Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mixed Opinion About Amazon

I have been shopping on Amazon for years now and to date really haven’t had any issues with the items that I have ordered. Actually, it has been a great resource to find some of the more obscure items that most stores don’t carry particularly when it comes to hard to find books. Additionally, the shipping has always been reasonable which is why I have preferred Amazon over other sites like Abe Books.

It continues to be a great place for one stop shopping offering a wide variety of items across numerous categories and from multiple vendors. When comparing one item over another or even on brand over another has been a great resource and, at least in the past, the prices have been the best around. However, things change and Amazon is slowly becoming just another place to shop with not guarantee as to best price and soon without the same variety that I have enjoyed up to this point.

Over the last couple of months, there have been a few stories that have come to light that have but a slight damper on the current and future shopping experience on the site. In addition to the general flux regarding the marketplace (non Amazon products) and whether or not the storefronts will remain beyond this year, there was recently a price fixing scheme uncovered that explained, at least on some products, the lack of competitive pricing of those items not offered directly from Amazon. Makes sense, with price no longer the main driver, why many retailers are willing to price match products sold and shipped by Amazon but not in the general marketplace. I guess this is a big reason why there are other sites that are easily beating the Amazon site as a whole in the pricing game. 

However, with all of that said, I still find myself purchasing a good amount from the site (and my coworkers can attest to the piles of packages that I get on occasion). There are still some moderately priced items, the general availability is still good, shipping is free (most of the time), and the convenience of being able to order a quick item or two while at the office is still key to my continued use. Actually, this is only one of the two main drivers of my continued patronage with the other being the benefits of Prime membership.

I am generally not a big proponent of the membership services offered by Amazon and the like but the video and music benefits have been worth the $100 per year (it helps that a lot of the movies have been watched on a free Kindle). The free video content has been utilized not just at home but on the road during business trips as well. I don’t mind waiting a year or two to watch a ‘new’ movie so it is nice to have free access to the entire prime library. I have also found that when I have ordered DVDs during the holidays that it, many times, comes with free prime access as well. An ancillary perk has been that of free 2-day shipping which has come in handy when I order that occasional item.

Overall, while things have changed and it is no longer the site that I first started using years ago, it is still a decent place to find the items that you are looking for and it is a good resource to compare prices (and match prices). While the purchasing of physical products may no longer be my primary use of the site, the value still exists in the access to a tremendous library of digital content through my prime membership. There are other sites that I go to if I want to find a better deal and in some instances there are a few physical stores where I know the prices will be better. It really is amazing to think about how much has changed over the years and where we now find the value at different places such as on Amazon.