolutely convinced (together with tile manufacturers) that you are obliged to make a purchase with them. They deprive you of the right to choose and spend less. For this purpose, authorized dealers struggle to defeat their competitors (other authorized and so-called "gray" dealers, among which we are also sometimes ranked being an online store beyond the "fossilized" retail philosophy), who skip tile manufacturers and purchase the goods from their dealers somewhere in unwealthy Krakozhia, since the prices set for such markets are much more reasonable. The manufacturers start meticulously monitoring all orders they receive willing to identify your order. If there is the slightest suspicion that the order is not placed by an authorized dealer to whom you have once applied, the shipment is banned. In this way, tile manufacturers protect the profits and cover the expenses (often unreasonable and caused by inefficient business operations) of authorized dealers. This is a manifestation of common protectionism. Yet, we would recommend to our customers a behavior pattern to follow.
While visiting a showroom, leave scarce information about yourselves. Having taken the final decision, do not familiarize an authorized dealer with the bill of materials. Request quotes from several suppliers. Even if such suppliers are regarded as "gray" dealers, the difference in price would compensate for the lack of glitz and glamor in the retailer's name. Keep in mind one thing. Having swallowed the bait of an authorized dealer and having shown your potential order to him, you will not be able purchase the materials anywhere else. Official representatives of the manufacturers keep fighting with everyone who tries to cut your expenses. Protection of high markup which justify the expenses of conservative showrooms (rental charges, exhibition booths, illumination, etc.) vividly illustrates the conflict of interests between the outdated offline business and the rampant e-commerce. The trend is overwhelming, no matter we speak about ceramic tiles or Swiss watches. There is no doubt, sooner or later, tile manufacturers will give up on their self-defeating efforts to draw the line and ignore the huge audience of the Internet. The ostrich attitude would be nothing else but waste of time. We invite those tile manufacturers who rigorously block online sales to join this discussion. We welcome your feedback on the issue in any of our blogs (either on website or in social media). It will be certainly translated into all languages we speak. Please do not fight the windmills, let's talk about the problem outlined in this blog. We promise to show all your comments and provide substantive response. As a case study, we will send an invitation to join the discussion to the official Email addresses of Mirage, the renowned Italian manufacturer of porcelain tiles, who has recently banned all the dealers from shipping the materials to us with the sole purpose of making our customer from Finland buy their overpriced tiles from an authorized dealer. Obviously, such actions help tile manufacturers maintain unreasonably high retail prices, and back up their unwillingness to suit the requirements of the fast-paced market.
Do you agree or what?
P.S. We have made multiple endeavors to receive the feedback from Mirage, though no response has been given. We sincerely hope that an open discussion on our website with a monthly target audience of over 100,000 visitors, would arouse more interest with Mirage. Meanwhile, we keep growing our website traffic, which, soon enough, is supposed to reach 1 mln visitors per month — if 100,000 customers are still being neglected.