Amazon's announces "free" shipping
June 21, 2001 10:02 PM Subscribe
I have been shopping on Amazon for over 3 years. When I buy books, music and DVDs, I buy on average $80 worth of entertainment. Today I received a order of 10 books. I used the "Wait until order is ready" service because I preordered Neil Gaiman's new book. The total for my books was $123.26 with shipping of $13.39 making the grand total $136.65.
I was shopping Amazon tonight and saw their new free shipping notice. My first though was great! Then when I went to look for some books, I noticed the 20% off prices were no more. Now they are full price or 10%. I searched around and found the total for the books I just purchased using your new pricing. The grand total of my order would now be $147.91 with free shipping. An increase of $11.26 or 8 percent.
I am a fan of Amazon but not a fan of their thinly veiled attempt to raise prices using the bait-and-switch approach taken from offline stores. Nothing is ever 'free.' I know Amazon wants to be profitable by Q4, but this pricing is too aggressive. The email for feedback is firstname.lastname@example.org. Voice your opinion about this offering. Is it warranted?
posted by owillis at 10:29 PM on June 21, 2001
(i agree that the 10% discount is too aggressive. just think of all those independent bookstores that don't have the economies of scale to be able to afford that!)
posted by jimw at 10:39 PM on June 21, 2001
I do think this is going to cost them a loss of business, though. People have been trained to expect discounts online. If they don't get them, they won't buy. Personally, if I'm only going to get 10 percent off a book, I'd just as soon drive to my local bookstore; instant gratification and the benefits of getting out of the house for a while are worth more to me than a lousy dollar or so.
posted by aaron at 10:45 PM on June 21, 2001
And who never have the book you want anyway.
posted by aaron at 10:46 PM on June 21, 2001
posted by lheiskell at 10:53 PM on June 21, 2001
We notice you haven't purchased anything from Amazon for quite some time. We really care about you, and we'd like to see you again, so here's a voucher for free shipping.
NB - voucher only valid for shipping to a single address in the continental United States.
Sure they care about me - not enough to realise I LIVE IN AUSTRALIA, though. God, if they're stupid enough to use spamming software that can't even filter out foreign domain names, no wonder they can't turn a profit.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:17 PM on June 21, 2001
Amazon announces “free” shipping. As a fan of Amazon, I’m chagrin to find myself wallet deep in an attempt to raise prices using the bait-and-switch approach of offline stores. Amazon wants to be profitable by Q4, but this pricing is too aggressive.
Also, (this goes for everyone) never start a sentence with “I”.
p.s. I have trouble heeding my own advice.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:23 PM on June 21, 2001
Ew, each paragraph of my post started with I. At least I didn't refer to myself in the third person.
posted by lheiskell at 11:33 PM on June 21, 2001
Hmmm ... Has anyone checked to see if they've tried to patent bait-and-switch along with one-click shopping. Long live the boycott.
posted by RavinDave at 12:56 AM on June 22, 2001
The 8% increase lheiskell calculated is based on the idea that you're buying a lot of items and can consolidate some shipping charges. If you're only buying two items, the price is probably a wash. I typically saved up my purchases and overbought to save on shipping. I think this will disincentivize that and probably will hurt their sales, but time will tell.
posted by willnot at 1:24 AM on June 22, 2001
Which is interesting with the current WalMart thread running: At least look, how those who are the literary, reader type support what they've seen happen to the independent hat, apparel, pharmaceutical, grocery, furniture et al stores of the past. I suspect because they've read about it.
posted by crasspastor at 1:53 AM on June 22, 2001
1) It's STILL cheaper than you can get it elsewhere
2) The delivery is FAST and RELIABLE
3) The inventory is HUGE
4) Lots of value adds & recommendations that actually WORK (thanks mainly to Junglee)
Let me elucidate. Recently I needed to print photos taken with my Canon Powershot G1 for an art show. I was under a deadline. Looked into Kinko's (ridiculously expensive) and Wolfcamera.com (too slow) as well as a few other digital devlopers.
Finally, I decided to buy a printer since I had wanted to anyway. I went to Office Depot, Office Max, three different computer stores, Fry's Electronics. I was at the end of my rope.
Then a guy in the office said, "why don't you order it online?". "But won't that take a long time", I asked?
The answer is no. I looked at a few places. Amazon had the cheapest for the model I was looking for, I found it EASILY (unlike the others) and it was in stock. Even better, the shipping time for normal shipping was 2-3 days.
So I ordered it. I checked the package tracking the next day. It was already in the San Francisco UPS depot by 11am. I had it the following day.
As far as I'm concerned, Amazon did it's job and did it superbly. Had I thought of shopping there before running all over town, they would have not only saved me money but also countless wasted hours.
Thank you, Mr Bezos. I'll gladly pay you 8% more...
posted by fooljay at 2:43 AM on June 22, 2001
At Amazon.com, we're always working to make your shopping experience as simple as possible. It's our hope that this offer will accomplish that by eliminating your need to do the math for shipping costs. For qualifying orders, the price you see is the price you get--you'll no longer need to factor in shipping charges at the end of your order.
We've also changed our pricing on some books, CDs, DVDs, and videos: for some products prices have stayed the same, for some products prices are lower, and for some products we've reduced our discounts. When we run the numbers, most customers, all-in, save even more money and have a simpler shopping experience with this approach.
For example, New York Times® hardcover bestsellers were 40% off. They're still 40% off, but now shipping is free--just buy two.
To be fair, seems they are trying to explain the discount cuts.
I would love it if all their books still had the 20% discount from a few years ago. Those days are long gone, though. At least they're being some what up-front about this.
posted by bilco at 3:34 AM on June 22, 2001
I really, really love Amazon, and if prices went up 20%, I'd still probably buy from Amazon - the convenience & selection alone make it a winner in my book. And not having to calculate or play games with shipping prices makes things that much easier for simpletons like me.
posted by davidmsc at 4:15 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:19 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by fleener at 5:39 AM on June 22, 2001
selling product at unrealistic (and unprofitable) prices and they are losing money.
posted by brucec at 6:35 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 AM on June 22, 2001
What are you doing wrong?
(For the record, I prefer to buy books from my local bookstore but there's some specialty Videos and DVDs that I can find at Amazon that aren't available at the local store.)
posted by Pinwiz at 7:19 AM on June 22, 2001
I like that wording-- for some the prices are lower, for others, the discounts are lower...
posted by andrewraff at 7:34 AM on June 22, 2001
I've long been impressed with the wordsmithing at Amazon. Everyone there involved in designing the customer experience is super-competent, right down to the copywriters. Yeah, it's a transparent attempt to avoid saying "we raised some of our prices," but the writer in me admires the neatness of the solution.
posted by kindall at 8:09 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by m.polo at 8:12 AM on June 22, 2001
Amazon has NEVER offered the best price on anything I wanted, so I've never bought from them. I really don't get this willingness, even desire, to pay more for a book from Amazon.
It's about the book, not the store.
posted by NortonDC at 8:15 AM on June 22, 2001
If you know what book you want, sure it's about the book and not the store. If you don't have any idea what book you want, though, Amazon has unmatched features for helping you figure that out. Some people believe that's worth paying more for in and of itself. Sure, after using Amazon to find the book you want, you could then turn around and buy it somewhere else, but that would be like visiting your local hi-fi experts to try out a DV camcorder, then ordering it from a NYC mail-order retailer to save a measly $350! Whoops, I did that! And so do lots of people. Which is why Amazon has spent so much effort on making their ordering process simple. If their price is a buck or two higher than the lowest available price, they want you to perceive the extra cost as still being less than the time you would spend finding the lowest price and ordering the item from another retailer. Depending on how you value your time, this may well be true. $1 worth of my time is about two minutes, one if I'm feeling impatient.
posted by kindall at 8:31 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by clavdivs at 9:10 AM on June 22, 2001
I work in New York City, where, if you order before 11:00 am, you get your order on the *same day* (by 7:00 pm) at "standard shipping" prices. I order before I leave for work, and have it delivered to my office. I order more than one item, so I'm consolidating my shipping costs, at least to my way of thinking. Can't beat that with a stick, gang.
Of course there's caveats; when you go to order, you need to make sure that it's in stock and marked "same day delivery" -- i.e., at the warehouse in NJ. You need to be in a list of zip codes, and they also say that they will make every effort to get it to you the same day, but it's not guaranteed. Fair enough, though -- out of the ten or so times I've done it, I think I've only *not* gotten it that day once -- and then, it was delivered by the next morning.
I'm sure they'll expand this to other cities if this works in Manhattan...we'll see. But I honestly think it's awesome, 'specially since bookstores by me are out of the way.
posted by metrocake at 9:45 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by rodii at 9:54 AM on June 22, 2001
I work in New York City
Say no more.....getting something the same day from B&N is probably possible ONLY in New York City, where there seems to be a B&N on every third street corner, right next to the Starbucks.
Here in the Boston area where the density of B&N stores is much lower, if you place a "special order", they just order it off the B&N website themselves and ship it to you. Thanks, but I could have done that at home.
I really don't have a problem with Amazon behaving like every other retail business in terms of pricing and shipping, its the sneaky information gathering that bugs me.
posted by briank at 10:15 AM on June 22, 2001
I also like used books, so I suppose I don't really fit in to amazon's target demographic. (I would never buy something from them anyway. it is about the book, but it's also at least a tiny bit about the store.)
posted by rabi at 10:50 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by shinji_ikari at 11:06 AM on June 22, 2001
Granted, I might find some discounts and sales in the Amazon purchase but the ease, reliability and availability of products in addition to the lack of tax have made me a loyal Amazon.com customer.
posted by DBAPaul at 11:08 AM on June 22, 2001
No, no, the items come from New Jersey. From the web site:
"Same Day Delivery is available only to Manhattan addresses. Although we can not guarantee Same Day Delivery, we're often able to provide this enhanced service when the following conditions are met:
1. the item is in stock at our New Jersey distribution center;
2. the order is placed Monday through Friday by 11am Eastern Time;
3. a local courier is available to handle the delivery.
We'll happily provide this upgraded service at no additional charge, whenever Same Day Delivery is possible. "
posted by metrocake at 11:21 AM on June 22, 2001
posted by briank at 11:27 AM on June 22, 2001
Shocked, shocked I am!
I gave up on amazon.com since they took six weeks to ship my last order, which they claimed would be shipped in three to four days. I'd rather pay a bit extra and get good customer service, call me crazy.
Screw 'em. I hope they go out of business.
posted by dr. zoidberg at 12:25 PM on June 22, 2001
posted by fraying at 1:09 PM on June 22, 2001
anyway, if you want to buy online, comparison shop here:
addall, best book buys, biblio (new, used, rare, out-of-print), my simon.
otherwise, supporting a local independent bookseller is a Good Thing, in my opinion. - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:22 PM on June 22, 2001
posted by mmm at 1:40 PM on June 22, 2001
I really wish I could order my wish list in some way: by subject, and also by "these are the things I absolutely must have" and "these are things that I might be interested in buying at some time or another". - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:44 PM on June 22, 2001
posted by clavdivs at 1:52 PM on June 22, 2001
posted by clavdivs at 1:59 PM on June 22, 2001
What's a "cowlicked, mid westerning oppy griffith scraglebond"? Does anybody have any good suggestions about where I could buy books on this topic?
posted by swell at 4:39 PM on June 22, 2001
And "I wouldn't spend money on this myself but I'm interested enough in it that i'd read it if someone else bought it for me."
posted by kindall at 4:43 PM on June 22, 2001
Cowlicked, midwestern Opie-from-the-Andy-Griffith-Show scraggly vagabond.
You're welcome. I'd explain Shakey Jake and the Blue Front, but there's just not enough time to do it justice.
posted by rodii at 5:02 PM on June 22, 2001
Five stories of used and new books? I'm -there-.
As a side note, you can order from them online, too, at www.powells.com (link)- and their prices are very good. If you'd like to support local bookstores and still get the selection of Amazon, try alibras (link), which uses a network of small bookstores to find books that are out of print or rare.
posted by SpecialK at 6:22 PM on June 22, 2001
> Amazon has always been losing money, or am I missing something?
The books, music, and video segment is currently profitable on a pro forma basis, which means that it's making some money if you shuffle the numbers around for awhile. Also, before amazon became a public company, there supposedly was one quarter in which they were profitable (late '95 or early '96 i think).
posted by gluechunk at 6:55 PM on June 22, 2001
Do you have any more details about this? I mean, they have revenues, and they have expenditures, and it makes money if revenue exceeds the expenditures, right? How do companies shuffle numbers around to magically post a profit?
posted by gyc at 8:06 PM on June 22, 2001
posted by owillis at 8:12 PM on June 22, 2001
Advanced Book Exchange (abe)
some crezzy .nu site
posted by NortonDC at 11:01 PM on June 22, 2001
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So companies like Amazon and GroceryWorks have to find ways to convince their potential customers that the online way IS more convenient, and cheaper, and all that stuff. You happened to see past a trick this time. Odds are there's other times in the past when a company came up with a marketing scheme that you didn't see through. Looked like a deal for you in the short term, but always remember, companies don't do anything for free. They have some kinda plan in their head for making more money. Fabric softener with 50% more in the box or bottle than usual? A two for one coupon for a pizza? Low down payment and no monthly payments through the end of the year in order to buy a car or a computer? There's a catch. There is always a catch.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:19 PM on June 21, 2001