Amazon.com, call it by any other name, would it not still taste as sweet?
from the September-3,-1999 dept
I’m no newbie to online shopping, having spent easily over $5,000 on online purchases since 1995. Thus far I have confined myself to e-stores whose reputations I knew from positive press, recommendations, or brick and mortar experience. But last week…
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Friends of the Revolution by Derek Kerton What's in an e-commerce site? Amazon.com, call it by any other name, would it not still taste as sweet? Idon't think so. I'm no newbie to online shopping, having spent easily over $5,000 on online purchases since 1995. Thus far I have confined myself to e-stores whose reputations I knew from positive press, recommendations, or brick and mortar experience. But last week, while shopping for a desktop phone, my wife suggested I use CNet's comparison shopping tool, shopper.com. Sure enough, shopper.com showed me that I could save $30 if I bought from Programmer's Paradise, an outfit on the East coast. "Well, I've never heard of them," I said, "but thirty bucks is thirty bucks." I ordered with two day land delivery and printed my confirmation receipt. Five days later, we called to see where the phone was, and the response was "That product has been cancelled." We asked what that meant - was the "product cancelled" or just our order, is it delayed, annulled, on backorder, and were we billed? She repeated "The product has been cancelled" and got annoyed at our questions. We concluded that our order was "most likely" cancelled, and mentioned that it would have been swell if they had notified us using the email address we gave. She became more annoyed. I hung up and bought the phone from buy.com. Well, it doesn't take too many experiences like that before net shoppers will learn to stick with the etailers they trust. The proliferation of cheap but lousy web stores is eventually helping those big stores with good reputations and brand identities. Jesse Berst at ZDNet predicted a e-tail shakedown and consolidation in his column this week. It used to be that pundits predicted brand was dead on the web, that price would soon be all that matters - hogwash! A quality brand on the web will keep shoppers coming back. Amazon can charge more for the same book than its no-name online competition because of their quality brand. Quality of service matters MORE on the web that in the old world. If I saw my phone on the shelf at Target and also at Bloomindale's, you bet your ass I'd buy it at Target. Sure the Bloomingdale staff are available to answer questions, and will wrap it up in a nice bag. But at either store I would walk out with the same phone so why pay more? Fulfillment (getting the product to the customer) is a non-issue in brick and mortar. But online, oh my, is fulfillment ever an issue: orders never shipped, never received, shipped twice, shipped late, out of stock, held up in customs... Sound familiar? What about if instead of dropping in, you phoned Target and Bloomies to ship the phone to you? Would you think twice about buying at Target now? ...A-ha. It's the McDonald's model all over again. When you drive into a new town with a hunger on, you see all sorts of independent restaurant's front-ends from the street. The inside is a mystery. Is the restaurant clean, is the food good, or even safe? How's the service? You won't know unless you go inside and order. That's analogous to an e-commerce operation. You can see the front-end (meaning the web pages,) but you have no idea what goes on behind the facade. In the case of restaurants, you KNOW some of them are good but you also know that some of them are really bad. What do you do? You go to McD's. You may not love it, but you know the place from front to back and the OK quality is assured. Quality doesn't even have to be superior - just *consistenly* OK!! Do you ever go to McD's in your hometown? Hell, no! You know the independent restaurants there, and you frequent those which are good. The difference with the web is: It just ain't your hometown. PS: I'm taking bets on whether Programmer's Paradise bills me or not...
Comments on “Amazon.com, call it by any other name, would it not still taste as sweet?”
Your online shopping experience
I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with a CNET Shopper merchant. We are always working to insure these type of situations don’t arise. However, it’s inevitable, given the ease with which Ingram/TechData allow no-names to distribute their goods, that once in awhile a bad egg will appear.
We encourage our users to look for the CNET Certified Merchant seal. That seal guarantees that if you do have a problem, CNET will work with you and the merchant to reach a quick and suitable resolution.
In the case of Programmer’s Paradise. They are no longer a merchant on CNET Shopper and during the short time they were up, they were not certified.