Amazon has turned into a warehouse, you have to know what you want coming in. The only reason I kept using them was because I was lazy and didn't want to have to manage purchases across multiple different websites. But it just isn't worth it when I kept consistently getting inferior products.
Now the expectations on quality have gone down to "OK if this works great, but do I really have the time to print the return label, package it again and ship it back?" Basically my level of trust in stuff sold on Amazon is much lower than what it used to be a few years back. For. e.g. 10 yrs. back - Plasma TV on Amazon? No problem. Now its Costco all the way for expensive electronics stuff.
On one level, Amazon is just fleecing the sellers on their platform - all sorts of charges for combinations of ad words. A lot of sellers have figured out how to game the system. It's just an awful mess. I have been considering cancelling my prime membership for a couple of years now... inertia keeps me from doing it. I've tried Ali express as well. It was an OK experience. Now I'm browsing Etsy. Haven't really bought anything, but it's looking more attractive for household stuff.
In summary, like theossuary, I believe figuring out your niche stores will be beneficial. Watch out for those Asics warehouse sales for workout clothes and shoes etc.
Ali Express is overrun with sellers with identical listings, but the quality may vary greatly between them. You will only know when you receive the item. It's not uncommon to receive something that looks totally different than the listing images.
Shipping something back on Ali Express is basically a total no-go. They get killer discounts on shipping to the US. Shipping something back to China is probably going to be more expensive than the product. With Amazon it is cheap or free to return things.
Sorting by price on Ali Express is totally broken, because sellers can list a variation with the lowest price that is never available. This impossible-to-get lowest price is taken into consideration by the sort.
People complain that sometimes Prime is 3 or 4 day shipping instead of actually 2 days. Ali Express is 2 weeks minimum. Probably 50% of the things I've ordered have taken 1+ month. Some things take 2 months. Some things never arrive at all.
All that said, I still use Ali Express. It's great for small, cheap and generic items. I know what I'm getting into, and I accept the risks. There is no way it could replace Amazon.
If you knew nothing about Amazon and only learned about it from HN comments you would think it was basically the Mos Eisley Cantina. The real eCommerce Mos Eisley Cantina is Ali Express.
Shopping on Amazon is still cheap and convenient. Maybe not if you consistently buy things that are exorbitant to ship like ping pong tables or 6 foot ladders, but most people buy items that could fit in a shoe box.
I see comments complaining about this and similar all the time on Amazon, and on products with very high ratings. The strategy seems to be, sell good quality cheap stuff for a while to get a good rating, the change the listing completely to a low-quality expensive product. The high ratings stick around, resulting in more sales than it otherwise would have, and more resilience to new low ratings.
They have a huge warehouse infrastructure in my city. They could drop a box in the mail at their warehouse and have it to me in a day or two. They could probably strap it to a stray dog, point it in my direction, and get it here in three.
Yet, somehow, if I collect up a $25 order of in stock items, they can't get it to my door in less than about two weeks, unless I pay a premium for upgraded shipping. This makes it useless for time-sensitive orders.
Now, I know there's QoS and framing as a marketing thing, but this just comes off as a tease.
My returns with AliExpress have all been full refunds without having to reship the items back to the supplier.
One of my refunds was for a $100+ item, as well.
> Ali Express is 2 weeks minimum.
I've received items in a week or less.
> Shopping on Amazon is still cheap and convenient.
As of late, this hasn't been true. AliExpress, Walmart and even Best Buy have had better deals than Amazon.
I don't know where you live, but I don't think receiving an item from Ali Express in 1 week or less is normal, unless maybe you live in mainland China. I'm in the US and I really think I've never received something quicker than 2 weeks.
You said you have received things in a week or less. What do you think the average is though?
I just don't believe that Amazon does not generally provide cheap products conveniently. There are outliers, as with everything, but I think it's the norm that the prices for the majority of products are competitive, and the user experience is convenient.
Shipping options and delivery estimates are displayed in both search results and each item's page.
A good percentage of items do have delivery estimates that exceed two weeks, however either faster paid shipping options are available or other suppliers will offer the same item with a shorter delivery estimate.
You can also sort by the country an item ships from. There are increasingly more distributors in North America than there were a couple of years ago.
> I just don't believe that Amazon does not generally provide cheap products conveniently. There are outliers, as with everything, but I think it's the norm that the prices for the majority of products are competitive, and the user experience is convenient.
That hasn't been my experience, unfortunately. I used to use Amazon for the majority of my online purchases because they consistently had lower prices. Eventually, they became my supplier even for goods I'd buy in person.
However, as of last month, Walmart will ship the last item I regularly bought in bulk from Amazon at a lower individual retail price.
Example of Raspberry Pi 3 Camera, product price $4.52, shipping to the US:
Shipping prices (no free option)
$0.34 - 20-39 days
$2.84 - 19-39 days
$38.16 - 12-21 days
$40.53 - 8-16 days
$46.03 - 6-13 days
Which one of those would you pay for?
I said Ali Express was OK. As in "meh" worth a look. True, stuff arrives a month to two months later. I bought the exact compression socks advertised on Amazon from Ali Express - Amazon price: $16 each. Ali Express: $3.75 each including shipping. Ali Express is catching up.
A lot of products on Amazon are essentially a branding function (name tag) applied to a functionally finished product. The Chinese manufactures probably knew that. With Ali Express, that equation is changing.
> Maybe not if you consistently buy things that are exorbitant to ship like ping pong tables or 6 foot ladders...
The point is Walmart would have shipped it to me for cheaper. Now I know better... Shop around first and then order.
As we figure out our "niche stores", I hope designers and entrepreneurs will study McMaster-Carr - a site I found through the garagejournal forum that is an absolute joy to use.
Just drill down into any product category and you'll get a very simple listing, with full descriptions and very helpful diagrams of every single part.
If you need pipe fittings or hose clamps or rivets or gas regulators, please vote with your dollars at this site.
When one sells, you go place an order on Walmart.com for $150 and ship directly to the amazon buyer.
No risk of holding inventory. Pretty easy profit if your competition is low.
Can you explain how that works?
Over the summer I used Prime Video to watch Sneaky Pete, and every episode would start with a 30 second ad for a different Prime show. There was a skip button, but it was hidden, and I could only find it by long tapping.
So I cancelled Prime. I felt silly paying Amazon to display ads at me.
Newegg went the same path like Amazon and I have stopped using them. They used to be my favorite store.
Just today I'm returning something. I was trying to buy more of the sort of underwear I like. But I quickly end up in the junky end of Amazon where the same product is listed under slightly different names by different sellers and the interface gets all weird. It must have done that thing where you pick a size, then pick a color, but it automatically adjusts the size to whatever's available in that color. So I ended up with 3 2-packs of too-small underwear. And one of them came without the manufacturer's packaging, just two pairs of underwear in a baggie. Because that's not suspicious or anything. Now I have to package that stuff and haul it to the UPS store.
And I'm totally with you on the advertising. I get how they got there, with a bunch of teams optimizing short-term micro-metrics. But apparently nobody cares about the overall experience.
Three weeks later, suddenly the seller adds tracking to the Paypal claim, and a few days later the part that I no longer need shows up in a Newegg box. No invoice, packing sheet, etc. and it's still not listed on my Newegg account. My claim gets closed, and there's nobody I can even return this to.
What a stupid, stupid situation.
Newegg has not said anything about this to me, nor explained why after a Newegg transaction my card was cancelled defensively and reissued.
I haven't been able to trust Newegg in a very long time, which is sad. They used to be the gold standard, now it's a decrepit pit of dropshipping garbage.
Where do you go for computer stuff that you can trust these days? Every box in all the Fry's stores around me all seem to have already been opened and returned twice by the time i see them.
It is at least possible to filter it to items only sold by Newegg.
Counterfeits: yes of course, just as many if not more
Multiple listings for the same product with different prices: yes, it's by design!
Advertising: not as much, but it is present
Fake reviews: the product reviews on eBay are mostly useless. The only thing you can rely on is the seller reviews
eBay has some newer product-focused pages and features, but they don't create the kind of problems you see on Amazon.
It also seems somewhat harder to keep creating new seller accounts on eBay. I've been ripped off several times by highly rated sellers on Amazon that disappeared after a several weeks long case pending against them. Amazon resolved it satisfactorily, but it meant that I would have gotten the item faster from China.
All my personal experience, of course.
Of course ebay listings have multiple products, but not in the same super confusing way you see on Amazon.
"mixed reviews and the unknown of which seller is more likely to ship a good product" - Being unsure of which seller is best also exists on eBay
I don't think Amazon's listings are confusing. You usually have size and color variations, and sometimes things like multi-packs. I guess that is subjective.
They've been goofing up their delivery a lot lately too. Delivering items late or delivering the wrong items.
Can't be worse than e.g. NyTimes, Zipcar, Stamps.com (many others I'm sure) that force you to call a human to cancel
Most people probably won't take the initiative to make an enquiry with the merchant for an Amazon marketplace order, and it'd be too inconvenient to do this consistently for small purchases, but maybe part of the motivation for promoting merchants tied exclusively to Amazon is an awareness of the threat that online showrooming might pose to some of their business in the future.
I've switched to sharing Prime with my fiancee through "Amazon Household," and they're even nagging me as I let my now-redundant Prime membership lapse.
I imagine there's just no manager willing to charge the hill of better search when they'd have to die on the sword of plummeting pageview metrics for succeeding.
Amazon has seen a similar decline. Years ago, if you saw a product on Amazon, you could be confident it was as it was labelled, you would get it in a reasonable time and the price was about as good as buying anywhere else. Amazon quality now is total garbage. The store is littered with counterfit goods. If the price looks good, that's probably because the quality is absolutely terrible. I don't enjoy shopping there at all anymore.
It's just as likely that they handed the report off, and it will be handled by someone else entirely. However, none of that makes the situation with the customer right; the customer's problem is they don't have a product. Re-shipping it is just about the only thing they can do in this case.
In that sense I think Amazon falls in-between. Personally I'll use sites like thewirecutter or other review sites to get an idea of what's on the market and what I should be looking for. It's only from there that I'll hit an online merchant to see what they sell and at what price.
I get why it doesn't fit you style, it's a different approach.
I apologize for the vagueness / uncertainty, I'm having trouble finding a link to the story.
they came so close to convincing me and then they had to trot out the platitudes. no business cares ONLY about the consumer
Twitch prime used to justify paying half of the cost on its own, but that no longer gives me the one benefit I care about (no ads). That leaves video, which is a good fringe benefit, but not a main need for me. Amazon music was not a replacement for Spotify (too much things gated behind another 9 usd a month paywall).
To me, it feels like they decided to slowly weaken the benefits of the overall package and hope inertia kept people from opting out (not to mention the dark patterns like cancelling subscription removes the benefits of the current subscription).
I'll buy a YouTube subscription before I pay for a cable package on a streaming service.
I first do research on what specific model I gonna buy and than check who has it the cheapest with a minimum good Shoprating. Often enough I can buy it from or through Amazon.
How do you use Amazon that you will get different quality of a product in comparison to shopping somewhere else?
Granted I’ve never received a counterfeit.
The problem is you may not know. I have received several items from known brands that turned out to be low quality. I don't know if these brands just have started to make low quality items (very possible) or maybe the item was fake.
Why on earth would you buy a Gucci purse from anywhere but Gucci? Caveat Emptor.
Right now, there's an intersection of lower quality goods intended to be discounted with counterfeit goods flooding the market.
If they miss their 2-day shipping guarantee then you call CS, complain, and get a free month of Prime added. Ad infinitum. A way to increase your chances of missed 2-day shipping is to spread out your item orders so it gives them more opportunities to screw up. This also increases their costs of S&H across the entire logistics chain and maximizes the usage of your Prime membership. Plus it feels like every day is Christmas when a new random Amazon item is coming in.
Another key is to order stuff that weighs a lot (40lbs+). Last time I did FBA the UPS rate for Amazon shipping was ~50 cents / lb . So if you're getting a 40lb item (especially if it has weird dimensions) they're likely not paying much lower than $15-20 to get that to your door in 2 days.
> Another key is to order stuff that weighs a lot (40lbs+). Last time I did FBA the UPS rate for Amazon shipping was ~50 cents / lb . So if you're getting a 40lb item (especially if it has weird dimensions) they're likely not paying much lower than $15-20 to get that to your door in 2 days.
This is like overeating at a buffet to feel like you got your money’s worth.
You can either use amazon because you’ve decided you need it or you can actually stop giving them money and recommend others do so. That is a much bigger threat to them. Continuing to use prime and buying things you don’t need from Amazon isn’t being “hostile” to Amazon.
It's like card counting at a casino. Even if you're technically within the rules, you'll still get walked to the door.
As an aside: I canceled prime long ago. Couldn't be happier. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16937290
I've found that now what they do is just give you delivery dates that aren't 2 days in the future, even when in stock. Sometimes I've had orders on Monday with ETAs of Friday, with prime, in stock (no notice on the page saying extra processing or out of stock).
Amazon lost one of my packages (they were delivering it themselves).
No biggie by itself, but the apology mail did not lead to a reimbursement. Instead, I had to go to the website, and go through a dozen of steps that really felt like they were here to make me decide it is not worth my time.
Great way to lose my confidence in the company ..
I feel bad doing this, because I know these packages are coming in via air, truck, boat, etc and batching is significantly more efficient.
In 3 years, we've had only a handful of deliveries that haven't arrived on time. I only cared about 2 of those, and on both occasions they gave me a free month of Prime after I sent a single, short email saying delivery was late. Pretty amazing customer service, especially for the UK!
Amazon isn't always the cheapest (altho they usually are, or are very close), but their customer service is great, and if I have issues they make returns really simple. This is the reason I buy more stuff from Amazon than from anywhere else.
I should add, I've never (knowingly) had any counterfeits from Amazon, and don't personally know of anyone who has, but it seems from HN it's a much bigger issue in the US than in the UK.
Were they beat up in transit, and take forever? Oh most definitely, one was even lost somehow; however they were so undervalued it was worth the fact they were bound to screw up.
They will only do this 12 times a year. You can also request that they give you the late item for free.
The dark pattern the retail side now seem to employ is listing everything under the 2-day shipping Prime label, but not _actually_ shipping it for several days to weeks. Sure, they technically honor 2-day shipping once they actually ship, but as an end user, if something listed as 2-day shipping takes 8 days to be delivered... it isn't actually 2 day shipping.
It used to be go to amazon, enable the "Only Show Prime items" filter, and BAM, get your item 2 days later. Now the prime label is completely useless. You've got to manually investigate each option to see when it will actually be delivered. God help you if you mindlessly decide to change the color on the product page and expect the shipping date to hold.
Obviously a vastly smaller selection, but the prices are competitive and often cheaper than Amazon at this point. Feels good breaking away from Amazon as I was only shopping there from the momentum of what was once a good company.
Aren't many (maybe most) of these fake reviews done through Amazon Mechanical Turk? It's like instead of taking the cost to moderate the reviews, they decided to monetize them. Why pay money, when you can earn it?
I know a lot of them come though Facebook. There hundreds of groups (like this one https://www.facebook.com/groups/amznlove/), where sellers are soliciting fake reviews in exchange for free product and PayPal refunds and commissions.
Here's the Washington Post article that describes this practice: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/how-merchant...
Here's a page that came up after a quick Google search that appears to be a review solication howto: https://www.amzfinder.com/blog/top-100-facebook-groups-list-...
That's crazy because I'm in Canada and it's the reverse. I don't care about the free 2 day shipping because I usually get it quicker using their actual free shipping.
I used the free 2 day shipping of Prime a few time in the past using the student discount but each time, they ship the day after, which still means I receive it in 2 days. When I get the free shipping, more often than not, they ship it the same day and I receive pretty quickly. It's like on Prime they still hope I'm going to buy the overnight shipping while not on it they just ship whenever they can.
Prime Photos/Amazon Cloud Drive has been my most used Prime perk, probably. I use it a ton as a Dropbox alternative (it's not as nice as Dropbox but whatever). Followed closely by Prime Video. Then Prime Music, which I actually don't use on purpose but allows our Echo to 'just work' when it comes to playing music (I often forget to say "...on Spotify") especially themed stations. Twitch Prime is a thing I don't use much, but happy to be ad-free there. Not sure how they do ads anyway.
Honestly I think Prime Video alone is worth the subscription.
I ordered SUV tires from Tire Rack, and they had them to me in 18 hours.
2 day shipping on their end is wildly misleading.
- It started with batteries, which are awesome for the price
- I bought a throwaway comforter + sheets to use for couch-sharing with the dog and they're my favorite set now. Better than my Ikea set which cost 2x as much.
I could go on but for random items the Amazon brand is often pretty decent.
Cue making dozens of companies compete to supply Amazon with the manufacturing contract and constant downward pressure and you get a good product from Amazon at a good price. Not a problem right?
Until the private label brand forces 90% of those formerly quality-focused small brands to shut down and due to their "algorithms" detecting less competition, begins raising prices again. And now the expertise of small brands is gone and no competition springs up in the market.
I've seen this happen in a couple product lines over the year and is one reason we pulled off Amazon. Amazon customers are entitled pains in the ass, and the margin there isn't sustainable. The only way for small brands to make Amazon work is to aggressively sell a single SKU and put in remarketing/back-channel outreach to customers and make the conversions to the rest of your product line off Amazon.
This is explicitly against Amazon's policy, but their policy is in place to ensure they profit and you never gain traction so you remain reliant on them until they day they put you out of business with their own private label line.
Not sure I'm seeing the problem. On the surface it sounds pro-consumer. Plus, this is already common in brick & mortar stores, I think Costco is particularly well-known for doing this (and of course private-label/house/generic store brands are hardly uncommon elsewhere too). If it was that destructive, why do we still have brand names in regular stores as it is?
Most of these sellers are much smaller than the brand names you see in supermarkets, and also much newer. Spigen, Anker etc. don't have the same sentimental decades long attachment that Kellogs, or Pepsi have with consumers either.
Whenever some disrupter comes into a market, you always see some people saying this "just you wait, they'll jack up the prices sky high any minute now!!" and it seems to happen rarely, if ever.
For example, there are plenty of small towns where Wal-mart was able to dominate and drive out small mom and pop retail shops. I've heard plenty of complaints about that, but I've never heard anyone say, "...and then after they drove out all the little shops, the prices went through the roof!!"
It's happening at Amazon. When they started, their prices were often much cheaper than physical retail. Now they're about the same, and sometimes outrageously higher.
> For example, there are plenty of small towns where Wal-mart was able to dominate and drive out small mom and pop retail shops. I've heard plenty of complaints about that, but I've never heard anyone say, "...and then after they drove out all the little shops, the prices went through the roof!!"
I doubt Wal-Mart makes pricing decisions like that at the store level, so your example doesn't really hold up.
I'm curious if you have any examples. I have been very happy with Amazon. Even though every now and then I look up competitor's prices and selection Amazon is usually better at one or both. When they aren't it's not by a lot.
Many people in this thread have complaints about Amazon but my experience has been great so I'm wondering where the disconnect is coming from.
Different poster, but just this morning I was looking for a simple non-smart grounded switch with a physical on/off button in Canada.
Amazon has a couple I could find:
Belkin for $21: https://www.amazon.ca/Belkin-F7C016q-Conserve-Power-Switch/d...
Leviton for $14: https://www.amazon.ca/Leviton-1470-W-3-Wire-Grounded-Switch/...
Local Rona store has the Leviton for $5: https://www.rona.ca/en/plug-in-switch-125-v-white-01815677
This is what did it for me:
All $29.99. A couple years ago I was buying a lot of these in ones and twos. I was also also having a lot of trouble with Amazon Logistics messing things up (and Amazon refusing to allow me to "deprioritize" them, so I could get my package through another carrier with fewer issues). That struggle lead me to take another look at local retail, and removed my illusions about Amazon's automatic superiority. The local stores have most of the same items, for the same price, and available more quickly without shipping delays. They also don't have the fake-review fueled counterfeit problems that Amazon has.
As I've learned more about shopping at local stores, my Amazon use has been reduced to items that are only available on it or that I don't know where to find elsewhere.
If their data is correct there were times when it was available for 10-20% off.
Having read more comments in this thread I'm starting to think that my experience has been different (for the better) because 80+% of the time I know what I'm looking for before I visit Amazon. I rely on Wirecutter and other websites for recommendations if I'm looking for something I know little about.
Another thing is that Amazon has almost everything. It's much simpler to buy a couple of books + nail clippers + socks (one of my recent purchases) from them than make separate orders elsewhere.
And unlike probably most of the posters here I'm from Europe and I haven't experience any unusual issues with shipping so maybe it's a real and more recent concern in the US.
It's not much of a problem, but not much of an advantage either.
So, the question I'm confronted with is: why pay the same for a worse experience? The Amazon route forces me to pay more (Prime) to get it within 2-5 days, or even more to get it faster. Then there are the AMZL_US delivery hassles on top of that. The Home Depot route costs me 25 cents of gas and a 20-40 min of time to get it now-now.
> Do you have any examples where Amazon is selling a product for "outrageously higher"?
Not offhand, but I specifically recall seeing outrageously higher prices for some grocery/drugstore type items. Stuff like a $2 item selling for $6.
Before the MAP ruling, manufacturers could not ban resellers based on pricing, and you saw a lot more Internet discounting on products that the manufacturer saw as "premier" items, that they didn't want reputationally-impacted by low sale prices.
6 companies might sell the same product at varying prices, some of them uploading 1000s of items they have dropshopping for, but no real inventory. 1 or 2 may legitimately sell the product at a manually entered price that's competitive - when those sellers sell out, the others who dropship at cost+100% show up as the default seller.
The big dropshippers make their profit off infrequent, high margin sales that can be auto fulfilled when legitimate sellers run out of inventory.
On the other hand, IIRC studies show that larger companies pay more than smaller ones, and I think there have even been suggestions that this explains some of the GDP per capita differences between developed nations, that some have more large companies that are then more productive due to economies of scale and specialization.
But I can attest to 2 products I've ordered yearly for the past 3 years, increase in price about 10% each year. The diversity of competing products has decreased substantially.
(Well, that and the problem that Walmart sometimes drives out all the mom and pop shops and then closes the Walmart a few years later, leaving the town with nothing but the next closest Walmart 30 miles away.)
Amazon makes no money in retail to drive out competitors and when that day finally happens! Just you wait! The prices! I'm still waiting. The ride has been beneficial so far.
Buying private-label items in supermarkets over name brand has been recommendation #1 in personal finance circles for at least as long as I've been alive. Hell, some private label products are better than brand... I'll go out of my way to buy Kroger's private label ice cream and sodas.
And it's not just food. Half the stuff you see in Walmart is private label, including clothing and pharmacy products (and I've found that I actively prefer their private label sleepwear over name brand). And whenever I buy OTC meds at CVS, of course I always take the private-label bottle, which has the same ingredients yet is half the price.
> I've seen this happen in a couple product lines over the year and is one reason we pulled off Amazon
Oh, I see. You have a personal financial stake in spreading FUD against private-label brands because you operate a name-brand business.
I believe Costco (Kirkland brand) and likely Amazon also contract with one of the major brands (e.g., Tide detergent) to make a store-label parallel product with perhaps slightly different formulation, but often the exact same formulation. The name brand saves on their marketing costs and sells at higher margin, Costco gets a great product they can sell to customers for less than the competition, and customers willing to trust the Costco "Kirkland" brand save a lot of money ... it's a three-way win.
From https://www.wideopeneats.com/store-brand-vs-name-brand-why-k... ...
>> It’s a common misconception that the generic is made from a cheaper brand.
>> Sometimes the generic is made overseas with inferior products, but a lot
>> of Kirkland Signature products are actually the exact same product as the
>> name brand product. ... Sometimes, they’re even manufactured in the
>> same facility!
EDIT: backpack experience
It's different imo. They see what private label products sell on FBA (and the specs they need to fulfill), and then can just negotiate better deals from the same suppliers, because most FBA sellers ship straight from chinese factories to Amazon warehouses it's no secret where it's coming from. And for many product categories there aren't that many high quality factories anyway.
The important part are the specs and quality of the product, if you don't specify and interact with the factories, you'll get crap, if you spec by focusing on the wrong things you pay too much and still get crap. The FBA sellers are basically just testing the right mixture until Amazon steps in adopting their formula. A successfull low cost product is just that, a good enough quality at an as low as possible price.
If you're looking from a supplier side, yeah this business is bleak. But keep in mind someone will always accept a lower margin, run the same business more efficiently, or can produce your goods at a lower cost.
Just because you guys can't stay in the game, doesn't mean the game is broken. You got beat by open competition.
But I'm talking about design and product expertise. People sourcing knockoffs can create a cheaper version 1 of a product, but only a brand connected to it's customers will use their feedback for version 2, 3, 4, n+1.
I'm a little insulated in the food niche because product quality and freshness and expiry dates are huge risk factors, but this applies to other industries as well.
You can buy a knock-off Amazon branded chain lubricant from China that lists the same ingredients if you want, and it may work well in low impact situations. But for my motorcycle, you bet your ass I'm spend 2-3x the lowest price I can find on Amazon for a well known brand with a reputation and uses quality inputs and filters and has no additives. When my health is on the line, brand expertise is essential.
Same with food. There's a floor for quality, and you can't escape the value trade-off. Something being cheaper doesn't mean it's quality is unaffected, but the short-term, inexperienced people at Amazon don't care about that.
I can buy and sell our "product" at half price by buying last year's crop or a lower grade, and I can sell that garbage exclusively through Amazon and "win" the completion, but nobody really wins in that case - me or the customer or our competitors - only Amazon.
It's just capitalism at work. Yesterday's high-quality high-price item becomes today's low-priced low-quality commodity. Quality-focused small brands in every industry and every market need to be constantly improving, developing new product improvements, new niches, new products. (E.g. an even-higher quality version for the luxury niche.)
It's extremely unlikely that Amazon will be be able to raise prices long-term on an own-brand item with "no competition" simply because... well, capitalism. As soon as they do, manufacturers in China or whoever sells the equivalent product at Wal-Mart will list on Amazon for a lower price and make money... so Amazon lowers the price again... and as always, the invisible hand of capitalism keeps prices low for the consumer.
With Amazon, I don't think they are seeking that balance at all. I do not think it's a good long-term move for their retail side. The problem with stabbing all of your friends in the back is that you also have a back.
When I was a kid, the supermarket had an isle named "generic", and all the generic stuff was relegated to that isle and came in plain yellow packaging. Back then, I would have accepted that they're not selling to the same customers as the name brands.
Today, store brand stuff at the supermarket is sitting on the shelf right next to the name brand stuff, with intentionally similar packaging. They are absolutely competing with the name brand stuff. And thats true at Home Depot and Walmart and Costco and everywhere else I shop that has a mix of store-brand and third-party brand stuff.
Of all the places I shop, Amazon is the only one whose store-brand is plainly labeled as such, and I give them kudos for that. Some places like the grocery store and Costco have a single store-brand, so you don't have to work too hard to figure out whats name brand and what isn't. While yet other places have several store brands that aren't really marketed as such in an attempt to confuse you into thinking you're getting a name brand (plumbing and electrical fixtures at Home Depot and Lowes is where I've seen this most rampantly)
I want to add that there is a hidden benefit for name brands to having the house brands there, at a lower price point. There's plenty of fascinating reading on "price positioning" and how having a lower house brand right next to the national brand results in increased sale of the national brand.
My main point was that I don't think Amazon sees its relationship with vendors the same way that older retailers do. WMT has a deserved reputation for being very aggressive with their suppliers, but I believe that their culture still sees the relationship goal as win-win (they would argue that they are helping their suppliers achieve better efficiency, or often licensing the national brand's stock to make their house brand so more sales for all). I know nothing about Amazon's buyer culture, but their own brand activity does not seem to give much consideration to supplier health.
It's also interesting to note that their own brands are immune to the commingling problem, which gives them a perverse incentive to let that problem ride. That makes me very uncomfortable.
I'm sorry but I just can't buy that. Generics in the supermarket and drugstore (at least the ones I go to) are directly next to the name-brand and clearly compete directly. There's no "arrangement" or "balancing of interests" between the two, any more than Coca-Cola and Pepsi have an arrangement or balance of interests to appear on the shelf next to each other -- which they of course don't, but rather are in cutthroat competition with each other, the same way they have been for decades.
It's flat-out competition pure and simple, there's zero difference of intent from what Amazon is doing. And both survive, because some people prefer to pay a little extra for name-brand or quality, and some people prefer to save a little money and trust generics. The only balance is between pricing and demand.
Many store-brand generics are manufactured by the exact same company that manufactures the name brand. The arrangement works because the manufacturer know that some consumers are cost conscious, some are brand conscious and willing to pay more. If they lower the price of the name-brand to get the cost conscious consumers, they lose out on the name brand markup. The solution is often two slightly different brand from the same company at different price points. For this to work, it's important that the store brand packaging have zero connection to the name brand.
Costco is especially known for doing this. IIRC, Kirkland batteries are probably Duracells in different packaging.
The invisible hand corrects mistakes, but that's no defense of making mistakes.
This is what creates the imbalance in the competition.
The distributor uses a private-label to bundle the sales of a lucrative product-tier that is sold across multiple brands in his channel into a single in-house brand.
For the original-brand to enter this channel again after it has left, it would have to be _cheaper_ than the private-label (to exceed the profit the channel makes with its private-label product), or prove that it can sell MORE VOLUME than the private-label for whatever reason (=more profit for the channel).
Unfortunately for both cases the brand is entering at a steep disadvantage, because it would have to finance its own brand to overpower the brand of the private-label, market their product to push sales, yet sell-in at a lower price, and even rely on the very same brand it now competes with (100% of the channel customers are shopping there because of the channel-brand).
At this point in the game, creating consumer-value becomes a niche-topic, because the barrier is now to create more profit for the channel, otherwise he will not allow you to reach the consumer...
That's one of the reasons why we keep seeing an increase in own-brand stores of major companies.
It's the lack of "brick and mortar net-neutrality"...
So, I would think the same would apply here: it's ok that Amazon has won a monopoly as a retail channel, but starting to leverage that to sell their own goods should be against antitrust laws. However, it seems that in the last 2 decades the only thing that courts have considered is "is the price lower for the consumer", so most antitrust laws appear to have been eviscerated in any case.
People seem to forget a fundamental part of capitalism is that government should intervene to maintain a level playing field. Then...what defines a level playing field..
edit: another quick googling says that US courts apparently almost never conclude a company has market power if they have less than 50% market share: https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?r...
Amazon is still growing at a good clip but I'd be really surprised if they were able to pass even 20%, let alone 50%.
We could probably have post-scarcity as Keynes envisaged right now if we hadn't created rampant throwaway consumerism along with increase in capability post WW2. The moment an issue is "solved" fake problems will be invented to sell a needless alternative. e.g. The creation and marketing of liquid soap that's worse in essentially all respects to bar soap, or the whole creation of body and looks insecurity to sell a cosmetic or cream.
So, surely in x years when technologically we're able to achieve post-scarcity it'll just spawn another fake solution to another fake problem? Another reason to keep working 40 hrs instead of dropping to 20.
Maybe it can truly appear after World War 3, the banking and finance wars.
Humans require a timely supply energy to live and act. Converting energy into human-usable form, requires energy. Recycling and remanufacturing require energy just like mining and "unsustainable" manufacturing do. And even renewable sources can collectively provide only a finite amount of energy per unit time.
That's a pretty low bar, isn't it? Show an iPhone's capabilities to, say, a WWII soldier or industrial revolution textile worker, and they'll deem it pretty magical.
Electronic computers were being built in WWII and television existed. I doubt many would see an iphone as magical.
The uneducated masses of soldiers and workers are much easier to dazzle and fool than technical personnel; and I apologize for not qualifying my previous comment enough to convey the idea that the Star Trek replicator, if it were to exist and be transported to the present day, would indeed be magic to any sane scientist or engineer.
Time Traveler: look at this iPhone!
WW2 soldier: that’s a flimsy looking walkie-talkie, wouldn’t last a day fighting the Waffen SS. Do you mind? I got work to do.
You could use it as a personal organizer - but without connectivity it can be argued that a paper organizer is easier to use. There are a few other programs that will also work in a fashion, but again lacking connectivity the paper equivalents are as good if not better.
There are also a few games that will work: you can really impress them with the games you can play.
The only thing impressive will be the camera - a full color picture that you can zoom in on and save is interesting. Having 10000 photos (plus some videos) in your pocket will get attention. Of course once the phone breaks you lose all that, but still it will be impressive.
You would also have no way to charge it, it’s not like any modern phone has simple inputs for 5v or whatever.
some are very obvious but it is similar when grocery shopping, it can be difficult to know who is making the product you buy.
The customer-expectation of a brand-product is based on the perception, the history and the presence of that brand, a well-crafted association and experience that is funded with the profit of the product.
The private-label product is cutting this funding. It will not finance the supplier-brand and it sets its own expectation and quality-thresholds on the product.
The supplier accepts that and waives his control to get the volume-order and fill production-gaps in its factory.
In this kind of deal there is no direct relationship between the original brand and the private-label product anymore.
Edit, for clarification:
It's not said that the potato-chips will be exactly the same. The minimum requirements of the brands may not match with the minimum-requirements of the private-label, i.e. for the private-label a different grade of potato, oil, salt might be used.
Isn't it time we grew up as society, get forthright and stop trying to trick people into buying stuff by hiding information so sellers can bait-and-switch, cut quantities, cut ingredient value, etc..
Isn't it embarrassing? You sell great batteries at a good price, but only long enough to capture the market so you can push bad value on millions of people and cause excess damage to the environment .. so you can make a personal fortune. Straight theft seems almost moral compared to this.
I bought biscuits yesterday, same box, same price, 17% less biscuits. Just now the packaging is very wasteful, but they managed to use extra plastic to disguise the reduction of food content. Oh, and apparently as the small print on the back gives the contents this is all fine. Some manager got a bonus for that I imagine.
Cognitive Violence is a thing. It won't (usually) kill you as directly as a blow to the skull, but it's not exactly life enhancing either.
If I'm Pepsi and you want to white-label my product but then again still want to tell everyone it's Pepsi, you still make your sales on the back of my brand-investment, so you'll have to pay for the brand as well.
I've been an amazon customer since they started. I've ordered thousands of books. However, this year, I cancelled my prime membership. I got tired of them not delivering packages. Sometimes they were delivered to our postal box; sometimes the front door; and sometimes not at all. I gave up and discovered that brick and mortar stores often have better products and I can get it immediately.
As far as people saying they get free months of Prime, my wife had packages never delivered and we would complain, they would just apologize and refund the purchase. Packages that were late? They just apologized. Once, the driver couldn't find our address, so he called the technical support who called my cell phone. I had to walk two blocks waving my arms before he found me.
Now, I find when I'm searching for something, I find that I don't get the best price. If I search long enough, I will find the same exact item cheaper. I'm convinced the search results are prioritized to make them the most money, not the best price or best match.
After canceling, I bought an electronic device and paid for fast shipping. The package was shipped out of the local warehouse, where they gave it to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver. The shipping cost via USPS was probably around $4. If I remember, they charged me around $12.50 for expedited shipping. They arbitraged the postage. I felt scammed.
I only shop at Amazon as a last resort now.
They are such a mess. The amount of items that have changed the product but kept the reviews, often from a phone case but now its a video projector pretending the 200 reviews belong to it. Not to mention one items page can have multiple sellers selling different varieties of the item.
If you got it in the last 12 months, call Amazon and explain the problem to them. They'll likely send you a replacement and probably refund your money, if the issue continues.
The only serious issue I've had with AmazonBasics so far was with a portable battery which was at risk of exploding or catching fire unexpectedly, so it was recalled.
Two things to look out for are that they no longer tend to offer the lowest prices, and you could probably receive counterfeits. A lot of companies have changed their tune after taking a beating from Amazon, but unfortunately I think many customers have grown used to going to them for everything, even when it's not the best choice. To give a few examples:
You can often find electronics for the same price at Best Buy, and they allow in-store pickup so you might get what you want even faster. Fry's takes it one step further by price matching other technology stores. I'd also trust both to not sell counterfeits.
If you're looking for cables or adapters, Monoprice has very competitive prices and they've always been reliable. I've had all sorts of issues with adapters or cables purchased through Amazon.
For home and everyday items, Target and Walmart can often be quite competitive as well. Why pay $10 for a shower liner when a $1 or $2 one works just as fine?
... which has been the warning to anyone selling on Amazon for at least a decade or so?
I ordered some food processing gadget, but it does not come with any kind of EU certification (i.e. not stamped or anything) and it is shipped direct from China in a box that says "gift". The same product on Alibaba have different seller and some claim they are selling the "food-safe" one and not others.
The brand from China are all mysterious from a foreign buyer point of view, so I cannot even buy from a brand and trust that the brand is serious about its reputation. Anyway, on Alibaba/express, there are often several brand claiming the same product despite using the same picture than another.
That's a mess, and indeed if I bother buying from Amazon (instead of Aliexpress), I hope the stuff coming to be at least legal. I can understand some amount of counterfeiting, not the current level though.
They're already one step ahead and have just copied the CE Marking logo as well
It is ironic how all kinds of certifications, originally conceived as a mean to kneecap Chinese/Asian exporters, now play into their hand.
Now, it is Western companies that don't want to develop a thing on their own, or make any original products as such, as that will require them to undergo certification for every self-developed, original product. Unlike with white box designs that were specifically designed for OEM industry, and allow for all kinds of effortless customisation without losing certification, and reaping the benefit of economies of scale (one OEM design being sold to many customers under a single certificate).
Apparently the list of ingredients is a machine-translation of the original (unknown) language.
It listed "palm-oil" as an ingredient. Sounds reasonable, but my language has different words for Palm, the tree and Palm, the palm of your hand.
Apparently my chocolate was made from oil extracted from human hands. Pretty disgusting.
If I had the required time or energy I'd try to file some sort of complain, but unfortunately I don't. Mostly because that's outright dangerous (imagine a potentially lethal allergen lost in machine translation).
I know we're in the tech bubble so most of us probably do research before buying anything online, that's why I ask.
Oh, but argue people will!
Some people have a fairly un-nuanced view and assume that instead of the cheaper option being a cheap knockoff the more expensive ones are attempting to rip them off (because if one company can offer X for Y, anyone asking more is creaming extra profit). And some pretend to be that naive when it comes to refund/replacement/negative-review-designed-to-encourage-an-out-of-warranty-replacement/refund time.
Gritin - China - 12 Euro ~ 5 stars / 310 reviews "Amazon Choice"
KLIM - China - 20 Euro ~ 5 stars / 864 reviews
Panasonic - Japan - 8 Euro ~ 4 stars / 1.335 reviews
Beats by Dr. Dre - USA - 22 Euro ~ 3 stars / 172 reviews
qubbi - USA - 10 Euro ~ 4 stars / 48 reviews
Anker - China - 20 Euro ~ 4 stars / 1176 reviews
Mpow - China - 20 Euro ~ 5 stars / 463 reviews
Anecdotally chinese companies appear to outperform foreign companies on quality among the popular choices - if review scores are anything to go by.
Though those headphones are mostly in the same price range, and certainly not vastly differently priced.
They're pretty much all low-end headphones. Yes. Even the Beats by Dr. Dre who like to pretend they're not.
The price also means I don’t need to worry about losing them which is a great “feature”.
Mine are the results I got on Amazon Germany.
As do Apple, Microsoft, Google and everyone else.
For popular global brands in the lucrative consumer electronics sector - where good reviews are everything - I am not so sure.
> Whether the manufacturing happens in china or elsewhere is completely irrelevant to the actual quality of the product.
Completely irrelevant? What makes you think that?
Anecdotally again, most of those numerous bad reviews for Beats by Dr. Dre exist because apparently they tend to fall apart after only days of use. So much for western quality control.
> Anker is a brand of Chinese electronics company Anker Innovations [...]. Headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong [...]
Here are the grades according to that website:
Gritin - A (90%)
KLIM - F (62%)
Panasonic - A (90%)
Beats by Dr. Dre - Not available on .co.uk
qubbi - Not enough reviews on .co.uk
Anker - A (90%)
Mpow - Not enough reviews on .co.uk
You'd think to see an Anker product on the first page given their reputation for reliable electronics and (at least in my circles) popularity.
Head-Fi forums are all the rage about them.
> At Newegg they go from $355 up to $446 but on Taobao and AliExpress they can be found as low as $130
I'm sure he really wants to! Otherwise why would he sent his people to China to beg major Taobao/Aliexpress operators to get on the Amazon train?