When shopping, remember the lessons of Amazon’s competitors

Forget just about everything you think you know about shopping. These days, you might call Amazon your “designer at home” or Amazon shopping your “pop-up shop.” If you want a pop-up shop, consider your…

When shopping, remember the lessons of Amazon’s competitors

Forget just about everything you think you know about shopping. These days, you might call Amazon your “designer at home” or Amazon shopping your “pop-up shop.”

If you want a pop-up shop, consider your clothes for less. That’s the point of items you see for less on QVC, Tastemade, NowThis, Nordstrom Rack, Walmart and elsewhere. They are essentially “retail on demand,” eBay founder Pierre Omidyar told Business Insider.

Next time you are browsing the shelf at a friend’s house and notice a Magnolia Kit and Iris Hair Cookie Cutter — $30 — from ASOS for $20. Amazon is doing it for you, too. Last year the company shipped on average more than 200,000 Pantry items to customers (you know, those granola, water and cake mixes). The staples went for as low as $3.99 each in the Prime Pantry program.

“The key to getting goods to customers that are increasingly busy and busy themselves can be making things out of things,” said Jill Greenthal, founder of the #mikeputzy campaign. “The quicker you can get it to them and get them to order something, the faster it will be to the people that need it.”

It’s an obvious leap. We already recognize many of the dimensions of the consumer marketplace today: social interactions that connect us to our neighbors; shopping and discounting that favor price; grocery stores that stock items at various price points. But the exact difference is up for debate.

Coupons are all about speed and convenience, right? And yet in 2018, Kim Bongiorno studied coupon use by shoppers and found that even though they were using fewer coupons, the average coupon-taker is more convinced that they are saving money, according to The New York Times.

Wait, aren’t couponing websites for guys and boys? They’re trending among those who identify themselves as millennials. Greg Scott of The Times said fewer and fewer men are using the sites, but they are likely more selective: They would rather save money through phone apps that allow comparison shopping or better deals on Amazon.

But buying groceries on app, too? How can that be if you know you can easily order a rotisserie chicken on Seamless or UberEats, or that Ikea sells organic produce in three days from its website and in 90 minutes by phone from its brick-and-mortar store in Columbia?

If you just want to shop, then your options seem limited. However, buyer interaction is directly linked to your purchasing habits, and as technology develops, the options are as dizzying as ever. For example, Amazon runs the popular Mom and Pop shops through its Dash Replenishment Service. You pay about 10 bucks per year for the service and your accounts automatically replenish your laundry detergent, paper towels and dishwasher tablets at the automated store shelves. Over the years, it has expanded to include over 100 household products like dishwashers, blenders, dishware, dryers and more.

But, just like the early digital retailers of yore, Amazon has its quirks. Recently, the company kicked popular users out of the Dash Replenishment Service, according to one report. Apparently, Amazon changed its policy and, for some reason, its customer service had a hard time communicating. The shipping fees were also raised for some goods, in a move that was likely not well-received by some online retailers.

Is there a way to make commerce and online retail competitive to more traditional methods of doing business? More to the point, how are the disrupters affecting traditional retail and shopping? It was once an open question about whether online retailers could succeed against bricks-and-mortar chains. Even when big online retailers decided to open physical stores, it seemed like they could not avoid the death spiral.

But retail, like everything else, will never be the same, and things like QVC or Amazon-in-your-car are always going to be an alternative to spending money at a brick-and-mortar store.

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