Amazon is the biggest threat to online retailers in, well, ever. But Amazon isn’t perfect. In many ways shopping on Amazon is terrible. Here are some of the things I’ve noted (as a buyer) over the years:
— Amazon product page layout sucks. There is one Amazon formula and no matter what product you’re looking at (off brand $12 baby diapers [link] or a $15,615 bracelet [link]) the experience is the same. In school, I remember reading how in communist Soviet Union schools didn’t have names. They had numbers, like School 12229. This was done so a school with a catchy name wouldn’t stand out. Amazon is a little bit like that. It’s the communist version of capitalism.
— Brand search on Amazon sucks:
— Search results on Amazon are all about lowest prices.
— If you are in research mode Amazon isn’t the best method:
— Some of the products on Amazon are extremely low quality. I purchased and then quickly donated a video studio setup built using items from Amazon. They were totally low quality and packing and sending them back would cost me more in lost productivity than the items themselves. Granted, the price was rock bottom but it also made me want to throw a rock at the sellers.
What Amazon does great is customer service. But, that’s pillar has an Achilles heel too because once the market starts putting the squeeze on Amazon their “we’ll take things back no questions asked” policy will change. I know it.
10 years ago Apple customer service was beyond amazing. At the time Apple market share was big, but not too big. Their growth rate was healthy and so they had the chance to build their team with quality people. Every person I interacted with Apple customer service was a genuine fan of Apple products. They would look forward to challenging service calls because they wanted to find a solution. In the last 4 years, every time I call someone at Apple I have a terrible experience. It’s clear the agent has a quota to fill. Look, I get it. All I’m saying is that Amazon will have the same challenges. Oh, and speaking to crappy customer service, Google has got to be the worst.
Moral of the story? Don’t be intimidated by Amazon or any competitor. When I feel stress it helps to look at this image: