Not the Whole Reason

So, not the only reason Amazon is conquering the world, but a big part of it is that they make it easy to order.

A couple of counter-examples.

I recently placed an order with Retailer A (name concealed because it’s irrelevant). There were four items in my order, three of Item 1 and one Item 2. Here’s what I had to do after I added the items to my cart:

  1. Click the cart.
  2. Click to confirm the items were correct. All items were set to in-store pickup.
  3. Click again to switch Item 2 from in-store pickup to shipping.
  4. One of the Item 1 had changed from In-Store to “How do want to get this item?” It took three clicks to set it back to In-Store. And doing that changed Item 2 from shipping back to in-store, one more click to reset it.
  5. Click to confirm the order.
  6. The confirmation page reloaded with a message informing me that some of the delivery dates had changed. Click yet again to confirm the order with the changed dates.
  7. Click to confirm my payment information.
  8. Click again because one of the Item 1 had changed delivery dates back to the original date.
  9. Which, naturally meant I had to reconfirm my payment information.
  10. One final (amazingly!) click to confirm my address for the item being shipped.

Later the same day, I placed an order from Retailer B. Because I’ve shopped with this retailer before, I know I need to buy $35 worth of merchandise to get free shipping. No problem: I need a bunch of the same small item, so I’ll get enough of them to total $35. I go to the product page. There’s no ability to put more than one in the cart, so I add one.

  1. Click the cart.
  2. Change the order quantity to ten.
  3. Realized the price had dropped since I last bought this thing, and ten of them was still a bit under $35.
  4. Tried to change to a dozen. Discovered the system wouldn’t let me order more than ten. This was not documented anywhere.
  5. Returned to the product page and tried to add it to the cart again. Only at that point did I get a pop-up informing me I already had the maximum number of the item per order in my cart.
  6. Gave up, ordered one of something I didn’t need but can use because it was still cheaper to get that with free shipping than to pay for shipping.
  7. One click to confirm my address.
  8. Another click to confirm my payment information.

To be clear, these are not little Mom and Pop outfits; they’re both chains with national footprints and extensive experience in online sales.

Now, let’s contrast the experience with shopping on Amazon.

If there’s an item limit, Amazon tells you so on the product page right below the price.

The delivery date never changes during checkout. If there’s a change–to an earlier or later date–they tell you after the order has been placed and give you an opportunity to change or cancel the order.

Different items can have different shipping options and changing one never affects the others.

So even if you leave the one-click order process out of the discussion, it always goes like this:

  1. Click the cart.
  2. Click to confirm the address.
  3. Click to confirm the payment info.
  4. Click to confirm the shipping info.

Why would anybody shop anywhere but Amazon? In my case, the only reason I used Retailers A and B was because they had merchandise I wanted that Amazon didn’t. If I’d been able to get it from Amazon, I’d probably have given up at Step 5 in both cases. Given the way Amazon aggressively expands, “we have something they don’t” is never more than a temporary advantage.

And, really, who needs the hassle?

Nobody is going to compete with Amazon on price. You need to bring something to the party that Amazon doesn’t.

Something that customers want.

Nobody wants to be annoyed.

6 thoughts on “Not the Whole Reason

  1. This, this, this. I hate what Amazon is doing to its workers and to small local retailers, but I do not understand how other online retailers think they can compete by making shopping into an obstacle course. My least favorite is the online calendar retailer I patronize because of a terrific selection that’s easy to search, but God forbid you should get up to pee or take an important phone call, because if you have not checked out within MINUTES of adding items to your cart, that cart will get DUMPED. I have literally chased down items I had already put in the cart three times before completing an order in whatever they consider an acceptable time frame. It’s like being in high school with a time limit to take a test.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sledpress: I know which calendar retailer you’re referring to; I’ve had the same experience with them.

      There are mixed felines about Bookshop. Personally, I don’t currently see a downside for independents to sign up with them–but if they start attracting enough business to affect Amazon’s bottom line, I’d be willing to be that Amazon will force indies to choose between Bookshop and AbeBooks (which Amazon owns and many independents currently use, especially for their used book inventories).

      If you have a local independent bookstore, try them first: they typically make more money off a direct sale than they do through Bookshop. Worth doing curbside pickup if they haven’t reopened to in-store customers yet.

      Do I still shop at Amazon? Not for books, no. Everything else? Yep. Feel guilty about it? Sometimes. Doesn’t stop me from flinging money at Jeff when–as John says–I need something tomorrow.

      Realistically, much of Amazon’s success has come from their unrelenting focus on making everything easy for the customer, even at the expense of their employees’ health and sanity. Compare the ease of doing a product return or requesting a refund from Amazon versus damn near any of their competitors. Everyone else seems to be stuck in a “how can we replicate our in-store experience online” mentality. Which misses the point of having an online presence in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree with both your take and the previous commenter. I try to avoid Amazon at all costs, sometimes literally, and shop in the meat world. I once ordered something to be shipped to a Dollar Store near me. When I got the email that it had arrived, it took the staff about a half-hour to locate it. Sigh.

    Books, though–if it’s not at the public library, I hit I have a feline that you know about them, Casey. Easy–you set up an account, they have all the shipping and payment info, and part of your payment goes to indie bookstores.


  3. I try, I really try to do my online shopping elsewhere- especially for books, because when Jeff Bezos’ people come to put me in chains, after he has become Master of the Universe, I don’t want to say, “Oh, if only I had resisted the temptation to give him my money”.
    BUT, as you’ve pointed out, he has built a better mousetrap, so to speak, and after I’ve wandered through the confusing, inconvenient sites of his competitors, all of which seem to have been designed, specifically, to piss me off, I give up and give in.
    Do I feel guilty, giving another fifty bucks to the richest man in the world? Sure, but the fact that I can, easily, order something today, and have it show up on my doorstep tomorrow, goes a long way toward soothing that guilt. The man may be an evil genius, but a genius he is- and I’m not. He wins.

    Liked by 1 person

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