Mar 2013

Shopping Online For Lighting Can Be a Drag

I buy some stuff online because I really don’t like to shop. I know what I want and if I can’t find it locally I will look for it online. Many people are like me. Then there are many people who like to shop. They will go online for hours looking for good deals on whatever they want to buy even if they can get it down the street for almost the same price. I applaud their passion.

If you have ever shopped online for lighting you might have noticed that most lighting websites look about the same and offer pretty much the same products at pretty much the same prices. Why? Well, except for some very large lighting showrooms and chains who maintain their own online stores, there are only a couple of companies that run e-commerce sites for the retail lighting industry. The reason for this is that there are hundreds of manufacturers that each make thousands of products and a computer link to each manufacturer is necessary to keep prices and sku’s updated. The manufacturers do not have time or resources to link to each showroom so they have linked to just a couple of computer service companies and those companies run all the lighting websites. So except for some custom storefront designs, all the products, search logarithms, drop-downs and prices are the same on all the e-commerce sites.

Prices are the same because most of the major manufacturers have an MAPP, Minimum Advertised Price Policy, and their products can not be advertised for sale at a lower price then the minimum. If you are shopping for a product from one of these manufacturers you will not find it lower than their MAPP. Save your time and buy it from a local showroom who should sell it at the same price and who will stand behind the sale. Products from manufacturers who do not have MAPP policies can be, and are, advertised and sold at whatever price a retailer wants to charge. Some online lighting stores will lead with these discounted prices, but their prices for the MAPP manufacturers will be the same as everybody else.

I guess the advice I want to give is to know what you want before you go shopping. Otherwise you can waste a lot of time. Speaking for myself as a retail lighting showroom owner, if you find a lower price online for the same product you saw at my store I will meet the lower price. I feel that if I do the work to help you find what you want you owe me this favor. I have to be honest about this.

Underwriters Laboratory has a great app called “LightSmart” that you can download at the App Store. It is fun and informative. Also please visit my website at FoggLighting.com to see more about us. I do not maintain a typical lighting e-commerce site. There are just a few items available to purchase online, but all my vendors’ websites are available to view. Please email or call for pricing and availability of items that interest you. Also please email any questions or suggestions to me at sfogg@fogglighting.com.