When I'm well invested in a topic, I might research for hours and then buy "the best", but for thing where I just want a "not shitty" option (say, an umbrella maybe?) I like this model. I wish there were more sites like that, where I can trust the opinion/result enough to not have to research for myself.
When I explain non-food/bulk parts, I tell them to imagine if you wanted Amazon-like experience that fit in a single, walk-in warehouse. The only strategy that makes sense is to pick the best or a few of each category of product. They have everything from work shoes to pillows to containers to a diesel generator. People will occasionally want some of that stuff. The already go to Costco. They know its prices are low. So, maybe they just grab some of it while there. And finish saying Costco was doing this before Amazon existed.
On the groceries, they need to carry more smaller portion sizes, though. Walmart and Kroger are price waring so much that Costco costs more on most stuff. Making sizes of stuff like ketchup or spices comparable, but maybe still in little packs, could shift more sales to them. Hammacher already does this where the types of items are same as Walmart and Amazon: just differentiated on vetted quality. Costco can do similar with quality and price, which they already do a bit.
I can vouch for coverage for minor electronics: I was able, without complaint or even a question from Costco, to swap out a Braun electric toothbrush that failed somewhere around year 1. The replacement is going on ~5 years. (The brushes are frigging expensive compared to a manual toothbrush, that's where the money is, give away the battery+motor for free!)
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Consumer Reports. They are run by non-profit consumer advocates, they are very careful about editorial independence (they buy all products at the store rather than accept freebies, there is no advertising in their print publication, etc), and they have labs, scientists, and scientific testing. They have a track record going back to 1936. The only drawback I find is a lack of detail in their reports; they keep it pretty simple.
Sadly, CR has struggled to make the transition to digital / online. thewirecutter.com is now my go to review site for most small ticket items.
I continue to hope that CR adapts. Independent labs remain worthwhile, needed.
When someone feels insecure online. Not sure what they're doing or what they can trust. Then they turn away from the internet.
Very cool business study about delivering perceived value.
Apparently also they were affiliated with Hammacher Schlemmer.
The "barber eliminator" is mentioned in the article. I thought it was interesting, and within my budget and started to consider purchasing it.
But then I thought: What if Amazon has it cheaper? Pro tip: It's 2/3 the price on Amazon. Same exact product. You can even search "barber eliminator" on Amazon and find it under its real name.
So how do they survive? By providing a curated list of products to people too lazy to search for a better price.
I think a more charitable explanation would be Hammacher Schlemmer customers aren't very price sensitive. They aren't going to waste $50 of their time looking for a $20 discount on a hair cutting machine.
With Amazon, the reduction comes from the streamlined buying process - you provide your name, address, billing info, shipping info up front, thereby eliminating the overhead of that task from future purchases. It's also a one-stop shop, you don't have to think if they will have an item you want, as 9 times out of 10 they carry a version of what you are looking for.
With Hammacher Schlemmer, the reduction comes from not having to do really any research about products before purchasing. They offer a limited selection of tested products, so you do not have to consider alternative products, sellers, shipping methods, reviews, and are not susceptible to accidentally ordering a counterfeit product. The catalog format is also approachable, you can pick it up and read it and "window shop" without knowing exactly what you want or need.
So I would say not really laziness, just a shift in cognitive overhead from the product purchasing process to the product research process.
Since they're based off mass-mailing of catalogs, they know their effective target is not a tech-savvy audience. They've run the numbers and they figure this demograph is a sufficient one to market to.