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Amazon’s Push For Dominance

Amazon goes even bolder. In the face of offline retailers.  In the homes of shoppers.  We’ll look at the Amazon push for retail dominance.

A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from Amazon.com in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP)

A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from Amazon.com in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP)

Is there anything Amazon.com can’t sell?  We’re about to find out.  The online retail giant just keeps expanding.  This week, wine.  But that’s the least of it.  New warehouses.  New delivery speed.  New package deals to tie you in lock, stock and barrel to the Amazon retail juggernaut.

What’s going to be left of brick and mortar retail?  Of the commercial retail centers, shops, where we have forever gathered and browsed and rubbed shoulders?  Ask Borders – gone.  Ask Best Buy – reeling.  And a lot of others.

This hour, On Point:  what next, as Amazon conquers the retail world?

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Andrea Chang, technology reporter for the L.A. Times. You can find her latest piece on Amazon here.

Brad Stone, senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in Bloomberg’s San Francisco bureau. You can find his stories on Amazon here, here, and here.

Howard Davidowitz, retail analyst.

Liza Bernard, independent bookstore owner.

From Tom’s Reading List

You can also check out past shows about Amazon. We looked at the Amazon economy here, we examined warehouse conditions here, and talked with founder Jeff Bezos here.

Christian Science Monitor “Kelly Burdick, the executive editor for independent publisher Melville House, penned a column Oct. 2 saying that despite Barnes & Noble’s well-known policy of not carrying titles published by Amazon, he had seen Amazon-released book “My Mother Was Nuts” by Penny Marshall at a New York Barnes & Noble location. When he did a “Find in store” search for Marshall’s book on the company’s website, he said the website indicated that the book could be found at Barnes & Noble locations in SeattleSan FranciscoBoston, and Washington, D.C., among others.”

The Guardian “The opening salvo was fired last week by America’s biggest book chain Barnes & Noble, when it announced that it would not be stocking Amazon Publishing‘s books. The website publishes a large range of titles, with imprints covering everything from romance to thrillers, and major authors including Deepak Chopra and self-help guru Timothy Ferriss.”

L.A. Times “As if shopping on Amazon.com needed to get any more dangerous: The online retailer will now start selling wine in a dedicated section on its site, just in time for the holidays.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Unterthurn

    As Amazon does better so will Ebay. Ebay’s retailers often undercut Amazon’s pricewise and if you have a problem with Amazon’s retailers you are screwed, because they don’t provide a clear line of one’s rights as a consumer. Ebay isn’t any better, but at least I know Ebay doesn’t value the consumer, so I have learned to deal directly with the seller to try to resolve problems.

  • Shag_Wevera

    This is what businesses do.  Why does one bank buy another?  Why does Sprint buy out US Cellular in the Midwest?  Total waste of time and effort IMO.  This is who we are, I guess.

  • ttajtt

    assumably-line indoor to front door service, how can the post office be hurting.      

  • hennorama

    Amazon just started a wine marketplace, in a limited way.  From the LA Times:

    “The online retail giant launched a wine marketplace on its website Thursday, with more than 1,000 domestic brands available.

    For now, wines will be shipped only to a dozen states, including California, and to Washington, D.C. Bottle prices range from less than $10 to more than $100; shipping costs $9.99 for up to six bottles of the same wine.”

    (Source:http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-amazon-wine-20121109,0,6285610.story)

    [OOPS - guess I should have read more than the title of the segment before commenting.]

  • IsaacWalton

    Until Amazon improves their security measures and guarantees they won’t get me back as a purchaser. Which is too bad. I spend an average of 5k a year online. Once I got my credit card stolen by an “authorized Amazon” shop on Amazon.com I never went back.

  • IsaacWalton

    I’ll stick with Ebay, Etsy or buy directly from the company that sells the item. Peace of mind means more to me than saving money. Typically if Amazon is selling it lower than say, Walmart or the manufacturer…it’s too good to be true and you’ll lose out on customer service/returns/refunds.

  • GKoenig

    Over 100 years ago, Sears, Roebuck, & Co. did much the same thing with their catalog sales.  Folks in rural areas could obtain a catalog and learn about thousands of products not necessarily available to them locally.  Yes, Sears also opened brick & mortar stores (and so might Amazon, right?).
    Look where Sears is today.  That was quite a long arc of success, that peaked in the 1960s, perhaps. But everything has it’s peak and eventually its decline.  I’m not too worried.  As I say “Fashion trumps everything.”  By that I mean that the public is fickle and eventually trends shift, often without us really knowing completely why.  People do what they “feel like” doing.

  • IsaacWalton

    Can I return an item bought from Amazon in a store? Nope. And that’s why Amazon won’t beat out stores with a brick and mortar presence. 

  • IsaacWalton

    Think about this too. Ebay owns Paypal, and I’m guessing it’s a bit more secure than buying with a credit card. If Amazon adopts a similar purchase system, market it and convince others that it’s safer than Paypal…they might gain some profits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    Another nail in the coffin of people serving people in the marketplace. Once, the market was more than commerce. It was the way news was gathered & spread, where people met the loves of their lives. I cannot see how Amazon, EBay or any other remote-service retail enterprise can take the place of community as we humans have always known it.

  • http://twitter.com/superflippy Susanna King

    I’m troubled by working conditions for the people who work in fulfillment warehouses for Amazon, Overstock, and other big online retailers. They’re often run by outside contractors and employees are paid little, treated poorly. Read this article for an example: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor

  • IsaacWalton

    Ok so Amazon is investing in NEW products to sell. What strides are they taking in improving the MORE IMPORTANT part of the purchase process (besides the product)…let’s hear about SECURITY, GUARANTEES, RETURNS!

  • GKoenig

    At the moment, it seems as if the ‘cashless’ and ‘storeless’ society is coming.  But in the long run, people will get tired of all the security problems, forgotten passwords, impersonal customer service (no matter how good it is, you never get the same person on the phone again).
    The turn back will come from people who want more community, more face to face interaction, more personal contact with their neighbors, more trust based on personal familiarity, rather than trying to extend trust through technological safeguards.

    • IsaacWalton

      I’m with you. I work from home so I have time to research and purchase things online. BUT, I value going to the store and TALKING with someone. I can’t get expert advice on hunting, fly fishing, books from an Amazon web page. Amazon (and other retailers) have replaced an in-person expert with USER REVIEWS! Ha! For your average purchases that may work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.castronovo Jim Castronovo

    My wife and I work from home and we have one car. One year we put only 6,000 miles on it thanks in great part to e-shopping. Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s work off the model that the car is your principal vehicle for acquiring things. There is very little social benefit to the experience of driving through traffic to visit a behemoth store on Route 1. We used the alternative model your show touches on. We save gas, time, aggravation and we befriended our FedEx and UPS drivers. I welcome the ‘independent retailer’ in a small village setting. What is lacking is urban planning in great swaths that supports that option.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      But Amazon will ship most anything for free, starting at $25.

      How much do you figure they’re determined to keep shipping costs down and fuel prices low to not lose those people buying like that?

      Given normative costs, won’t that go the way of Woolworth’s “five and dime” pricing?

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.tinstman Michael Tinstman

    Perhaps this will pave the way for more local/small biz retail in our downtown’s again, by pushing out the big box/warehouse retail that helped kill them.  The Amazon’s can replace big box retail in a more hidden way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

    The main reason I started buying more on Amazon is exasperation with the customer service that I now get in brick-and-mortar stores. I’m not an old geezer, but I’m old enough to remember going into my local bookstore and having it be staffed by knowledgeable people who knew books and were eager to help me. You would have to be pretty naive if you’ve failed to notice that ship sailed away long ago. I go into Barnes & Noble in my town (now that it has put the independent booksellers out of business), and I am astonished by the attitude of the employees. They’re not the least bit interested in helping me; they answer the phone in the middle of dealing with me; they don’t know much about books; they are often nowhere to be found; and their attitude is either indifferent or unctuous, with that middle-ground level of courteous and friendly service nowhere in evidence (I wonder if they’ve had any customer service training at all). It was even worse at the local Borders store, but that solved itself: they’re gone. I don’t have to put up with discourteous service when I order online. It was an easy call to make. Amazon acts like it wants my business, and I can respond positively to that.

  • siskoe

    My daughter is a freshman in college…paying her own way..when she researched purchasing her textbooks she saved 395.00 dollars purchasing her books via Amazon..she is a student prime member now..and now she can get dorm food delivered in one day and she can watch downtown abbey on her computer…they have her hooked…and she is saving huge money….thanks Amazon!!

  • vermonter77

    One thing that’s incredibly disturbing about Amazon is that I’ve read accounts on the web of them PERMANENTLY CLOSING CUSTOMER ACCOUNTS without warning, for passing some unpublished threshold of returns.  When this has happened to folks, they not only lose access to their Amazon account and customer service FOR LIFE…but also, any Kindle content they thought they owned.  It’s disturbing, to say the least………

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=704015046 Mark Goldberger

    Wine is an area where Amazon has failed twice previously and their current plan is no better than their first two tries. With $13.5 billion sold in the U.S. each year, it is not surprising that Amazon wants to get into this arena, but they have been trying for over a decade unsuccessfully. Their current attempt does not include Amazon fulfilling orders themselves; rather, they are using their marketplace function and charging wineries to conduct business on the site.

  • wendystrothman

    Amazon has had a destructive force on publishing, both independent booksellers and publishers.  As publishers need to merge to counter Amazon’s power and as booksellers disappear, the reading public loses because publishers become much more cautious in what they will publish and your local independent bookseller isn’t there to recommend that hidden gem.  Many of today’s established writers wouldn’t have a chance to begin in today’s unforgiving marketplace, and that’s largely the result of Amazon’s grip on the retail world.  We’ll lose choice in every category if Amazon takes over.

  • Brownmouse

    What happened to anti-trust laws?  We have unemployment and low wages; wouldn’t it be better to break up these big companies (Walmart, Amazon, for example) and let mom and pop business reemerge?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Clearly, you are not a shareholder in any of these retail behemoths. Mom & Pop were driven out of business by the insatiable quest for megabucks & not by accident. Why rebuild what we’ve deliberately knocked down, an act motivated by pure greed? It’s not a pretty picture.

  • ToyYoda

    I feel for the local bookstore.  I go to them as much as I can.

    But,  the consumer at large has already voted with his wallet; they find very little value in community activity. Furthermore, it’s not like amazon can’t put up their own community bookstore.  If amazon came out with an ‘Amazon Cafe’, I’d be going to it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      I can see it now: Individual, hermetically sealed pods, free of smells, sounds & sights, where your coffee is poured by an invisible robot & your implanted chip is scanned on the way out. Nice & cozy, in other words. I wouldn’t be caught dead in an Amazon anyplace, personally.

  • nj_v2

    http://www.ilsr.org/amazon-infographic/

    Amazon Infographic: How a Single Company Gained a Stranglehold over Online Shopping and the Future of Retail

    http://www.thenation.com/slideshow/168179/ten-reasons-avoid-doing-business-amazoncom

    Ten Reasons to Avoid Doing Business With Amazon.com

    • StilllHere

      Pathetic, truly.
      Feel free to buy your tampons from your local 7/11 if it makes you feel better.

  • IsaacWalton

    I can buy any of my fly rods and reels online, I might save a little. But I buy them from my local fly shop because they have EXPERT knowledge on the topic. Dear local shop owner…hire experts, train your staff, market your knowledge or perish.

    The caller mentioned they were a “specialty” store. If a big box store is selling what you are selling…what you’re selling is not so special. Take a hard look at your product. How unique are you?

    • Yar

      My dad was waited on at a Lowes store by a guy that seemed very knowledgeable, he commented that he was the most helpful employee he had ever met.  The guy responded that he had been trained as a nuclear engineer.  

      • JGC

        Ouch.

  • Yar

    Tax not collected on out of state internet purchases, slave wages for their workers, this will change Amazon’s built in advantage with implementation of Obamacare and as states realize that Amazon hurts their local economy.  

    • OnPointComments

      According to Glassdoor.com, the average salary for an Amazon warehouse worker is $26,600 per year.  The employee reviews are predominantly neutral to very satisfied, with many more “satisfied” and “very satisfied” than neutral.  One employee review from 6 days ago for an order picker was ““I have never worked for a company that cared so much about their employees’ health, well-being, and happiness!” Many reviews mention the opportunity for advancement.  It appears that the people who actually work at Amazon don’t agree with your assessment that they are slaves.

  • burroak

    Something to be said about the independent small bookstore; it is unique.  

    • IsaacWalton

      You’re right. It’s the bookstores that have TRIED (and failed) to emulate/become a big bookstore that fail! Small, unique, expert and rightly more expensive will prosper. I can buy mass made items from any retailer…it’s the high quality (less quantity) buying that is the future. 

      • burroak

        And it is the human interaction, call it more intimate, couzy, that is absent from the big-box-stores; and I am not even mentioning the architectural aspect of the unique book store.

  • J__o__h__n

    Amazon lost money on my Kindle Fire.  I just bought it for cheap portable internet and have only downloaded public domain books so I’ll never be caught without something to read if I’m traveling.  I prefer actual books which I buy at a number of places or get from the lbrary.

  • epjmermaid

    I used to use Amazon for all my books and music and most of my Christmas shopping….until I heard a show on NPR (can’t remember if it was OnPoint or not) that exposed their treatment of people working in their shipping warehouses.  It was abhorrent.  Mistreatment of workers is how they offer free shipping.  It made me sick and I stopped using Amazon unless I absolutely can’t find something somewhere else.  I support local stores as much as possible now.

  • geraldfnord

    In my podunk, jock-ruled, home town, the tiny, local, book-store was an oasis for the people worth knowing in a sea of mediocretins.

  • meher makda

    Recently I needed a dress for a wedding and was excited to go try it but none of the stores had it! You had to order online (e.g. J CREW). I was very disappointed. I would like to buy from stores but a lot of the times they do not carry the merchandise and ask you to order online.And it is usually cheaper. Even if you want to go to stores, you can’t!

    • IsaacWalton

      So True! My wife went to Anthropologie to buy a dress…it was on their site, but not in stores! What a dissapointment!

      I don’t see why they don’t have a few sizes of each and don’t sell them…just use them as a model in the store. And then have a terminal for you to buy it right online right there and then ship it FREE to your house!

      • TinaWrites

        Some very fortunate women know what size they are, and if the size really looks right on them.  A lot of hassle if you are not one of these lucky people.  

  • madrivervt

    I live in Montpelier, Vermont, a city of 10,000 which has three independent book stores. I use Amazon.com all the time.  I look up books, I read the reviews.  Then I find the ISBN number of the book I want and e-mail it to a local book store and ask them to get it in for me.  I don’t pay for shipping, and if I pay an extra buck or two to support my neighbors, I’m all for it.
    -Steve

    • TinaWrites

      If I understand the show correctly, Amazon might STILL be able to influence what gets published.

  • IsaacWalton

    Thank you Martha! Great point. Too much power in one retailer’s hands is BAD for the consumer. And kudos to every publisher/seller who is sticking it to Amazon…how DARE they just take down the buy buttons on their site for Macmillan. That’s low! Reap what you sow Amazon!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.myers.7503 Andrew Myers

    The face of retails is changing, no doubt. But the question should be more about how small business can adapt to online retails space with the same success that Amazon has. Product listings, ratings, and one-click checkout, are all attainable features to which small businesses can adapt, but they have to be forward thinking, and abandon the idea that you can compete with a behemoth like Amazon through a brick and mortar store front.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    When all book sales become cashless,  the government will have control of all political opposition through a private monopoly.  Fascism.  Diverse opinions will be non-existent.  POsitive change will be almost impossible.

  • jefe68

    I wonder were this is going in terms of antitrust laws.The last story about Macmillan publishers sounds a lot like an antitrust issue or very close.

  • ToyYoda

    Unfortunately, in the very long run, I can’t see how any sort of retailer can survive, whether that is an internet company like Amazon or a brick-and-mortar store.  

    Authors will eventually be connected directly to their readers without having a middle man like a publisher in the way.  3D printers are on the way, and that will connect product designers with consumers wanting concrete things and allowing for infinite customization. It will also cut out the mailman.

    [Tom, by the way, you need to do a show on 3D printers. Economist has already had a couple articles on it, and its' already been written about in dozens of science magazines for years. But, the time is almost here. And it could be a real game changer.]

  • WBC_in_MA

    Would Amazon be so successful if it had to charge sales tax?

  • twocents17

    I live in a small rural town.  There are no bookstores, independent or otherwise within a 1 1/2 hours’ drive. There are very few independent retailers in this area, either. Winter weather is often pretty daunting here, and I have mobility issues.  So, of course I use Amazon and other online sites.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=510999253 Nathan Colpitts

    I only buy on Amazon when I can’t find a book anywhere else. When I DO buy from Amazon I buy it used for as little as possible. The used booksellers seem to be used bookstores using Amazon as a storefront, does that keep the used bookstores afloat? 

  • IsaacWalton

    We live in a small(er) town. There is one Best Buy, Target, and WalMart. There is one specialty camera store in town. The first 3 have NO experts in store and the specialty store expert is not very friendly. So I do my own research online and with other photographers and buy online. Perfect example of why the expert-experience is so important for stores to survive.

  • http://twitter.com/debcowan Debra Cowan

    I am an independent musician and I sell my music through Amazon. When I sell a CD through them I get $7.65 out of a $17.99 sale. I always encourage my listeners to buy directly from the musician, but we do have to have presence on Amazon to be able to get on other online sites like Pandora, etc.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      A no-name musician trying to make a living online. Seems rather self-defeating, no?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        Thanks for the ID, Debra. I’ll be listening out for ya!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1631791436 Suz Carter

    Howard Davidowitz needs to be featured more often … I’m seeing a yummy point-counterpoint kind of thing with Tom Ashbrook, Scott Simon, or Jian Ghomeshi.  “Wal-Mart is a peanut.” – Love him! 
    -Smartitude

  • SeaofLove

    What about all those delivery trucks wearing down our roads, increasing the demand for gas and oil and congesting the streets!  All of this so we can get off the couch and walk to the front door.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julie.c.hussey Julie Cofer Hussey

    We’ve been taught to be consumers for cheap producers – thus consumers for the manufacturing of products with extremely cheap labor and materials.  

    I pray for a future in which we learn to become producers of quality products – quality stores, created by your guest – and by recognizing the value of quality production, we become better consumers who are not just looking for the cheapest upfront costs but the best investment in quality – ie Etsy becomes the flip side to Amazon.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      There is such a huge downside to billions of people consuming only cheap, flimsy stuff ad infinitum. The Texas sized garbage gyre in the Ocean should be a serious warning that we’ve gone way off course in our profligate consumption of – well- garbage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.foster.3956 Matthew Foster

    Local retailers are drowning under the burden of sales tax collection. Wont a point be reached when local governments coffers are dry and something will have to be done?

  • SouthShore1

    Every day I see big delivery trucks on my small street to deliver one package. Has anyone looked at the environmental impacts of people buying what they need on local errands v.s. these constant Amazon-model deliveries?

  • http://twitter.com/blankslatedes blankslatedesign

    I have a balanced approached. There are things that come up to buy that Amazon and their ilk just deliver the best value on. But there are plenty of local shops that I frequent because I make it a point in my value I place on where I live that keeps dollars local (through biz viability, biz taxation) that keep my hometown thriving. That all said, I also have taken an approach that advocates buying more and more on need and less and less on simply want — as evidenced by my television that is now 15 years old and still running well (and I am an architect/graphic designer…so I am prone to gadget infatuation)

  • http://twitter.com/setaspellmedia setaspell media

    as a rural resident and a travelling technition, I see Amazon as more of a shipping agent than a retailer. With my prime subscription I can have a washing machine delivered for free, or a small speciality cable delivered directly to a client. I have saved a tremendous about of time, gas and money in transportation and shipping cost aloneAnd as a bonus I get unlimted streaming of movies, thats hard to beat.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IZNVCETD5RWITJNEDYS7GNYRCU john

    Sounds like a race to the bottom to me.  Low paid Amazon ‘picker’ and other service industry jobs means the “necessity” of low priced Amazon items.  But the same folks used to have a job paying them better money and they could go to a store to buy their needs. 

    Used to be though… “company towns” … the company basically owned the town – many of the homes, stores, and of course you worked for them too. So it was sort of the same thing as Amazon on a smaller scale. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Exactly. I can remember working in a grocery store making so little in wages that I couln’t afford to buy food. I’d serve all these big, fat people in electric “mart-carts” (some were just too heavy to walk) and then have to go home exhausted, skinny & hungry. Bad for morale, bad for health & bad for society in general when more & more workers are demoted to positions like this.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.myers.7503 Andrew Myers

    As more and more people start getting their “stuff” online, then wouldn’t a logical for brick and mortar retail to make a shift toward providing more services rather than products? In the case of booksellers, it might behoove them to think less about selling books, and think more about the broader goal of making literature more accessible to consumers, engaging the market in new and innovative ways that cannot be done over the internet.

  • TinaWrites

    Was it Liza who made so many wonderful comments?  I think it was Liza.  She is speaking from the actual experience of her part of the retail market.  How very different from the two gentlemen who speak from that broader view of economics.  One thing she said that was very compelling was something like this:  We need to have marketS, not just THE market!  That is essentially the same concept that biologists have been trying to get us to accept for decades now:  bio-diversity is the most protective AND vibrant way to go!!  Bullying everyone else out of the way is NOT good:  it leads to dead ends!  Economists need to meet with Biologists and Geneticists to understand before they promote The Market to such an extent that everything falls apart, INCLUDING the environment!  

    On another note:  I am NOT going to buy the art books I love from Amazon:  I MUST see and touch them:  are they really good quality reproductions, etc?  Even the history books I like, I still want to sit with that books and understand if it is the book for me, or, has Amazon excerpted parts of the text that will make me think the book is okay, when, in fact, there is actually a lot of racist stuff thruout the rest of the book.  

    Our own local, small bookstore is increasingly filling their store with gifts and toys.  I don’t call that creative economics — not to the extent to which they are filling the bookshelves with non-books.  THAT doesn’t support books!!!  They do have author readings, but to someone older, who can see it, the store speaks:  we don’t really support books.  I hope they will hear about and pursue this idea about generating extra income from being a “showroom” for some publishers. 

    When did “economic theory” become JUST about making THE MOST money?  Did this happen in just one university and spread from there???  There are lifestyle values that businesses supported for centuries, and now its just all about Making The Most Money.    

  • Erika_SS

    Lost in this is the question of sustainability and Amazon’s role in promoting it — or setting it way back. Lots of brands and store chains have made the sustainability or “green” dimension of what they make and sell a selling point. But that’s lost on the Amazon platform. How green or sustainable a product is is currently invisible there. Or am I just missing it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/roy.nilson.9 Roy Nilson

    How exactly can a small local retailer who chooses to sell online ever hope to figure out how to pay the sales tax for customers from all over the country who might decide to shop online?

  • Marsha Colt

    I agree with Howard Davidowitz regarding get on the band wagon because the internet is there and ready to sell your products.  Kodak did not get on the digital band wagon soon enough and look where they are today. 
    I live where there is no Target, Barnes & Noble, or department stores so internet shopping is the option rather than a 3 hr. drive, 6 hrs. round trip, with high gas prices. There are many of us that do not live in an area with a lot of shopping available and many of us would not live in larger cities so we do what we can locally but that is not always enough so we turn to the internet.

  • KarinMR24

    It all depends on cheap fuel.
     

  • KarinMR24

    All depends on cheap fuel. If cost of shipping goes up, they won’t be as competitive.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QT2SG6YKGEPZT75IGHWHHMFC3Y LaJazza

    From what reports have said, Amazon does not treat its employees well.  Shop local, small businesses support its community with good service and jobs.  Supporting local or purchasing online from brick and mortar shops helps makes our community and our country stronger.

  • StilllHere

    Amazon is great and its growth is testament to it’s customers’ satisfaction.  I think it’s over-the-top crazy that they are talking about same-day delivery but they must see potential demand for it.  Their success says a lot about their ability to statisfy needs that people didn’t know they had. 

    As a customer, I appreciate the way they keep their competitors honest. 

    • vermonter77

      Hi — I tended to agree with your statement, until I read about all the folks whose Amazon accounts had been CLOSED PERMANENTLY — BANNED FROM AMAZON FOR LIFE, without warning — for crossing some unpublished threshold of returns.  That means losing the ability to access your account, use their website, call customer service…and forget about ever downloading or accessing that Kindle content you thought you owned.

      That’s a little bit scary to me…

  • dawoada

    The choices are what I like about buying online.  Two examples:  1.  There are a dozen brands of dishwashing detergent and each brand has several types but only one is rated best by Consumer Reports.  After traveling to several stores and not finding it, I got it from Amazon for a lower price with free delivery.  And a new container comes when ever I specify and which can be changed at any time.

    2.  In choosing pants, they come with different waists, lengths, colors, brands, cuffs or not, belt loops or not, pocket designs, etc.  Any store would have to have thousands of pairs for me to find the one I want.  Instead I go to a store find the brand and size I want and then order online from the same company.  The brick and mortar store only acts as to serve as a sampling place.

    Both of these save much time and money.  

    • sdlt

      Aren’t you being shortsighted? What will you do when the brick and mortor store goes out of business and you have nowhere to go to try on your new pants? 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        It’s been shown that Walmart’s pricing in smalltown America, sans competition, isn’t what it is in suburban America a mile away from a Target.

        Software algorithms for pricing are a big thing for big vendors, e-tail or in person. It’s a big thing of what “efficiency” comes from–not saying that’s good or evil, just that it exists the way it didn’t 50 years ago. And should be treated as such.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000493686178 Mark Alston

    As a retail store owner I understand the concern of other retailers regarding Amazon.  However, as a consumer I get tired of driving all over town to seek out an item to only find out that everyone is out of it or at best can get it for me in a week or two.  Too many retailers have reduced their inventory to only the most popular items.  Amazon gets a lot of my business because they have what I want. Their long tail method of inventory and sales takes care of me.

    Luckily for my retail store the items we sell are cheap and heavy and require support for their usage so I am somewhat insulated.

  • Microbiologistx

    This is a choice.  I CHOOSE to purchase from small local stores.  I love chatting with the shop keepers, knowing that the money I am spending on books, food, gifts or art is going to help support my neighbors.  They in turn, the small shop keepers, often donate goods and services to our community organizations.  This is how our small community runs.  I am not going to bash Amazon, as we have had to twice purchase college text books on-line.  But as for me and mine, we will continue to eat local, shop local and support one another.

    • StilllHere

      I appreciate you not bashing.  If I had 12 more hours in the day and actually enjoyed shopping, I might adopt your habits. 

      • Microbiologistx

        Yup, I hear you.  I am fortunate that I have most weekends off and can hit the farmer’s markets, and local shops.  I am not much of a shopper (I am tight as bark to a tree with my money), but when I have to it goes local.  NOW, if I could get my teenagers to adopt my habits :)  ……

      • nj_v2

        Yep, you wouldn’t want to cut into the amount of time you spend posting dreck in the OnPoint forum.

  • Scott B

    I try to avoid Amazon the same I way I try to avoid Walmart. The problem comes when I can’t get here what I can through Amazon, or when buying from the local places are way over priced and I have to squeeze a nickel so tight the buffalo…welll, you know… 

    A while back On Point had a caller who worked delivering goods for Amazon and he was barely making any money after he figured in gas, etc., so I keep that in mind, too, when I need something.

  • TinaWrites

    For me,  “Amazon is” NOT “a great experience”, for buying books.  How can I tell the quality of the book’s pages and assess the color that is so important when buying art books?  Being ill, I don’t have the stamina to return things easily.  

  • waybac

    I go to my local brick and mortar Barnes and Noble, first. Then, if they couldn’t get the book I want, Powell’s Books gets a phone call or an online search for the book. I’ll order the book from Amazon as a third choice because filling out all the online information seems like more of a hassle than a phone-call, but also I want to foster competition by not allowing every other company to go out of business. Putting the competition out of business is a tactic that has probably been used before. It’s not in the consumers’ interest to let any one company corner the market. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lori.cerny.7 Lori Cerny

    I tried to purchase an in-store treadmill for my elderly father.  The local store did not offer delivery and I would have had to rent a truck besides figuring out how to get the treadmill out of the truck and into my dad’s house.  For a ten dollar delivery charge, it was delivered and placed inside my father’s house… you can’t be the convenience of purchasing online.

    • Regular_Listener

      I bought a computer online a couple of years ago.  After getting it out and setting it up, I realized it had some annoying features (like an on/off switch that I immediately disliked) that were not what I had hoped for and had not seen in the pictures.  I plugged it in and…zap!  The whole thing shut down, never to restart.  I contacted the retailer, who at first told me it was not their problem, and that I would have to take it up with the manufacturer.  So then I had to lean on them pretty hard and make threats before they would take it back.  They sent me another one, and… the same thing happened!  Finally, a techie explained to me that the computer was not compatible with my home’s (old) electrical system, and that I needed to buy a voltage regulator.  By this time I had enough.  I returned it for a refund, and went out and bought another computer – at a local electronics store.  That one worked fine.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FDAMZDSYFW2WZ3SWC2WZKUKL5M Andrew Page

    I’m sort of confused as to how amazon is maintaining dominance in the E-publishing market.  There are several well distributed ebook formats(mobi) that can be read by the kindle as well as iPods/iPads/androids, smaller server space is getting cheaper by the day($11-$20/month currently) so a small press for a small investment can have an e-book presence for a couple hundred dollars a year.   

       What might be lacking is a ‘meta-server’ paradigm where many small publishers are aggregated onto a single site

  • Regular_Listener

    Really interesting show, thanks again.  For me what really jumped out here – not that the ongoing story of Amazon’s efforts to dominate online retailing is not interesting – was Howard Davidowitz’s no-nonsense and well-informed commentary, and particularly how dire a picture he paints of the current economy and retail situation!  And it doesn’t look like 2013 will bring much relief, does it?

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