It would be nice if Amazon could make the comparison easier for us. But in this case most of the problem is that it's simply exposing the underlying wholesale/distributor model directly to the consumer.
They also white-label almost everything so that it's hard to go directly to their suppliers.
I'm guessing that that level of curation comes at a high cost to add new SKUs to the catalog; they go as far as to commission artwork and provide CAD models. It would be really hard for Amazon to approach that while striving for minimal margins and letting 3rd parties add SKUs in huge quantities.
On the other hand, many b2b markets have that, because the buyers there demand it, and usually only buy a product with a spec.
Maybe there's some solution to that problem. But i do wonder, if it exists, would consumers use it to purchase stuff?
You got a lot of sellers coming over from sites like eBay, where your listing is your listing. You upload an item to sell, it gets a page all to itself, and you can do whatever you want with the listing quality. Then they migrate over to Amazon because reasons, and can't cope with the fact that items for sale are grouped together with everyone selling that item. This leads to tons of shenanigans like people making up their own UPCs to get their own listings, using the wrong UPCs to get onto more popular listings, and all manner of trickery.
Occasionally you could catch a case with one of these malfested ASINs, and work with the catalog to unwind the broken mess. Unfortunately, more often than not, that wasn't your job to do that. Further, doing that would take a long time, which would destroy your average case resolve time. Better quality of the catalog was not job number one, only metrics, always metrics, ever increasing and eventually impossible to satisfy metrics. As far as I could tell, quality control wasn't anyone's job, and thus it led to the Amazon catalog you have today. It's almost as if Amazon has decided that bad quality listings will lead to low sales, and the problem will eventually sort itself out, but as we can see that has not happened.
For myself, before and after the job, I always look for Shipped and Sold by Amazon. Otherwise, you literally never know what you're going to get, and it's on you as the buyer if you want to take the gamble or wade into the waters of the A to Z return guarantee. But that's a whole other mess for another thread.
And yeah, I think the "fulfilled by Amazon" filtering is the key to simplify things. It won't always be the best deal (and isn't in this case) but there is a real sense of "risk" with other options - something that I don't think can be solved by the third party store pages and seller feedback.
This is actually different from products shipped and sold by Amazon since Amazon now stores and ships products on behalf of its third party sellers as part of its fulfillment program in order to increase the number of products available under Prime.
So it's possible to receive a product stored and shipped by Amazon at their own facilities, but sold by a third party seller. The user to whom you replied searches specially for products sold by Amazon itself. Amazon is the seller in this case.
I appreciate they've used some kind of system to identify products and group the various options from different sellers into one listing. But I've never seen an example where this has worked well. The sizes, styles, colours and so on that are displayed are always completely mad. Like, enough to the point where I frequently abandon my attempt and just buy from somewhere with more sensible categorisation.
Really awful user experience there, unless you have simply expressible needs or are satisfied with the first page or two of results.
When the Nintendo Switch and Zelda had just launched, Amazon had no stock of either but third party sellers conveniently had loads at below RRP. Call me a cynic (I didn't test the claim) but I'm doubtful I wouldn't get a S-S-S-Switch instead of the genuine article.
I will probably just give up on this and either buy whatever color I want or go in-person to a baby shop to buy them.
There is undoubtedly money to be made here (one way or another - see last reference): the supermarket chain ALDI has invested in a strategy where they provide limited choices of goods (e.g., spaghetti sauces, breads, etc.) thus reducing buyers' anxiety, store size and increasing profits. It seems to be working:
"Why I choose to have less choice":
"Why C[onvenience]-stores Should Consider the Aldi Approach":
Finally, there's a debate as to whether the paradox of choice is real or not:
"Is the Paradox of Choice Not So Paradoxical After All?"
The difference between these is the price of a single product, there is no paradox here, the user just needs to take over an hour + programming to even get the information out of Amazon.
This is frustrating to me at times, after being used to the stores in the states. Overall, however, it makes grocery shopping quick. And as a bonus, I can generally stop by a store on my way home from anywhere or take a short walk from home.
It strikes me that I have recently done this in another area as well - grocery shopping. We used to go to the largest, cheapest grocery store, less than a mile from our house. But now we much prefer a smaller, more expensive place a few miles away. A bigger part of this decision is local/organic options and pricing, but I did recently think about exactly this (the incredible amount of choice and associated anxiety) when I had occasion to get a few things at the big store again.
I think the paradox of choice is an issue when you initially don't have prior information on something, but once you know what you prefer, there is no paradox as one is pretty much settled with one's choice.
The majority of the options appear somewhere around $1-$2 per oz and it appears a typical bottle is around 10oz, so the difference here in the pricing is somewhere around $10. Worrying about this problem for more than about 10 minutes loses all the money you'd "save" by ensuring you're on the cheap end of that spread.
I even found reviews for _counterfeit diapers_ on top of this problem of 10000 types of packaging for the same diaper and so now I just buy all my diapers and my prenatal vitamins from Costco.
Reviews from all of these are merged, as are the Questions & Answers.
For a current example, https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0056OUTBK/ref=oh_aui_de... combines listings for computer cases in a variety of tower and rackmount sizes, server racks, drawers, and rails. Separate items all available as options on this page.
For reviews, Amazon now labels them with the "style", i.e. one review is for the "Server Rails" style, while another is for the "Server Case" style (though there are a half dozen different "Server Case" style items on the page, each with different characteristics). Questions & Answers are just a free-for-all that requires humans to sift through context and figure out which product is actually being discussed.
One of the questions on the linked product page, ironically asks, "Do I need rails to mount this in a rack?" It's a complicated question to answer because the question could have been posed about one of the many 2U or 4U cases ("yes", unless maybe one of them ships with rails) or it could have been asked about a tower case ("no, this isn't rack-mountable"), or it could have been asked about the rails or the rack themselves (as humans, we screen these possibilities out by context and logic), or about the shelves offered (not a completely unreasonable question -- maybe a shelf could be sold without rails?).
Or if we're not so observant, we click Buy after reading Q&A and reviews, only to later learn that we bought a different "style."
These types of search yield generic cruft, and despite all the options, none of them seem to have any meaningful impact in the search.
The only other notable thing winding me up is ebay "not collection only".
If it helps, my strategy is usually to do five minutes of research through Google first and then just get the item from Amazon. The only things I discover through Amazon's search function are things that are more or less commodities, in which case I buy the cheapest that fits my constraints for whom reviews aren't horrible. I buy and have bought a LOT of stuff on Amazon and I've never experienced the choice paralysis or search issues everyone is talking about here.
Someone on HN at some point made a web site that used to list the cheapest items in some common categories by unit price. It was called papersomethingorother, but I un-bookmarked it because it went down awhile back.
And it gets even worse when you find the typical retailer game where you list unit price for the same product in two different units (price per ounce for one size, and per gallon for another) so now have fun doing unit conversions too.
It's all just a complete mess.
I can go to any of about four supermarkets between home and work, or two personal care stores, to buy toothbrushes, toothpaste, conditioner etc. The shops have chosen between three and ten or so lines from several manufacturers, depending which one I chose, and all the products are legitimate and meet the required quality and safety regulations. Searching online seems much harder than looking on a shelf and picking one.
(You may have fewer shops close by, but presumably there's at least one shop selling these goods.)
You can purchase products in larger sizes for lower $/[unit] and in many circumstances set them to be automatically purchased and shipped on a periodic basis for even greater savings all from the comfort of your couch.
You can additionally get 5% back on top of all of this if you use an Amazon Prime credit card and pay it off monthly.
The savings add up over time and it also results in a cart that is considerably less full during the weekly grocery shopping trip. Paper towels eat up a great amount of the volume in a standard US grocery store shopping cart.
The easiest way to avoid the pain many users experience is to exclusively purchase products shipped and sold by Amazon and to make use of third party sellers only when necessary.
- Of the 37 sizes, only three are available for subscription.
- Even the 5% subscription discount is not the best deal.
- The lower $/unit on larger quantities does not consistently hold true.
I was unaware of the additional 5% back on the Amazon Prime card, but I'm not sure that should really factor in here. My AmEx, for example, gives 6% cash back at grocery stores and I'm sure other cards have comparable offers. Also, Amazon Prime, like my AmEx card, has a yearly fee that will eat away at some of those additional savings.
If we accept that the amount of choice Amazon.com provides is a good thing (and I think it is), does the subscription model not defeat that advantage? I think it does, at least to some degree. Since the 15% discount subscription price is the best deal (on Amazon.com), why even have the other 36 "sizes"?
What you suggest as the "easiest way to avoid pain" is precisely what I fear - that Amazon.com may eventually become "shopping".
Maybe Amazon has just given up on UI and assumes that everyone will be buying via Alexa?
Would you rather have them show just a single option, which may or may not work for you? Or give you the choice of one that works for /you/ the best?
But is there any good alternative? I buy from Target.com whenever an order includes food or health products, because I actually have some confidence in their supply chain. But of course their shipping efficiency is years behind Amazon's.
They don't have a million different options like Amazon does, but Costco is an excellent option. They have an amazing customer service with a very generous return policy, high quality products, great value proposition. Plus they have B&M stores, for when you want to actually try things before purchasing, etc.
Do you have an example of this for a product shipped and sold by Amazon rather than one stored and shipped on behalf of a third party seller as part of Amazon's fulfillment program?
If I want to buy some shoes, I have to check every combination of my size and the colors to find what I am looking for. Sometimes there are multiple names for the same color, too, e.g. "gray" and "charcoal."
I think the bottom line that Amazon is letting sellers enter whatever values they want. They should make sellers choose things like shoe sizes from a dropdown that has a standardized list.
Amazons search only work on titles, nothing else. At least that's what they tell you when using the reseller API. That's it why title on Amazon sucks and why you can't find anything specific, yet are able to find EVERYTHING. Amazon have perhaps 200.000 different HDMI cables, produced by far fewer manufactures, it's just the branding that's different. Amazon doesn't have to care though, it doesn't matter which cable you by, they get paid anyway.
If Amazon had chosen to deal with having good, high quality product data, it would have taken them many more years, and much more resources to get where they are. More importantly: They would have made it much harder for resellers to push their products feeds to Amazon, and they would have pick eBay as their main platform instead.
tldr; Amazon have shitty product data and it doesn't matter, because shopping on Amazons platform is a lot easier than trying to find the same product elsewhere.
Due to Amazon's "just throw it all in the same pile!" method of combining their and re-sellers stock.
On the other hand once you have figured out what to buy once, it is trivial on Amazon to buy that again when you need more.
Consider toothpaste. I use Crest, purchased at my local Walmart. They seem to stock a bazillion different kinds of Crest, emphasizing various combinations of promoting/preventing/improving/accommodating one or more of:
• fresh breath
• surface stains
• acid erosion
I care about cavities, gingivitis, plaque, tartar, and acid erosion. I am indifferent to the rest, except for whitening. From what I've read there are at least two different ways a toothpaste can promote whitening, one of which is arguably bad for you (weakens enamel or something like that) and one of which is neutral, and so I prefer to avoid whitening products unless I'm sure they use a definitely non-bad method.
The last several times I've bought toothpaste at Walmart I checked my current tube before heading to the store and attempted to buy one that matches it, and have failed. I have no idea if I failed because Crest reshuffled the combinations or I botched the matching, but whatever the reason I end up spending 15 or 20 minutes in the toothpaste aisle trying to make a choice every damned time.
The last couple of times I've checked prices toothpaste was actually cheaper locally than via Amazon, but I'm probably going to switch to Amazon anyway just to be able to use the "buy it again" feature.
Generally I've found that Amazon is rarely cheapest option, but I can understand paying the convenience.
In addition to my particular type of lotion, I only buy a particular type of toothpaste (because most toothpaste has SLS and that gives me canker sores). Basically my approach is to find the cheapest possible price and buy it in bulk. I have done that a few times over the past couple of years (I currently have 10 tubes, hah) and, I think, always with different retailers. That tends to work well for me, and I don't think Amazon.com's additional features are worth the extra cost, in that case.
Something like https://anom.az
I went to buy K&R C from amazon and it costed 150€. That was too much for me, but there was a different version below it: a "used" K&R from a different publisher and different cover, that costed 30€.
The book arrived and it's just photocopies of the original, in the form of a book. Normal Photocopies on what seems to be a just a bit finer than the average photocopy paper.
I've read the book. I still don't know why the original is so expensive, and if the authors/rightholders received any of my 30€.
BTW, regarding one of your dead posts, "You are posting too fast, please slow down" means that your post rate has been silently and permanently limited. HN is very cagey about its post quality/spam control measures, to the point of not actually telling people that they're being disciplined.
> I agree with what people have already said, but I think there's one more point to add: people usually over-estimate how funny their own comments are. We have a tendency to think, "This idea of mine is hilarious! And different! Surely this witticism is the exception." And we are usually wrong. When you have N people all doing that, there's a lot of noise.
> I try to gently point this out to people who complain when their attempt at humor has been downvoted by the community. It's not that we don't like humor. We just don't like banal attempts at humor, which becomes noise. Or, put in a less charitable fashion, "You're not as funny as you think you are."