And what about student discounts? Is it unfair that students get better deals on Photoshop and Microsoft Office?
I guess my main issue here is the clickbaity title, since I don't think Amazon is making us suckers. The consumer ultimately has the upper hand since they can just choose not to purchase the product, or use a price search engine to find a better deal (which is akin to using a coupon - people that are price-sensitive are more willing to put in effort to save money).
Now we are returning to a world of haggling, but a world in which the cognitive abilities of the haggler can be purchased: more sophisticated algorithms can out-maneuver a human in a business transaction just as they can a chess game. The struggle between buyer and seller resumes without any hope of a truce, and any new businesses trying to sell their product without cognitive advantage can never compete. I mean, I'm definitely letting myself wander into science fiction land here, but this is a pretty big shift and I don't know how it can end (unionized consumers is the tamest way of describing a complete revolution of economics.)
My impression is that anyone in business who is more than a couple of years out of college understands that market prices are a spread around a moving average.
For instance, how do you calculate the cost of selling a given SKU, particularly if bought with other items? Has money been made when you take away the cost of the warehouse, the cost of the shipping to the warehouse, the cost of the actual product, the cost of that 'adword' to get the sales lead, the discount you gave to the customer for their first purchase, the affiliate marketing cut that you have somehow incurred along the way, the cost of the transaction with the payment provider and whatever else? Note this excludes other 'costs' like the marketing spend and partnership programmes with other companies.
Add to the mix currency fluctuations and limitations of the accounting system you have to work with (e.g. unable to do fractions of pennies/cents) then factor in that the people running the show are managers, therefore of no technical competence, and there is no way whatsoever that costs for selling a given product to a given customer at a given point in time can be known.
Then add returns to the confusion. It becomes even harder to actually know costs on that fine-grained SKU level.
Plus sometimes you cannot sell less than what you are allowed to sell at. Your supplier will not like you if you sell at less than cost and will not supply you if you upset all the other retailers of the product. So the price is essentially set, discountable when the next model range comes out but not before.
If you have to sell at 'list price' then how do you compete? Do you pay £70 to people for those people to buy your £25 products at list price? Yes, this craziness happens when you have people of the non-technical marketing type decide to 'invest' in 'marketing'. These same people will send out ever fancier boxes and other packaging junk never thinking about the costs.
A company has to be of a certain size before it can have the people able to do the maths properly, to get professional about it. Otherwise costs are not realistic for the online operation and profit is not what it should be. This article tars ecommerce with the same brush, a large amount of it is utterly clueless and far from smart.
It's worth being aware of price discrimination, but in the end, the only "suckers" are those who don't use price search engines.
is adequate for most items.
The problem I see it is being singled out. The more singled out you are and more you stick out specifically, the worse.
Paying more for something is one thing (and it does not mean that you have more resources but simply less advantage to bargain) but not seeing products/services that do not "fit" your profile is ever worse.
As I have an associate who ships internationally thru an online store portal, I am aware of how a typical $1 - $2 per order overage on shipping costs can add up in bottom-line revenues year-over-year. Even so since I do not buy enough to justify paying for the Amazon free shipping service, their prices are generally a good buy.
An exception everywhere now in my experience is clothing made in China by Chinese designers that has yet to reach the quality standards I will pay full price for in women's apparel. The problem I have read in Comments and have experienced is the difference in size between American and Chinese or Asian women.
That's where for me Ross for Less, Marshal's etc. come into the picture. Sometimes I buy quality through trusted online sellers (J.W. Crew, Land's End, Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean, etc.). But even then the quality of workmanship and fabric can be wildly varied despite the price of the item.
The global economy does have its challenges. The current state of the consumer economy has forced me, therefore, to buy less, and to make what I have last longer through care and cautious use, as well as periodic maintenance where appropriate.
Of course I pay extra for good support and free shipping too. Stuff over 30eur I only buy in shops I trust. For something like a laptop I'd only buy from 3 sites or do extensive research on how good the support is.