I have been an Amazon customer for a while. A while? For a decade at least. While trying to place an order last night I’ve noticed just how much harder Amazon is working to nudge (read: shove) customers to get Prime. This isn’t news, but as someone who places an order every 2-3 months, the changes are noticeable.
A few things I noticed on my way to checkout:
- Estimated delivery that ends up being a wide range of dates, with the end one a few weeks out. My last few orders have all arrived very near or on that end date. Even a promise of 5-8 business days for shipping somehow take weeks to prep for shipping. Also, the estimated dates only appear on the last page of the checkout, making it frustrating to understand which item is holding the shipment back.
- The increase over time of the minimal required order to get that free shipping. It’s now a $50 order or $25 if buying books. Then there are add-ons that don’t count towards the total, or buying from sellers that are not Amazon that it ends up being a challenge just to meet that minimum.
- The buying options don’t always make sense. The top one may be Amazon, but with a higher price than others, or it could be a seller with their own extra shipping cost, or it can be a seller, but fulfilled by Amazon. Buyers need to pay attention.
- Shipping costs that don’t make sense considering the size of the item sold and transit time. Another punishment for non-Prime customers.,
- Changing item costs between sessions, sometimes significantly.
- Sudden, last minute “no longer in stock” items dropped from cart during checkout and not available from other sellers.
- Impossible search with an overwhelming amount of irrelevant results that require vigilance as Amazon removes filters applied in previous searches (such as limiting sellers.)
I’m guessing that Amazon isn’t deliberately trying to antagonize customers. It is just optimizing the browsing and checkout process to increase purchase sums and sign up more customers to Prime, just like Pinterest is fine with irritating users because ultimately it increases engagement even as it drives away some, less loyal users. Amazon’s data-driven product decisions must make sense to them.
So, if Amazon just irritates me every time I try to complete a purchase, why am I still a customer? Well, I have started buying some products on other specially sites, but overall, Amazon usually has everything and if they don’t, they have a seller who does. Jet, the best alternative, doesn’t have such a range of products.
Yet the answer to why not Jet is not just laziness. When writing this post I realized that I go to Amazon because I almost always have a gift card balance that I need to use. An Amazon gift card, it seems, is an easy gift as the giver knows the recipient can find something they like there. It’s also an easy way for overseas friends to send a gift – for them, all that’s needed is a credit card. Amazon has made getting a gift card very easy.
Bottom line: Amazon doesn’t need my (product) love to keep me as a customer. And it knows it. Jet, please accept my apologies for never getting around to giving you a chance.