Pat Drummond :: life & technology

May 31, 2017

Amazon has it figured out

I've been buying online for many years and I wish I had written a how-to book on e-commerce mistakes to avoid. That ship has sailed.  Amazon is a case study in how to do it right. Proof?  I find myself comparing sources and often find myself buying from (I live in Canada, which requires extra care online).  Here's a few reasons why Amazon gets my business so often. 

First, they have grown so much, they have a separate website for Canada, which means you don't have to convert prices. (Neer buy from stores that do not even mention which $ they use.)

2.  Amazon almost always has the item I am looking for - even items that have been disappeared from brick & mortar stores.  Best of all, they have lots of choice - even used items (I once bought a used book for $.01.) They list the item with the lowest price and shipping, with links to other items, which saves a lot of time. 

3.  They have the shipping problem figured out. One of my first online purchases was 4 stainless steel wine glasses. I contacted the only Canadian business that sold them using their web form, but they didn't even answer!  I  ordered from a U.S. website. By the time the box arrived at the door with unexpected customs fees, the delivery cost more than the glasses!  Fortunately things have improved since then. Amazon will indicate right at the top if they cannot ship to your address (if you are logged in). The shipping cost is often shown under the price, and sometimes the city it is shipped from.  Too many e-stores still make you create an account and proceed to payment before you can find out the shipping cost - what a waste of time. Last time I bothered to do that, the shipping for a very small item was $42 - Amazon charged $5 for the same thing.

4.  Customer reviews are invaluable - if you can filter out the obvious paid comments.  Just read the 1-star comments first. To go along with reviews, check the list of items customers "also viewed" or bought for useful accessories. Adding them now, rather than later, can pop your total over "free shipping" minimums - which are lower than most other e-stores. And many items offer free shipping. Small items usually arrive by postal mail.

👉I have one beef with - it's often impossible to know if the item will be shipped from Canada or another country. If the business does not want you to know where it is located, too bad. Although, if shipping is going to take 4 weeks, you can pretty well guess it's coming from China. Since there is no duty added to the cost, I assume it's a regulation loophole.

[I do not work for Amazon and am not being paid to write this. -Pat]