Why I Don’t Use Amazon First

I won’t say I have stopped shopping at Amazon. That would be a ridiculous claim. But I have severely cut back due to the poor user experience that happens when I’m searching for my products.

First, let me show you how important Amazon has been to my ecommerce life.

amazon header, Amazon Smile is even my third bookmark

A few things in this image to note:

  1. I have AmazonSmile in the 3rd position for my bookmarks bar
  2. Not Gonna Do It is of course SNL George H.W. Bush. Thank you Dana Carey
  3. I am a current Prime member (probably eliminating that this year)
  4. My Amazon Smile is the Wildlife Conservation Network 🙂 – sadly though, I’ve only had $11.39 donated to the cause. I’m glad that Amazon shows the overall donations earned…but there are so many questions I have on this. What is the start date for these tracking numbers? I can’t recall when I identified WCN as my charity. I only know I had a different charity for a good year or two before changing. For the broader dollar donations, how many organizations are donated to? It says “As of May 2018” but starting from when? I believe Smile has been around for ~5 years. So for all time? That’s pennies compared to the overall spend on Amazon. You can click in and see a bit more detail, but there is still a lot of information lacking. (And of course, there is a great article on the MAJOR shortcomings of AmazonSmile.)

amazonsmile donations to wildlife conservation network

{Let me take a moment here to say that overall, the US does a really bad job at charities. We do “armchair” charity work (my own term for things like, “Buy this and donate .0002%!”) and/or, we support charities that actually cause more harm than good (re: Toms ). There are other inherent issues that we create and/or aren’t correcting, but another post for another day. If I ever get to it.)}

Second, let’s look at my spending over previous years.

In 2017 I had 47 tracked orders (more on this in a moment) and spent $1,223.

This does not include my Prime membership or my Kindle Unlimited monthly fee. I also want to say, I buy a LOT of Kindle books (most for free, but several I pay for) and none of those were listed in my orders. I know for a fact I spent at minimum $25 (and that is a very conservative number) in 2017 on eBooks. And had easily over 150 orders (no joke, I receive ~10 daily emails for free and bargain eBooks and buy on average 1 free book per day on a low download day.

2017 tracked amazon orders

I also noticed that my total cart balance was deleted from older orders to show only $0. I used the current product list price for my cost. Obviously prices on Amazon fluctuate, so I could have spent a little less if I bought at an ideal time. Or I could have spent a little more if the shop price was higher.

In 2016 I placed 54 orders and spent $1,617.

2016 amazon order count 54


So from 2016 to 2017 I had a decline in 7 orders and $400. I’m not going to pull all of my 2015 info up, but I checked and had only 39 orders in 2015, but my total spend was $1,177. (Again, both of these numbers do not include any eBook purchases).

Now, let’s take a look at how I’m tracking for 2018.

I will preface this section and say that in previous years, I made quite a few purchases on Amazon for Christmas. As I’m sure a significant number of people do. In 2014 (not tracked at all), I had the luxury of an “As Seen On TV” test group which I received a lot of Amazon gift cards from. And I saved those up to use for my Xmas purchases that year. (PLEASE TAKE ME BACK ASOTV!!!)

In 2015 and ’16 I was a regular on a few other Amazon review sites and had some very cost-effective purchases in exchange for reviews. These sites were either completely abolished or scaled back dramatically after some rule changes at Amazon about kickbacks for reviews. (Let me take a moment to say, I know a lot of people dog on these reviews, claiming they are fake. Personally, I never once used positive feedback with a negative experience/product. I gave just as, if not more, critical feedback as I had ever given. and with way more detail included. But, anecdotes, and so I digress.)

So, back to 2018. To be on pace to just meet my 2017 year orders this year, I would need to be between 12 and 16 orders per quarter (or 36 orders by the end of this month).

But, as anyone in eCommerce knows, you really want and hope for an X% uptick. But, we could also say, the number of orders can go down, if the cost of orders is increasing. If we go that route, I would need to be between $306-$408 per quarter. (Same math applies here. I’m not a math person, so feel free to call me out if I’ve miscalculated.)

**Remember though, this isn’t even acknowledging my decline in spend and orders from 2016 to 2017.**

So, am I on pace for 2018 orders?

2018 amazon orders through to August

For total number of orders, no. If we break this up quarterly, I should have 11-12 orders placed per quarter, and by the end of this month I should have about 35 orders total. My total number of orders for the year, is what I should have made in just one quarter. And my purchases are also way off track at $325. I should have a *quarterly* spend of about $400. Instead my quarterly spend is closer to $100.

But what else may cause the decline?

Obviously there are several factors that could come into play for a decline in spending. Any good marketing person knows though, this is unlikely and there are ways to win-back the spend outside of serious financial troubles.

In 2017 I dropped my purchases down quite a bit as I was pregnant. I wasn’t buying clothes that I wouldn’t be able to wear for a year. But, there were a lot of opportunities for marketing to persuade me otherwise…

Like: Fashionable Maternity Wear

Maternity clothes have come a long way since my first pregnancy in the early 2000s (and my sympathies for those well before that time frame). But, my thought process was at least two-fold.

  1. why buy something for ~$30 new that I’ll wear for MAYBE 5 months (I went into labor with my son in all non-maternity clothing).
  2. a more personal issue, my skin was (and is) extremely sensitive and any and all clothing was very itchy to me. I mostly wore dresses from my closet that were a few years old and I had undergrown from weight loss in 2015/2016.

That doesn’t mean Amazon couldn’t have done a better job positioning clothing to me. But overall, Amazon clothing prices are either ridiculously high. (Who hasn’t laughed at their $100 average shirts…I’m sorry, you’re not DKNY and we’re online. Give me a f’ing break.) Or, they’re extremely sketchy in quality and the reviews show. $4 for gold plated cashmere with 1 star? Hmmm…

Amazon – you gotta up your clothing merch game.

So how about: Baby Prep

This was my second child, so I was less inclined to make purchases I would have made with numero uno. But, my first child was born 13 years prior to baby dos. Amazon is tapping into this market slightly better than the fashion/wearables market. But still rather minimally.

And this is where I’d like to get started in the poor user experience of Amazon pages.

I want to search by things by:
  • Price – I am an economic purchaser. This is the only way to persuade me to buy something new (because my eco-mind wants second hand as often as possible). But anytime I search by price, or start with lowest price, the MOST RIDICULOUSLY irrelevant items populate. It’s abundantly clear to me that Amazon is not willing to satisfy my thrifty shopper side. Why can’t I see or filter by used items prices? Further, why can’t I save items to my lists from the used sellers column? I realize those sellers may not have merch available when I move it from my list to my cart, but then defer to the next lowest priced item with a note on it.
  • Picture – Before someone says it, yes, the app does allow for this. But guess what, the app doesn’t support Amazon Smile…and so,
  • Smile supported app – whyyyyy is this not a feature.
    • And additionally, an overhaul to the current AmazonSmile structure. I’m only moderately woo’d by the tiny sums of money being donated to date. You can do better Amazon…you multi-billion dollar company that doesn’t pay employees for the intense labor you demand.
  • App-supported eBooks – whyyyy is this ALSO not a feature. I can’t purchase an eBook on the app? I have to either visit the website, or I can use a specific app (which I only have on my iPad since that’s where I read all my eBooks), and it’s not as intuitive and easy to use.
  • Services– this is up-and-coming if not currently outside of Amazon’s (current) wheelhouse. But it should head this direction. I’m in the process of moving. I could use services such as:
    • Decorating support for my new house and/or staging my current house
    • Handyman advice and support for both homes
    • Tips on marketing my real estate to capture more buyer’s attentions
    • Easier tracking of feedback from prospective buyers (I have this through my realtor, but it’s very unreliable)
  • Other examples of services:
    • Apple product care services (screen replacements, battery replacements) beyond just selling the products for DIY
    • Finding local service providers (think Thumbtack, but usable)
      • And improve on the bidding process for these service providers!

Lastly, the constant increase in Prime fees and unreliability in the service offering.

This is probably the most important issue for me. Prime has very little benefit to me anymore. First of all, I have only fractions of my orders (ALL PRIME ORDERS!) arriving within 2 business days. And yet my Prime membership fees are increasing and I know for a fact that Amazon Warehouse employees are in conditions that should be 100% illegal in this country. If you are working people like they’re in a sweat shop, increasing your fees and not delivering on your promise, then WTH is happening?!

An alternative to this would be to give people the ability to choose what their Prime membership benefits are. What’s important to me? I would de-select the free monthly Prime book (shocker, since I read a lot). I would give up Prime video (this is a joke of an offering by the way Amazon), as well as Prime photo and Prime music if I could have just Prime (2-day) shipping.

Is Amazon still focused on the customer?

Amazon has reached an insane level of reliance in our society for innovating the online buying experience. And beyond that, they embodied the user experience sentiment of “don’t make me think.” They were to ecommerce what Google is to search engines. But in recent years, they’ve distanced themselves from this easy-to-use focus and re-directed it to service offerings that aren’t competing with the likes of Netflix or Google Photos. And now, Google Express, Jet and other niche-offering retailers (Home Depot, Jane, Jet, etc.).

But, their sales are steady, if not inclining. And the fights with/from (?) Trump may even help their sales. So while I could be an anomaly, I’d venture to guess there are a lot of people with frustrations who are just holding off for a better UX to eventually roll out. I have no patience for waiting. I’m not deleting my account, but I am scaling back (as shown above) – I also cancelled Kindle Unlimited just last month, and so far I’m happier shopping elsewhere, or saving money by cutting these purchases entirely.


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