Online shops - all the same stuff???

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 elliot.baker 16 Aug 2021

I am having somewhat of an epiphany and not sure if I'm behind the times here or what...

Looking to buy furniture for new babies room, and I'm realising that many online shops appear to sell stuff (like say a chair) which they have listed as their brand, but then if you do a reverse google image search you find the exact same chair (with the exact same images) on many websites, under many different brand names... and more importantly at wildly different prices, where the price correlates directly to the fanciness of the website you are looking at.

One chair, looks nice, £200, website looks really fancy, free delivery, awful reviews - everyone says it's crap stuff and crap customer service. Reverse google image search and find the same chair on ebay for literally about half the price, also free delivery, being sold by a different company on ebay and with a different brand name.

But even WayFair, who I've bought from a couple of times and who have excellent customer service, reverse image lookup and you find the same chairs / furniture on ebay but for half the price....!

I think the same thing might be true of Cotswold Co. and several other 'premium' "Oak" retailers... where I've seen almost identical pieces of furniture (say a toy box) on many different websites with identical measurements.

Am I missing something - I don't care if it's all made in China or wherever but when one website tries to dress it up and charge double it feels like daylight robbery! I also feel that these websites don't own any stock and probably just order it in from china... omg is this "drop shipping"? have I just discovered drop shipping??? I've heard of it and understand the concept but is this it, first hand?

In reply to elliot.baker:

I don't know about furniture but in the engineering world its quite common for a manufacturer to have say a vacuum pump made in China.

The manufacturer does all of the R&D etc and sells the product at X to take their costs in to account for the R&D plus marketing the new product all a healthy profit margin.

The Chinese factory supply them to their specification but also build and sell them to anyone else who wants them. Normally not the same quality but look the part.

I can buy a direct cope of a £2,000 pump for £40 from China. We have had a few through our shop for repair and they look identical but the internal tolerances are all wrong and cheaper material is used. 

 cathsullivan 17 Aug 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I've often wondered if the same people set up a range of different companies, each with their own website.  Presumably they could then offer the same item on those different websites at different prices. If you see the same thing on another site and its much cheaper it feels like you're getting a bargain so maybe you're more likely to buy.

 elliot.baker 17 Aug 2021
In reply to Dax H:

Yes I think this is what’s hard with buying stuff online sometimes, you don’t know if a £600 chair is exactly the same as the £150 one it looks identical to, and some drop shipper is just trying to get lucky, or if it’s a high quality product that will last a lifetime.

I suppose with that engineering example it looks the part until you start trying to use it and it falls apart!

 gethin_allen 17 Aug 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

You'll probably find that the front company doesn't actually make any of their own stuff and they just buy stock and sell it. The supplier sells to whoever pays. Not necessarily drop shipping. 

As far as baby furniture goes, there's a lot less to go wrong than in Dax's example and I'm guessing they won't be staying a baby for ever and therefore you won't be looking for heirlooms. In which case you're probably ok buying cheap and if you buy it on a credit card or using PayPal and it turns up not as described then you can return it and shouldn't even have to pay postage.

 elliot.baker 17 Aug 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

well I've just bought a chair from eBay for £130 and it's the same pictures as on the Range for £190, another website (full of spelling mistakes) for £180 and WayFair for £590!

We'll see if it falls apart! 😅

In reply to elliot.baker:

Definitely true for bathroom fittings. Spent far too long looking at traditional style shower valves, and there are a few variants which pop up all over the place at hugely different prices.  Very hard to know if there is any difference internally, but I would guess not

In reply to elliot.baker:

I don't think this is a new concept. One of my student jobs 25 or so years ago was packaging up frozen pies in a factory. Identical pies from the same production line went into boxes labelled up as supermarket own brand pies - but the boxes were for at least 3 different supermarkets

 Toby_W 18 Aug 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

Bike shops are similar.  Some frames like ribble, Planet X and at least one of the Derossa frames are what is called open mould.  Companies buy frames from a carbon fibre factory and put their brand on it.  The prices are largely similar though (I think).



In reply to elliot.baker:

> I suppose with that engineering example it looks the part until you start trying to use it and it falls apart!

Not just falls apart, often they don't do what the data plate says. Earlier this year I was asked by a new customer to look at a blower they had bought. It was supposed to move 200 cubic meters of air per hour at 400 mbar of pressure. 

It would only reach 300 mbar of pressure and 50 cube of air. I replaced it with a quality brand and they gave me the old one to play with. 

When we stripped it you could drive a bus through the tolerances so we took a bit off here in the lathe and added a shim there and managed to get it to 150 cube and 380 mbar but the drive motor was running way over power because despite still not hitting what it should the motor couldn't cope with the demand. 

 Duncan Bourne 19 Aug 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

On a related note online shopping can be a bit of a lottery.

I stopped taking note of fancy FB adverts for clothes targeted at me after purchasing some of the flimsiest cheapest shirts it has ever been my misfortune to buy. They looked nothing like the rugged items of clothing shown in the advert.

Recently purchased some artpads which turned out smaller than expected.

and a replacement office cabinet arrived smashed with locked draws and no key following a delivery by Hermes

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