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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fender Going Direct Via The Web?

Fender sign image
We all have a love/hate relationship with our local music retailer. In some cases, they're a most valuable resource, loaning gear when needed, allowing us to try different products before we decide to buy, and providing last-minute help to get us through the next gig.

In other cases that have been well-documented here, they have been cold, hard to connect with, money-grabbing, inexperienced and unknowledgeable, and generally unhelpful. And anywhere in between. Still, most of us wouldn't trade a relationship with a good dealer for anything in the world.

That's why it's more than disturbing about the news of Fender planning to sell direct via its website (as reported by Music and Sound Retailer - thanks for the heads-up Rob Carty). Fender announced the fact at a recent dealer meeting at it's factory in Corona, CA, and I'm sure it went over like a lead balloon with that group.

Actually Fender dipped its toe in the water last year when it offered custom-designed guitars from its Custom Shop via its website. Other manufacturers like Taylor have a similar program, but at least the final transaction is done through a dealer.

We all buy music gear online because sometimes it's just faster and easier. Some types of audio gear and music accessories typically don't require trying the item before you buy it, so there's little risk of getting something unexpected. That said, I can't imagine someone buying a guitar online (except for a vintage instrument, and even then....).

As music pros out there know, line up a dozen identical instruments and one or two will just have some magic that the others don't have. That's one thing a dealer can provide that's a crucial factor for the serious musician.

I suppose it's the wave of the future for all manufacturers to go direct in some form, but if that happens, they shouldn't lament the fact that the local dealer is becoming a dying breed, and the ones that are left show no brand loyalty. Who can blame them?
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4 comments:

Scott said...

I think this is inevitable. Things seems to be trending towards this. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing - just a different source to buy from. Like other companies, they will continue to sell online, and at dealers, or maybe as with Apple et al, sell online, at dealers, and then open their own stores. However, when a Fender.com employee can't even answer a specific question I emailed them about pickups (didn't know the answer, and didn't seem to care enough to direct me to someone that might!), then I'm wondering if they've got other things they should be dealing with first!

Scott said...

Also, with online direct sales, I find that "the price is the price." There's no haggling, or sales (unless they are clearing something out). I buy from my local shop because they have a no-nonsense 30 day refund policy, and frequently offer 6 month 0% financing - which coincidentally I just used to buy a Fender guitar yesterday.

D Dyer said...

I saw this one coming. Gibson is almost going direct with Amazon. New Gibsons, Fenders and PRS sell very well online according to my Sweetwater rep who instructed me on the fine art of selling guitars online. The rep will take the guitar for a few days to describe it.

D Dyer said...

Amazon and Paypal Credit provide easy ways to finance new Gibsons and Fenders online. Many online merchants and certainly the big ones provide payment and financing plans. This should be the least problem. Fender is not going to price dealers out and their selling prices should reflect the retail sell price. Most likely the discounts will be through dealers. Fender cannot extinguish the channel but its going to get squeezed with fewer dealers in the future.

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