The time has come to give my kitchen a makeover. Or rather, I should say, the time has come to give the second half of my kitchen a makeover. This boils down to a kitchen sink, a tap and a work surface. As I see it, I have two choices. I could head off to a kitchen and bathroom specialist and pay them a few thousand pounds to come and install the stuff but thatâ€™s a bit over the top for such a small job. At the other end of the scale, DIY isnâ€™t an option as my plumbing skills stop at a Zalman Reserator 1. Instead, I shall buy the sink for about Â£150 and a tap for Â£200 and get a bloke to cobble it all together. I donâ€™t expect to buy another sink for many, many years so while itâ€™s not a great deal of money I want to make very sure indeed that I get a decent piece of kit that looks the part and works well. Iâ€™ve spent quite some time looking at manufacturerâ€™s websites and browsing through brochures, which means that when the time comes Iâ€™ll know the specific make and model I want. This makes it quite easy to find the best deal at one of the online stores or even on eBay as the purchase is the easy part of the job.
Although the manufacturers are happy to provide very useful buying guides, superb catalogues and detailed technical drawings, I am surprised that none of them will deal direct with the buying public. I fully understand that none of the manufacturers want to upset the specialist retailers and installers in case they get passed over in favour of one of their competitors but Iâ€™m going to buy from one of the online box shifters anyway so the manufacturer or UK importer may as well make the margin for themselves, which will save at least one lorry journey across the country which has to be a good thing.
Youâ€™d have thought that the extra money they will earn would more than compensate for the hassle of dealing with the buying public, especially as a decent website will take most of that burden off them.
Software companies often have the luxury of using the Internet both to take orders and also to supply the goods by download. Anti-virus companies are particularly good at this trick and Valveâ€™s Steam has effectively turned Valve from a games developer into a publisher by delivering content direct to the customer.
Itâ€™s trickier with hardware as you have a physical object to deliver but it can be done and if you want a precedent you only have to take a look at Apple. You can buy an iPod nano from Amazon, Dabs or Ebuyer, or you can head over to the Apple Store either online or on the High Street. That last option assumes you live in London but we all know that the world starts at Oxford Circus and ends at Tottenham Court Road. Of course Apple is in a unique position in the world of IT as you generally go shopping for either a PC or for a Mac, so Mesh and Evesham have to fight it out with Dell while Apple sales serenely across the Niche Sea.