TDEC: A Balcony Garden in an Amazon World

Growing a company is like growing a garden: you have a certain amount of space, you have various conditions that may limit what you can produce in a given amount of time, and you try not to plant more than you can manage, lest your garden should revert to weeds.

Our lovely little balcony garden of a company is thriving! (Photo credit: Lindy Thibodaux)

I firmly believe in every business having its own optimal size. At The Dry Eye Company, we’re happy with our growing-steadily-and-organically model, whereas Amazon (like its namesake exponential-jungle-growth model) appears to be aiming at taking over the retail world. To continue the garden metaphor, we want to offer the most beautiful and valuable plants, in a time when Amazon has trained us to expect a rainforest.

Rainforest jungles are beautiful too (hey, we love the rain in the Northwest), but the growth we aspire to is more about service than size. (Photos & montage: Lindy Thibodaux)

Rebecca (our fearless leader) recently responded to this dilemma with an article posted on our website, for anyone who wants to know just what makes us so different from Amazon. Here’s an excerpt from her article.

October 12, 2017: It was one of *those* days, and customer service had just had another encounter with a customer who seemed to expect things from us that no small business - really, no one but Amazon - can rationally be expected to be able to do. I immediately succumbed to an irrepressible urge to educate the public about certain minor differences between Amazon's business model and small businesses like ours. (To be perfectly clear, I am an Amazon customer, not an Amazon hater. This is a purely educational exercise.)

WE CAN: For a $0 annual fee, provide you with superlative, attentive, caring, personalized service, via phone, email and chat, ten hours a day, five days a week (though truth be told, sometimes we sneak in and answer things on the weekend too).

WE CAN'T: For $100+ annual fee, provide you with free two day shipping on everything from peanuts to elephants plus entertain you day and night with a vast array of media.

WE CAN: Recycle products when you return them, passing them on at low or no cost to patients who are struggling with the cost of their dry eye care or scleral lens products.

WE CAN'T: Refund unwanted products and tell you not to bother sending them back. We can't afford to treat our products like trash (and honestly wouldn't want to if we could).

I CAN: Give you detailed information on preservative free salines, including all about the difference between buffered and unbuffered, advantages and disadvantages of different vial designs and sizes, and suggest what questions to ask your doctor and what change to your regimen might be worth investigating in order to improve those pesky fogging issues you're having with your scleral lenses.

BUT I CAN'T: Sell you a Purilens Plus Saline 12-pack for $33.99 including shipping, because it costs us more than that, and also because the manufacturer's own retail pricing is $39.95 before shipping. Undercutting your own supplier is unneighborly behavior.

Indeed. Think of us the next time you’re out enjoying your own backyard garden!

-- Lindy


(Photo credit: Lindy Thibodaux)

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