Blogging about harddisk shopping…

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Where to buy an external harddrive when you know you need one?
Usually my purchase decision-making processes are fairly complex. Often more complex than necessary. That’s the fate of many marketing people. Anyways, having bypassed the procedure of realizing a true need, I at once jumped into the phase of searching for the ideal shop. The next big issue. A big electronics chain such as Conrad, Media Markt or Saturn? Or rather an online store? The first offer the opportunity of really being able to hold the product in your hands. That is, if it is unpacked. The „price you pay“? Usually unexperienced personnel with no time always in search for the next shelf to hide behind. I must say I barely shop there because of a constant fear of being fooled by the advertised special offers (which often are attractive, I must admit) while other products cost more than elsewhere. But even if the price seems right, does the product really hold up to the promises of the store clerk? Or is he just trying to sell what the management told him to, for example to get rid of overstock. Decision-making can be a pain in the ass in our culture of affluence. Buy a TV and choose between a hundred different models. Buy an mp3 player and you’ll be overwhelmed by at least 25 models, many many more when shopping online. This is the golden hour of strong brands serving as lighthouses, visible from afar although perhaps equipped just like the others. Take a basic iPod for example. Comparing such a magnitude of products is almost impossible. At least in the store. But there is one feature, one critical advantage of online stores that no clerk can outmatch. The objective and critical opinion of the crowd, of the masses of consumers out there, all searching to maximize their utility given a certain budget they are willing to pay. Recommendations put light into the darkness. They offer personal impressions that are so much closer to everybody’s daily life. They praise good products and positive experiences hoping that when you do good something good might come back to you. And although this system could theoretically be corrupted by companies, in the overall run it can be trusted.
This leads me back to my initial purchase process. I need a new external harddrive.
As time is usually limited, I too, am glad about every simplification and short cut. So it was a reasonable thing to first check for harddrives. The benefits? Good overview of what harddrives currently offer, a good impression of the price level, and user insights on most of the products offered. This eased my choice alot. I barely felt a risk buying a product that with more than 80 recensions received an average of 4,7 stars. Plus free shipping on top. This post is not intended to glorify amazon but it just shows why amazon is so popular and the perfect place to shop for me. At least when it comes to electronics. Amazon is also an example of the democratizizing effect of the internet. It may be easy for a store clerk to fool a pensionist but given the transparency of prices and product evaluations on the internet, the internet gave the consumer one thing: power. Power to quickly access expert knowledge, to easily compare and to look behind the product specifications on the package. May the best platform win!

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