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Are Americans driven by price, and Canadians driven by Quality

My experience with 15 years in E-Commerce



1:53 am on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It never used to be this way.

When I started with E-Commerce in 1998, I was successful in both the US and Canadian Markets. Back in those days, things were Made in the USA.

It never hit me over the head, but slowly things changed, and now practically everything is made overseas. Also quality has gone down hill in general.

Don't get me wrong, you can obtain quality goods from the developing asian markets, given the proper oversight on design and quality control.

However there also appears to be another market, to deliver crap, at the lowest price, who purpose is to serve the American market, and people are buying it.

This is probably why that huge retailer that I will not mention by name, will quickly wipe out main street, when they setup shop.

We also have this huge retailer in Canada, however it has virtually no impact on main street. Sure it is busy, but then in Canada, many has the mindset towards quality. They wan't to buy something that is well engineered, and will last. Also, we do not tolerate crappy customer service.

I am seeing the same thing with E-Commerce. I have many websites. Some only service the Canadian Market.

Others serve both the Canadian and American markets, but they are niche sites, with little competition, so they are forced to buy quality.

I have a couple which are not niche, and serve the 24-35 demographic, and with these I have considerable trouble making inroads into the US market.

I have lots of competition, and they compete on price, and you guess it; they sell crap.

I'm trying to find ways to target the 24-35 demographic, that has a taste for quality, at a reasonable price. It's a tough sell, and some days I think they don't exist.

I even thinking of doing up adword ads that say, we don't sell crap (in more diplomatic language), for our American Customers.

My sincere apology to my American Brethren in E-Commerce; this is not meant to be derogatory to Americans; but towards demographic trends I am see.

Hopefully one that will switch back to quality in future years.


2:39 am on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Sorry to break the news..but..unless you are making what you sell ..it could actually be from anywhere..

I have at least 5 regular suppliers in "Asia" ( 2 of whom I have been in contact with in the last 24 hours ) who supply both the USA and Canada..They all have offered to me to supply me with "my own brand" goods" ( these are major OEM apparel manufacturers ) marked ""Made in France or "Made in the UK" or "Made in the EU" or "Made in..my choice of country" with these "Made in ..." labels covered during manufacture with "easily removable labels" which state their actual countries of manufacture for "customs" and import restrictions , marketing purposes..

They currently supply goods "treated" this way to major USA, Canadian, Australian and UK and EU brands..
I have been sent many samples of the supplied goods ( with the major brands labels..original merchandise..outsourced..not counterfeit ) to "OK" for quality control down the last 30 or 40 years..

In a current example ( on a hanger behind me as I type ) I have an item which is made in Asia and supplied all across the USA and Canada under various "Made in USA" or "Made in Canada" and with various household name "brands"..it costs just $22.oo FOB per piece..in lots of 5 ..per colour and per design..and they are supplying it with "double labels" ( I have always said no to this practice for my items )..to various importers, wholesalers and retailers in the USA and Canada..also in the UK and EU and Australia..

It is at this moment available on various websites in the USA and Canada at prices per unit ranging from $80.oo to $379.oo ..both of those prices are from companies who are being supplied directly by the Asian suppliers that I use..Both make a point of saying how their items are "Made in the USA" and "Made in Canada"..their labels ( once the "in transit" double labels are removed ) say this too..

BTW the $379.oo item is claiming to be "Made in the USA"..by hand no less..( with a 4 week delay and a $50.oo surcharge for "made to measure")..actual delay is 3 days manufacturing, plus 3 for courier shipping and $5.oo "made to measure charges..courier charges are about $25.oo from Asia to North American zone for this item ..weighs less than 1kg..

This is standard practice and is decades old ..way back into the 60's and 70s..

Very very few things are made where they say they are..sometimes even the guy making the thing by hand in front of you, has an Asian supplier only a DHL flight away producing the largest part of what is on their shelves or their website..

Customs let a lot slide..because they know that if push comes to shove the importers ( who are in the case of some of the major apparel companies, huge and publicly traded, and who have large distribution workforces and well known "Made in...." brand names ) will quietly threaten "local job losses" ..and the customs officials etc know that the cases will be dropped and that making waves is bad for ones career..

My "own brand" merchandise is actually made to my own designs, and carries my registered trademarks..it does not claim to be manufactured anywhere other than its true countries of manufacture..it does claim to be "Designed in France"..because that is where I actually do design it :)..oh and yes ..Asian manufacturers can and do produce some superb high quality items ..mine do, and I tell them so, and pay extra in appreciation ..:)


12:06 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Interesting Leosghost. In Canada, we have strict country of origin rules, and trying this here would lead to heavy fines and seizure of goods, if caught.

I'm sure it is done, but the risks are great. If complicity with the importer is proven, you could find yourself staying "At Her Majesty's pleasure".

Actually, I'm not as concern about the origin of goods, but buying habbits between Americans and Canadians, when it comes to Quality vs Price issues.


1:53 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Great post Leosghost


2:18 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In our niche, we find many customers asking for USA made goods but few willing to pay the price. P

You might look at some successful high end retailers for ideas. To me it is the strength of their brand and the relationship they build with their customers that allow them to sell higher end products. One such example is Nordstrom.


2:59 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I just went to Nordstrom..I'm looking at an awful lot of Asian made apparel there with markups of 10 to 15 times FOB price..ie $60.oo* dollar FOB jackets at $850.oo retail( in some cases I have the same items ) price is not an infallible guide to provenance or quality..

Good quality yes..but it would be just as good quality were it priced at a more reasonable ( given the scale at which they buy and deal) price of $150.00 to $250.oo ..

*I have the specific item at that price, same manufacturer, same quality..and I only take them 5 pcs per time ..they take them at min 100 pcs per time and get at least 25% discount on what I pay..


3:32 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

OK, how about American Apparel as exclusively made in USA? They have been losing money, however.


3:32 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that insight Leosghost. I love this place.


3:59 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

@mattb..Ok went there for a look, got bounced to my region ..EU..checked quickly ( 'cos I'm doing something else at the moment ;-) for what I sell most of..they have some..they do not claim "it" comes from the USA..( they actually say it "comes from all over the world" ) ..they have it at 3.5 times FOB price..

My verdict ..based on that extremely cursory check..and from what you say about their balance sheet .."They appear to be honest, low margin, maybe too honest and low margin to compete with those others who are not as honest and who have far higher margins"

They also have a very user friendly site..and onsite search works well ..

Their "Made in the USA" tagline does not appear to apply to all their items..but they do mark non USA made items as being non USA..from what I saw..


4:16 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Reminds me of Don Henley's.. Month of Sundays..


6:27 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Hasn't there started being a trend of lawsuits from the private sector, against companies selling "Made in the USA" that really isn't?

I think you can compete with quality, but you almost have to go completely the opposite direction, and try to appeal to the people who actually WANT something to be expensive... Really expensive. Because that is their barometer for quality, and they have the money to throw away on it. But at that level you really have to back it up.

If I was in the clothing biz, I would almost consider having an article on my site exposing these unfair and illegal practices. Assuming you wouldn't end up having your car blown up or something. :)

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