Title: "How Amazon Consumed All of Commerce".

Have you tried that "commerce" lately? Like, tried to buy anything, apart from groceries, either online or in store? If yes, you wouldn't be asking this question. As much as I dislike their founder and hate their treatment of the personnel, Amazon, to put it bluntly, *works*. Choosing, buying, delivering and returning. All just works. That's the simple differentiating factor.


@isagalaev Does it, though?

The Amazon marketplace is overrun with counterfeit products. They sell a zillion products now, but all through an interface that was designed in 1994 for selling books and has not changed appreciably since. They make it difficult to consistently deal with a single third party vendor, which simplifies fulfillment for them but makes every transaction a crapshoot. Inventory commingling means you can order a new product and get a used/returned one that's just been re-shrinkwrapped. If you're not subscribed to Prime, shipping will mysteriously take forever, with days or even weeks passing before your order even leaves the warehouse.

Shopping with Amazon USED to be a great experience, but that was always just a way to build market share. Once they took the top spot in the retail world they shifted from great service as the priority to cutting corners to increase margins on every transaction, figuring that sheer inertia would keep people shopping there regardless. And that seems to be true.

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@jalefkowit that's all fair too! Still, on average it's better than other sellers and vendors. And yes, being subscribed to Prime is a big factor in having your experience smooth, I keep forgetting about it.

@jalefkowit @isagalaev While I do think inertia is a factor, I would ask this: If amazon's interface is that bad, who with that wide of a selection is better? Certainly not Wal-Mart.

I think regardless of how we feel about today's amazon, I don't see anyone offering a better value proposition either in interface or in one-stop-shopping.

@gedvondur @jalefkowit @isagalaev
I would love it if some vender-owned co-op existed with an interface twice as shitty as Amazon and a service half as good.

I would use them.

But they don't exist.

All there actually is, is shops made of bricks that you have to walk around like a cave-man, and a million cowboys with Stripe accounts that you don't know if you can trust.

Amazon is amazing.

I wish they'd pay more tax and treat their workers better but they do the actual legal minimum so I figure really that's the legal minimum's fault.

The fact they bribed the tax-man and the legislators is however an issue.

@pre @jalefkowit @isagalaev

Amazon has a lot of issues that a company of that income shouldn't have. Particularly around labor compensation, conditions, and overall needs to stop being a bunch of pricks and pay their taxes.

Someone would have to really find a substantial competitive advantage to compete.

But there is a smaller opportunity:

Amazon haters will sign up if its even or a little better. Heck the advantage could even be "not Amazon". But nobody has really stepped up.

@gedvondur @pre @isagalaev I’m not even sure that’s necessary. Lots of suppliers have figured out how to sell things directly now.

I needed a couple pairs of jeans the other day. Rather than go to a retailer, I went to Levi’s website and bought them directly there. It didn’t cost any more than buying at retail would have, the jeans shipped fast and arrived without any problems. And presumably Levi’s made a little more on the transaction, since they didn’t have to split it with a retailer.

I don’t think that by itself is ever going to kill Amazon. I just raise it to say that it’s not as hard shop online without shopping at Amazon as it used to be. Knowing how to sell stuff online is not the rare skill set it was 10 or 15 years ago.

@jalefkowit @gedvondur @isagalaev
There are many items I go to the manufacturer for: Phones, Games, Game-Consoles.

Anything over a couple of hundred quid I'd likely check the manufacturer first.

Hopefully it'll end up that way for most things?

But I dunno if I want my eggs and milk delivered at separate times by different companies.

@pre @jalefkowit @gedvondur the price of the product is the main difference, really. Individual shipping of small cheap items is not going to be economically feasible, you need to sell them in bulk to a retailer that can spread out the cost over multiple several items.

@isagalaev @pre @gedvondur Economy of scale is absolutely a thing, but it's not the ONLY thing. And scale can create externalities that result in the price being higher than it would be otherwise. (If there's only one retailer for everything, they can charge whatever they want.)

@pre @gedvondur @isagalaev I stopped shopping at Amazon a few years ago. I don’t find the experience of shopping elsewhere to be appreciably worse. I lose some time not having everything I buy in one place, but then I gain some back by not having to wade through ten thousand dropshipped fakes every time I go to buy something, so for me at least it’s a wash.

All I can say about Amazon’s quality of service is, try it sometime without a Prime subscription. I did that and found the experience went from “very good” to “shockingly poor” overnight. Orders would literally sit in their warehouse for weeks, waiting for someone to ship them out. Prime is a tax you pay to have Amazon behave the way every other retailer behaves for free. And once they’ve got you into the routine of buying everything from them, who’s to say it will be the last tax? The more you rely on them the more they can tax you, because they know it’ll be harder for you to break away.

I hit my breaking point with this stuff a while back, but everybody’s will be different.

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