I recently had to wonder what kind of consumer I was.
I ordered a 3.99 euros Arduino’s clone spare board from a well known electronic commerce giant.
If I had to buy the components only to later assemble myself, I would have spent aroun 15 euros from the cheaper retailer (to replicate the same finished product you should add other 4 euros as material and a 3 hours work for design, soldering and testing).
The ecommerce giant I bought from made 4.3 billion euros in Italy last year and paid around 11 million in tax. This means around 0,003% of taxes. The small shop in the city centre in Italy can pay up to 76% in taxes.
This means that paying 15 euros there would have generated a potential return on community (assuming retailer being honest) as taxes higher than the total I paid to the ecommerce giant.
So what kind of customer am I? Well first it seems I am a customer who just focuses on price, who cares little or nothing on the big picture (including the rest of the world paying the hidden cost of cheap production, transport pollution, workers conditions etc…)
Out of sight, out of mind.
But I am now looking at the cheap board, here in my hands.
I start reminding of when I was younger; people discussing about “the fact we should be “willing to pay more in order to be granted the item we buy is being produced in an ethical manner”. We should add today: and sold in non distorted business tax practices.
They were the so called “equal and fair trade (and labour) market”.
These guys are still around…at least I guess so.
Today there are new ideas: the so called “collaborative (and open) economy business model”.
These guys put “sharing” (assets, services, materials etc…) as a key for increasing the value not just of the good itself but of “individuals as a community”. (I am very interested in what these communities propose when they interact and I have the privilege of being connected with a great guy deeply involved in it).
Yet the question remains: what kind of customer am I? Am I insensitive to business model changes? Given that I did not want to pay more, do I care today to whom I pay? Do I care in being involved?
Can “purchasing” become the most important axe of improvement for human being?
Becoming a good customer can be as honorable as being consistent, adaptable, conscientius, emphatetic and farsighted?