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Trying to move away from Amazon, but other sellers need to catch up

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  • Trying to move away from Amazon, but other sellers need to catch up

    < This is just me venting, so feel free to skip to the next thread if you are not in the mood for it >

    I don't have anything personal against Amazon, and in fact am a heavy user - they have every inventory listed, their website is extremely efficient and their search engine works fantastic.

    That said, I think Amazon has grown too big for a single company, and I want to do my bit boosting other sellers by trying to purchase from places other than Amazon.

    But many of those sellers have not done a good job about how their websites are set up. After all these years of seeing Amazon and some other web leaders, I would think anybody who wants to be competitive should know their online presence is so vital.

    And while 'Shipping' is the first factor that crops up, it's not even the only one. I agree that not everyone can compete with Amazon on shipping costs and speed, so I am willing to be lenient on this - I am fine getting my order next week instead of tomorrow, and I'm okay spending a few dollars on shipping. A few dollars, not a huge lot!

    But there are other things that bug me, and I will use a few examples.

    Last week I steered into McFeelys.com for a few small screws and driver bits. While placing the order I could never figure out how long it will take to ship, or when it would deliver to me (on the product page it said "in stock, will ship in a day or two", but when on the order-click page, this was not reaffirmed). I went with blind faith and clicked on buy; the order went in okay, but I did not receive my confirmation till the next day! And even then, I had to wait till it shipped to get a follow up message about the shipping. Worst was that when I received the order today, I find that the driver bit I ordered will not work with the screws in the order! The screws have a square-driver head of #1, but the driver-bit I ordered is #2 square. Yes, my fault for not checking, but I wish they have a 'related purchases' or something like that crops up that would have made this an easy purchase. To compare, try searching 'screws' on Amazon: a beautiful matrix of "filter" comes up that allows me to narrow down rapidly, which is totally missing on McFeely (which happens to be a specialty site for screws!).

    I like McFeely in general - their driver bits look and feel solid (unlike the ones from HD that stripped pretty fast), and they provide a pretty wide choice, so I will not give up on them, but they have work to do.

    Then again today I was trying to find some parts to fix my Kohler faucet on their website, then on the websites of HomeDepot / Lowes, but I had an easier job finding my specific faucet, and then the specific parts, on Amazon than on any of the other sites. Amazon also has a "check if this part fits your faucet" widget that is priceless.

    There are more such examples but you get the idea. At the very least a smaller shop should try and copy Amazon?

    While here, a shout-out for Rockler.com : they definitely have a much better website than others. They might be the only site that provides more info on each product than even Amazon does. Their search is still a bit kludgy, but I can forgive them that!
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    - Aristotle

  • #2
    Amazons web site experience beats all others Hands down. And fast shipping and easy returns at neighborhood stores. I'm also trapped once i pay for prime. Essentially unlimited shipping prepaid. Yeah other sites have their work cut out for them.

    I must say Amazon is not resting on its laurels. Its website is mostly on continuing improvement and its delivery services is usually quite good. Its volume is so high that it makes it easy to spread development and improvement efforts over a lot of sales. Lesser competitors it will cost an impossible amount to catch up.

    They even have a button on each item so you can flag them when you see incorrect information on the item description. What other retailer cares about that?
    Last edited by LCHIEN; Today, 12:47 AM.
    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

    Comment


    • radhak
      radhak commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, that Prime membership is an addiction - once in, very difficult to ignore or gloss over...

  • #3
    I'm about in the same boat as you are. I love Amazon, have not had a single problem with them and seem to be buying more and more and more through Amazon channels. I go to local stores almost every day, and except for groceries I am finding increased frustration on almost every store visit. Ill-mannered people, store management is never there, and employee's who are underpaid and frustrated. Very limited stock and all too often the everyday things I am looking to purchase is out of stock and/or the employee doesn't know anything about it or when it will be in. Walmart is especially bad at either of the two stores in our area.

    So, I think about the responsibility I might have to move away from Amazon or expanding my shopping at Amazon and I find it almost impossible to do so. One example is books, we buy a lot of books and though there is a Barnes & Noble only two miles away, the books are a mess, higher priced, the staff tries to help, but have limited to no knowledge. (And I find too many books that have been pre-read by other shoppers, while they enjoy their coffee and pastry in the coffee shop area.... YUK!). So I buy my books from Amazon, where there's great reviews, good descriptions, and really prompt delivery. And should I receive a book that is a bit crumpled because of poor handling, Amazon promptly gives me a return label and ships me a replacement.

    But still the effort is made to shop elsewhere. I've had good luck with Adorama and Newegg for photo and electronic gear, and locally my Staples store is good for hardware like printers, scanners, etc. Beyond that, I keep finding myself back at Amazon.

    CWS
    Think it Through Before You Do!

    Comment


    • #4
      Yes, that reminds me - local stores have long given up trying to compete. My best Toilet purchases have been from Amazon, not the local HD or Lowes! Yes, toilets, the one thing you might expect these stores to have ample of!
      Two years ago I replaced both toilets, and could not find the exact types I wanted locally, but Amazon delivered. I find it odd that HD has only white toilets. Any other color - even beige - need to be ordered from their website, and might take 2 or 3 weeks to deliver. I might as well shop around online then!
      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
      - Aristotle

      Comment


      • #5
        Although I haven't travelled in a year for work, I used to travel every week and come home on Fridays for the weekend. I could do my shopping from the hotel via Amazon and have what I needed at home when I got there without having to waste time. I haven't been to Target in years since there is nothing they have that isn't available on Amazon.

        Even better than Amazon, my local small town lumberyard, before I moved, would deliver whatever I needed with just an email or a phone call, had competitive prices, and would just send a bill at the end of the month. The delivery guys would even unload everything where I specified, including carrying sheetrock into the basement. I do still shop online and in person at Rockler and Woodcraft and online only at McFeelys, and Festoolproducts.com I also spend thousands a year a Menards both online and in store.

        What I find sad is that Sears and Montgomery Wards had the infrastructure in place to trounce Amazon before it even got off the ground, but like Kodak missing out on digital cameras, neither one of them saw the future and killed their catalog sales just before the internet became popular.
        Chr's
        __________
        An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
        A moral man does it.

        Comment


        • #6
          twistsol,

          Sears! It is almost criminal what happened to that company. My late FIL spent almost his entire life working at Sears, and for more that four decades was the hardware manager at the Binghamton, NY store. The man knew his stuff, knew every single product and how to use it and would spend whatever time was needed to help customers. Every employee in his department was trained and every time they had a new product he'd spend a early mornings making sure they knew everything about it.

          When I married into the family in 1967, it was one of my great delights to have this guy as my friend and FIL. He had two days off a week, Sunday and Wednesday and I had the privilege to occasionally go with him on Wednesdays to visit someone who needed a little help with there new saw. He always enjoyed that little extra help a customer might need on a new purchase.

          But Sears changed starting back in the late 80's. They dropped their "6%'rs". Sales people who earned 6% commission on their sales. Sears also moved to what they called "20th Century" sales, where they allegedly printed all the information on the product box, dropped their in-store demonstrations, and cut back on the sales staff. They stacked the products higher, a corralled the larger tools into a crowded area where you really couldn't get much of a demo from the sales person. They did away with loosed hardware and started plastic containers of hardware that costed a lot more. And then they started dividing up items between the store and "catalog", as if the two departments were in competition with each other.

          I remember buying a torque wrench, that came in a cardboard carton, but I couldn't get the plastic case for it, because that had to be procured through "catalog". Lots of other nonsense like that. I remember going to the store to buy house paint and they didn't have the "antique white" that I needed and was told that they no longer mix paint or match colors. (Like WTH, every paint store that I knew of "mixed and matched". Not my local Sears! I went to buy a lawn shed and looking at the display I picked out the one I wanted, but the price advertised on the shed door was "wrong"... that was for a smaller model the salesman told me. After that, I started buying from Corning Building company, which had it's act together. (That same shed was more than a $100 cheaper, albeit in a different color.

          My FIL decided to retire about that time. He said that the changes were so drastic, it just frustrated him to come to work. I think a year or two later he couldn't stand to even go into the store. Everything was a mess, disorganized, empty shelves, etc.

          It was soon after that, that Sears CEO started selling off bits and pieces. Corning, where I then lived, closed it's catalog store and the nearest was in Horseheads at the Arnot Mall. They were always out of stock on one thing or another, by the 90's their products turned cheap. Screw dirvers were no longer chromed, **** they weren't even tempered properly. I bought and returned two Craftsman compressors before I got one that didn't leak, and it was so loud you couldn't be anywhere near it without doubling your ear protection and warning the neighbors. By 2000 or so, they were selling off parts of the operation, had merged with K-Mart, and thinking of putting the Craftsman name in any store that would except it. I'd go into the local mall store and find all the salesmen standing around talking to each other, but helpful, only rarely. That's about the time I started buying Ryobi and Ridgid from Home Depot.

          Our Sears store here in Binghamton closed a few years ago. Back in the 70's and 80's that was a prize store, especially the hardware dept. My FIL had dozens of awards, outselling almost every store this side of Chicago. People would drive down from Syracuse and Rochester to by from him. That's all old history now and today "Sears" in our area is just as sad memory.

          Just think, at one time Sears had everything necessary, in place and ready with their catalog enterprise. They had the media, artwork, photographers, and countless advertising and distribution personnel that could distribute nationwide and because of a lack of foresight and imagination, it all went into oblivion.

          CWS
          Last edited by cwsmith; 06-10-2021, 08:10 PM.
          Think it Through Before You Do!

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by cwsmith View Post
            twistsol,

            Sears! It is almost criminal what happened to that company. My late FIL spent almost his entire life working at Sears, and for more that four decades was the hardware manager at the Binghamton, NY store. The man knew his stuff, knew every single product and how to use it and would spend whatever time was needed to help customers. Every employee in his department was trained and every time they had a new product he'd spend a early mornings making sure they knew everything about it.

            When I married into the family in 1967, it was one of my great delights to have this guy as my friend and FIL. He had two days off a week, Sunday and Wednesday and I had the privilege to occasionally go with him on Wednesdays to visit someone who needed a little help with there new saw. He always enjoyed that little extra help a customer might need on a new purchase.

            But Sears changed starting back in the late 80's. They dropped their "6%'rs". Sales people who earned 6% commission on their sales. Sears also moved to what they called "20th Century" sales, where they allegedly printed all the information on the product box, dropped their in-store demonstrations, and cut back on the sales staff. They stacked the products higher, a corralled the larger tools into a crowded area where you really couldn't get much of a demo from the sales person. They did away with loosed hardware and started plastic containers of hardware that costed a lot more. And then they started dividing up items between the store and "catalog", as if the two departments were in competition with each other.

            I remember buying a torque wrench, that came in a cardboard carton, but I couldn't get the plastic case for it, because that had to be procured through "catalog". Lots of other nonsense like that. I remember going to the store to buy house paint and they didn't have the "antique white" that I needed and was told that they no longer mix paint or match colors. (Like WTH, every paint store that I knew of "mixed and matched". Not my local Sears! I went to buy a lawn shed and looking at the display I picked out the one I wanted, but the price advertised on the shed door was "wrong"... that was for a smaller model the salesman told me. After that, I started buying from Corning Building company, which had it's act together. (That same shed was more than a $100 cheaper, albeit in a different color.

            My FIL decided to retire about that time. He said that the changes were so drastic, it just frustrated him to come to work. I think a year or two later he couldn't stand to even go into the store. Everything was a mess, disorganized, empty shelves, etc.

            It was soon after that, that Sears CEO started selling off bits and pieces. Corning, where I then lived, closed it's catalog store and the nearest was in Horseheads at the Arnot Mall. They were always out of stock on one thing or another, by the 90's their products turned cheap. Screw dirvers were no longer chromed, **** they weren't even tempered properly. I bought and returned two Craftsman compressors before I got one that didn't leak, and it was so loud you couldn't be anywhere near it without doubling your ear protection and warning the neighbors. By 2000 or so, they were selling off parts of the operation, had merged with K-Mart, and thinking of putting the Craftsman name in any store that would except it. I'd go into the local mall store and find all the salesmen standing around talking to each other, but helpful, only rarely. That's about the time I started buying Ryobi and Ridgid from Home Depot.

            Our Sears store here in Binghamton closed a few years ago. Back in the 70's and 80's that was a prize store, especially the hardware dept. My FIL had dozens of awards, outselling almost every store this side of Chicago. People would drive down from Syracuse and Rochester to by from him. That's all old history now and today "Sears" in our area is just as sad memory.

            Just think, at one time Sears had everything necessary, in place and ready with their catalog enterprise. They had the media, artwork, photographers, and countless advertising and distribution personnel that could distribute nationwide and because of a lack of foresight and imagination, it all went into oblivion.

            CWS
            This reads like a classic tragedy!

            Unbelievable that Jeff Bezos thought up the very existence of Amazon from thin air at the same time that this huge enterprise was already in place! They could have seamlessly moved into the online world leveraging their existing infrastructure, and Amazon would have had to struggle to get a toe-hold there. Truly every era brings out a new hero, and Sears did not have one when they had the need.
            It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
            - Aristotle

            Comment


            • #8
              Hard to believe that Stanley Black and Decker paid $900 million for the Craftsman name and logo. Hard to see how they are going to recoup it.

              Craftsman as a result is no longer the premier name and exclusive product in a widely known and located chain store. Its attraction was quality and instant on the spot warranty with all stores carrying a large inventory of the whole line.
              Now its in several chain stores but the impact is diluted because those stores not only carry besides Craftsman, a store brand, and other (including Stanley) competing brands and don't usually have a full catalog of Craftsman items nor is it easy to get instant on-site warranty from most of them. I don't think the cachet of having a shop full of Craftsman only tools is an attractive thing to DIYers and home shops anymore.
              Loring in Katy, TX USA
              If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
              BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

              Comment


              • #9
                I too have been shifting away from Amazon when possible, partially for reasons suggested by radhak. But I have another significant reason. I've noticed recently that Amazon seems to have reached a point where they have enough business that they are in "boosting profits" mode. I perceive that because whereas in the past, Amazon was competitive, or at a lower price than competitors. Lately I have found they were often more costly than the competition.

                Sure, Amazon gave me (a non-Prime shopper) me free shipping. But I could order the same item elsewhere, pay $3 to $6 for shipping, and still be cheaper than Amazon with their "free shipping". Has anybody else noticed this?

                Comment


                • #10
                  Amazon is not always the best price. Like everything, you have to shop, and that matters for both price and quality. But they are quite competitive and especially so when it comes to service. We made our first purchase from Amazon way back in 2002, just two items for our grandsons when they were little. I couldn't find those items locally. Over the next three or four years, our purchases were minor for the same basic reason, but as time passed we found our purchases increasing, pretty much for the same reason and finally about eight or nine years ago, I joined Prime, it just made sense.

                  But, on occasion I've found Amazon to be more expensive than local. Like everything, it's a matter of who has the best price and certainly the seller may have other sources that made a better deal and are passing that on to prospective customers.

                  For example, right now I can get Wrangler jeans locally at Walmart for almost half the price of Amazon and the quality is better. In the past I've purchased photo equipment out of NYC (Adorama or B&H), the price is often cheaper and Amazon is not an authorized dealer.. Same with photo lighting equipment, I get a much better deal through Newegg, and their service is pretty decent and the selection much larger.

                  Amazon sells a lot of stuff directly, but their larger sales is through through partners and therein can be some challenges. Amazon sellers are not necessarily the best source, although most are pretty darn good.

                  What I do like about Amazon is that returns are easy. I buy a book and it arrives with crumpled corners because they threw it in a box without any packing, it get returned. Usually that happens in just a few minutes after I open the box, fill out the "return", receive a label that I print and within the hour it's dropped off at my nearby UPS store. Often, I don't even have to re-box it. By that afternoon I've received credit confirmation. Then there's things like today, I could not find 'kitchen trash bags locally'. Both my Walmart's were out of stock, the three local grocery stores had only perfumed bags and none of the size I wanted. So, I ordered them from Amazon this past Tuesday; they arrived today, but were different than described, so I filled out the return and they told me to just keep them and they refunded my purchase cost. It's hard to beat that kind of service!

                  My biggest problem with purchasing larger items from Amazon is simply shipping. Anything of weight or size will too often arrive damaged. UPS, USPS, and even Federal Express seem to have lost any ability to handle even medium-sized boxes. For example, last year I made three attempts to purchase a laminator through Amazon, all three arrived damaged. I went to my local Staples! Honestly, I wouldn't think of ordering a laptop, scanner, or printer. For those kinds of things, I buy from Staples and have always gotten a great price and good service. (I recently purchased a Brother duplex color laser printer and got it for a $100 less than I could get it on Amazon or any other internet source.)

                  CWS
                  Think it Through Before You Do!

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Yes, you have to be careful with Amazon prices. I often find things - the identical item- cheaper at HD, lowes or eBay. Price shopping is a really good idea.
                    Loring in Katy, TX USA
                    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      I have been lucky with Amazon's shipping - only once was the order damaged enough for me to return it; this was the Jet AFS-1000B Air Filtration system, and they not only sent me another, but also gave me a huge discount for the inconvenience!

                      Otherwise, I have ordered a huge color laser printer, bathroom vanities, toilets, expensive camera gear and even a chandelier, and never found anything damaged or missing in the shipment.

                      I really prefer buying local, even if the price is marginally higher. I like to touch and see before buying, particularly clothes, shoes and stuff. Given a choice I would opt to jump into my car and drive up to the store and come back with whatever I needed. The problem is local inventory is becoming far too limited in choice. Online sellers have the advantage of being able to ship from any warehouse across the country, so they can offer wider variety. Still, if HD could ensure a shipping time of, say, a week, I would opt for a product that I could actually touch (and only wanted a different color, say). But HD nowadays has shipping times of multiple weeks for some items, and that's a problem.

                      But I really worry about Amazon lording it over other online sellers by offering the best experience. If they don't look out, if they don't improve how well their websites are managed, many more will join the fate of Sears.
                      Last edited by radhak; 06-15-2021, 07:53 AM.
                      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
                      - Aristotle

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        "they have every inventory listed, their website is extremely efficient and their search engine works fantastic.

                        That said, I think Amazon has grown too big for a single company, and I want to do my bit boosting other sellers by trying to purchase from places other than Amazon."

                        I think you just answered why Amazon has become "too" big. They just simply have fantastic service all around. I have never once been on the dirty end of the stick with them, no matter what, things get handled. Problems have occurred, but they always take care of it instantly. And problems are super rare, shipping is predictable. I hate the unknown of many other sellers' inventory and shipping. I pretty much never have something damaged with them, because they don't use Fedex, and Fedex is the king of crappy shipping and damages.

                        Amazon is often not cheaper. But just simply more reliable. I recently found something $5 cheaper at HD, looked at the site, said it was in stock. Drive there...nope. So I ordered from Amazon while in the parking lot of HD, and had it in six hours. Meanwhile I've wasted my time and gas (well, electrons, I drove our Tesla there) for nothing. Another one is something I bought a couple years ago, and am still peeved about. It was $300 on Amazon and $260 from a small online store. I took the small one, partly for price, partly to support small business. Well, the product really sucks. It does the job, but takes way too much effort and sucks to use IMO. No returns. If it were Amazon, I'd just put it in a box and UPS would pick it up.

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Not exactly along the Amazon thread, but… Lowe’s online inventory said 3 in store! Rather than order from Amazon for the same price, Off I go to pick up my part, but it couldn’t be found anywhere. Does that surprise anyone? Strange though, a helpful employee rolled up a ladder and found the “missing” inventory 18 feet above the floor. I purchased one and just for laughs I called up the web site that showed 3 on stock, and before my eyes it change to 2 items on stock after 5 minutes my sale.
                          Now I know that this is how a modern computerized sales and inventory control system is suppose to operate, but I’ve never seen this to be the case at Lowe’s.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            I've had exactly the same experience at Lowe's, with some high dollar and just-released Dewalt item. He said they won't sell a lot, so they are just stashed away.

                            I just ran a report on my Amazon purchases...I've spent over $200,000 there since 1999. I do quite a bit of purchasing for business too, that's probably 30% of it, just guessing.

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