Zacharias ๐Ÿ Voulgaris

4 months ago ยท 2 min. reading time ยท visibility ~10 ยท

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Is Amazon Truly the Best Option? Maybe in the US, but What about Other Countries?

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This image was purchased from Amazon. Just kidding! Got it from pixabay.com

I've been an Amazon user for years. Hell, I even have an Amazon credit card, one that I've used even after I stopped ordering stuff from Jeff Bezos' online store. Still, once I moved outside the US, and after I've learned about the swindle that the company pulled during the lockdown period, I've grown skeptical about it. I'd only use it as a final resort for things of immediate necessity. The fact that the online markets in this country arenโ€™t on par with the North American ones makes e-shopping a challenge and sometimes an expensive experience.

Lately, I've decided to invest in a piece of hardware. It's a bit of a specialized device, along with some accessories for it, but it's not so niched that you think it extra-terrestrial! So, after doing my due diligence, I decided upon a particular model and set out to buy the thing. I've searched high and low, but it seems that the only viable option for stuff like that was the local Amazon site. It seemed quite affordable too, plus the site offered several relevant products to buy as part of a bundle. So, I was at the online checkout, ready to get my card for the payment, when I noticed something on the page. The delivery for that product was going to be in a few days, even if the accessories were going to arrive promptly (that company is so eco-friendly and thoughtful, isn't it?). Also, shipping was extra, and the whole thing was going to cost me 10% more than I had thought at first. Not a big deal, but didn't this invalidate the rationale of choosing Amazon in the first place?

So, I looked around a bit, and it turns out that this company that manufactures this product and several of its accessories has three local authorized distributors. All of these sites feature the same product but at a substantially lower price. I decided to go with one of them, while once I make the order, I'm going to save 15% from my original budget. Additionally, I'm going to get an extra accessory that's more important than I thought (it has to do with the power supply, which I thought I could wing by using a conventional phone charger).

I write all this not to show how Italian e-commerce sites are the bomb (actually, they have lots of room for improvement). I decided on this article to show that sometimes the obvious choice isn't always the best, at least when it comes to buying stuff online. Of course, Amazon has the slickest interface and user experience than most e-commerce sites for general-purpose shopping. But whether it's the optimal choice is something debatable. What are your thoughts and experiences on this matter? Cheers

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I purchase most everything online, especially now due to the unrest in this country. I have Amazon Prime and very rarely have I had problems with delivery. I like that I can read reviews, and feel many are bonafide. If I see one negative review that makes sense, I move on. Plus. Amazon is not the cheapest, by any means but it's the convenience that makes it worthwhile for me. With that said, I agree our local businesses deserve our support. 

OMG @Zacharias ๐Ÿ Voulgaris and @Javier ๐Ÿ CR , don't get me started on the trouble with Amazon and Ali Express! Too late. I'll tell you what I thinkโ€ฆ

I have a little toy business that focuses on providing sexual aids for people with disabilities. The needs of adults with physical and intellectual disabilities rarely get met and this, at the very least, exacerbates problems with their physical and mental health. I have a soft spot for people who live with disabilities, so I wanted to give them an outlet to have this basic human need met with dignity and safety.

I started a drop shipping business so I wouldn't have to spend money on stock I cannot turn over. I built a website on Shopify and found suppliers on Ali Express. So much selection and really cheap, too. Many vendors say the shipping times are 7-10 days. Not bad considering the margin it will give me. I ordered a few products to test the quality and the delivery time. It's a good thing I did that first. The products were sub standard, looked much better in the pictures. The product descriptions are very useless, so you really don't know what you are buying until you receive it. Sometimes, you don't receive the product, or you receive it months later, or it doesn't work.  I took all my Ali Express product off my site and found a Canadian supplier who will offer drop shipping service. 

The Chinese products had no product codes, so I couldn't list them on Amazon, but since I now had a Canadian distributor, I thought I would be able to list my products on Amazon and that would help drive business as well. That's what I thought. Amazon charges a fee of more than 21% plus, a fixed fee on each item you sell. If you have a professional account, you are charged a monthly fee of $39 USD just to have your listing there and a little more flexibility with your sales dashboard, and a few other little perks that should help, but don't. You still need to advertise on Amazon to get your listing to the top, but they will keep competing with you, unless you have a FBA account, where you buy a bunch of stock and keep it in their warehouse for a fee, plus other fees. Add shipping costs to your product and you will be in the hole every month!

I wanted to try it to see what would happen, just the same, so listed about 45 different products on Amazon for about 4 months and not one item sold. That's really a blessing. I deleted them all yesterday. 

My website requires me to drive about 200,000 Canadian adults (they don't have to have a disability to use the products) to my store every month in order to make a living. Postage in Canada is ridiculously expensive and Amazon offers free or cheap shipping on everything, so I still have to be able to compete with them. If I cast a wider net and add Americans or countries to my target audience, the shipping costs will cause me to lose money.  

I paused my website because this doesn't seem to be a worthwhile endeavor at all. I will likely close it down, unless I can figure out a way to make more than $10 a month. 

I did think seriously about white labeling toys and selling wholesale. That idea is not lost. I am busy moving and doing other things right now, so I'll get back to it later. I'd have to go back to working with Chinese companies. That comes with a lot of challenges because they are not known for their integrity, and I don't want to support their economy any more than I need to. I will try to find an American or some other company to work with at a later date when I have more time to think about it.

Javier ๐Ÿ CR

4 months ago #4

Javier ๐Ÿ CR

4 months ago #2

On the other hand, Amazon is a real threat to any business that sells on Amazon, because what they do is when they see which product sells a lot of whatever company it is, they position their own amazon white label product and displace it. In other words, first it gives you sales, then it drowns you out by competing with you.

But this is the typical practice of any monopoly. In practice the internet is dominated by 3 companies, and the others eat from the rest.

Javier ๐Ÿ CR

4 months ago #1

Amazon sweeps all before it. The main problem I see in Spain with its competitors is the delivery time and the user experience, which is infinitely better than in the rest.

This is the case of El Corte Inglรฉs in Spain, which has been the undisputed leader for the last decades. The reason for this undisputed leadership was based on an unbeatable service, impeccable delivery, exquisite treatment and you could always return the product. However, with the growth of online shopping "thanks to covid" this has changed. People are buying more and more online. I have tried to buy online through El Corte Inglรฉs, and the times I have done so the user experience has been tremendously negative. They have failed to take advantage of their offline leadership opportunity to position themselves online, even before Amazon. But in the end, because of this, I always go back to Amazon.

Aliexpress, its Chinese competitor in Spain, has made a strong entrance but the delivery times are not the same, and it does not show signs of having the same reliability, although it is possibly just a matter of brand awareness.

I hope and pray that Amazon will have real local competitors, for everyone's sake.

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