Lots of noise around Amazon’s moves on AI, Whole Foods, entertainment, and move, and how they are driving success while the retail giants fall. Even more noise about their efficient dynamic pricing models, endless marketplace inventory, and ease of Prime 1-Click shipping. And when you have Prime, the unlimited everything they include provides so much value, it’s like you don’t need anything else.
Or do you need something else?
I was in a good debate on LinkedIn about the Walmart and Amazon pricing models, and it made me look back and think about my experience with Amazon — and I realized that I haven’t ordered anything from there in weeks. Part of it has been a bit of a conscious decision but part of it has been an unconscious passive migration to other shops because I don’t find the value in what they deliver.
Here’s why I don’t shop on Amazon.
It’s too easy. Amazon shopping is quick, easy, and surgical. I need some new hair product, boom, 1-click and done. There’s no friction and the only delay is the two-day turnaround for shipping. But I find myself missing the surprise and delight and discovery of an in-store shopping experience where I find and touch new things and leave with more than I planned, but items that were never on my list.
I like surprise, delight, and discovery. I love Target. Unlike Amazon, going to Target is an experience. Grab a Starbucks, a cart, stop here and there, see something new, put a six pack of beer in your cart, check out the iPhone X, etc. Every time I shop, I find something new, maybe buy something a little extra. I like the surprise and delight in the discovery. Amazon tries to recommend me things, but they are all derivative — never new and interesting.
Delivery is too slow. Two-day shipping was a revelation. Amazing that this could be for free. But I have to plan ahead. And sometimes I can’t. When I want something right now, I drive there. Increasingly and now always, Amazon’s Prime promise of 2-day shipping has been missed by 1–2 days. In fact, now it’s completely unreliable (and I’m in the 4th largest city in the US — 5 miles from an Amazon distribution center). The unreliability is my critical issue, but in companion with the need for items when I want them, I make the store trip.
The inventory is inadequate. I search. And I search. And I search. Lots of searching on Amazon to find what I want. Or a version of what I want because they don’t have that brand on Prime or it’s more than it was last time since it’s from another marketplace partner. The inconsistency in the availability along with the dynamic pricing along with the lack of brands that I care about puts me back at the search box…and then off to Target to find what I want.
I don’t care that I get unlimited* digital content. Unlimited has an asterisk because they include video, music, photo storage, etc but it’s not really unlimited. If I want Music, I have to pay more — but I like Apple Music better. And if I want good content, I’d rather go to Netflix and Hulu because I find the library and original content much better. And I don’t watch Twitch. If I want an Audible book, I’ll buy it and not subscribe. Storage plans have changed 5x since I started so I just moved everything to Dropbox because it’s consistent, faster and much easier. I already spoke to thoughts on shipping benefits above. So what’s left in Prime that matters? Nothing really. A consumer can get a ton of extra benefits ‘included’ for the Prime subsidy, but if I don’t use them, they don’t matter. I can find better elsewhere. And if I drop Prime…that $109 per year can pay for my other bundle of services completely.
I like small businesses. Unlike me, lots of people love Amazon. While I’m moving away, more are joining. Meanwhile small businesses are being damaged. It’s not about innovation or their lack of effort — it’s too hard to catch up now. So if you care about small businesses, you need to shop them. Etsy, Instagram businesses, local shops, and others need our support or they will die. I’d rather take a few extra minutes out of my day to bring back the ‘browse’ in a local store then just turn-and-burn in a 1-Click that only satisfies your instant need.
Amazon is easy, simple, fast, and convenient. However, in February when my subscription comes up, I won’t renew my Amazon Prime. I’m sure it provides incredible value to someone, but in light of how it misses the mark for what I need and care about, and in light of the swath of retail destruction that is discouraging innovation and diversity in the shopping experience — I will watch Amazon for business reasons and admire the growth, but I will not miss the cold, transaction experience that is destroying the joy of shopping and moving all of us closer to mere selfish consumption.
If you like this, find me on Twitter and LinkedIn as @tuckross