For me, it’s the growing dawn of a new realization. It’s not really anything revelatory; it’s a topic that has been bantered around for years. Essentially, the thought is, Amazon is getting too big and too powerful, much like Walmart was before.
It sure is easy to be addicted to quick shipping, which is what Amazon is very good at. I was disappointed by an online order from Lowes that took a week to arrive, and an item I ordered on Ebay just the other day is going to take a week to arrive (shipped from Canada, so, ok…). Some other things, I’ve ordered recently have also taken time to arrive, like a new kitchen sink, or lights, or CDs.
But notice something, all of these items were not purchased from Amazon. That realization is somewhat important to me. Amazon is not the one-stop, end-all, be-all shopping destination for me. And, with recent news like this, I feel I should wean myself from Amazon’s grasp further.
It’s not all bad. There’s a lot of things that don’t need to be received in a couple of days (and there are some that do). There are times I’ll use Amazon’s no-rush shipping option, and never claim the little reward they offer for doing so. Price-wise, other places can be competitive and sometimes even much better. Home Depot beat out Amazon by almost 50% on one item I needed. When it comes to selection, not even Amazon can match a specialized online store, especially when it comes to furniture and other home goods. And in a lot of those cases, Amazon’s selection is only much broader because they have a massive selection of cheap import products. If that’s ok with you, EBay can be just as fruitful.
I’ll admit, sometimes, I find what I’m looking for on another site and will check it against Amazon. If Amazon is close in price, I’ll usually order it from Amazon. This is solely because I don’t want to have to go through the hassle of creating a new account on a new site. But, with my planned dependency-reduction, I may begin doing so to spread the wealth a bit further. For some people, this might not be as feasible, because if you are reusing your email address on many sites, you are increasing your risk of having your email harvested for spam. Since I use a different email address for every site, I don’t have this worry.
This reliance on Amazon for a lot of things is sort of a downward spiral. As we buy more stuff online, stores make fewer items available to purchase in-store, which forces us to buy more online. I wish there was a way we could reverse it. Some places have an in-stock check, like Lowes, Home Depot, and Staples for example. So you can check to see if an item is there before driving to the store. And if it’s not in stock, well, would you order it from there to be shipped or held for pickup, or would you just return to Amazon to buy it? I know I’m going to have to be more proactive in that choice.
Why can’t someone with more business connections than I have make a website that tracks who sells what. This should be easy as hell. Any store that has an electronic point of sale system must have a list of products they sell, and that list of products would contain a UPC. It should be trivial to upload a list of UPCs to a website to indicate what products your store sells. The website allows someone to search by product and a list of who sells that product is displayed. It could work the other way too, where manufacturers upload a list of UPCs and the retailers they distribute to. The data is there, it just needs aggregated.