Thursday, June 28, 2018

Also-Boughts and Amazon Destroying Customer Trust

Amazon used to be good for helping you find stuff.  That, good deals, and Prime shipping were major game changers and brought Amazon a level of store power not seen since Wal-Mart.

Lately, Amazon seems to be trying to destroy the first thing they were ever good at: helping people find stuff they want.  The ebook bestseller lists have been manipulated a lot, as we all know, but that's not what I'm talking about today.  

Also-Boughts; you know, the links on Amazon to "things other customers bought."  The place where I and likely you, and thousands of other customers, have browsed, bought, and gone down the shopping rabbit hole.  

Well, Amazon has been testing removing them and replacing them with ads, or moving them around on the page so they're hard to find.  All so you'll click on the endless ads they've been pushing lately.

There is no way that throwing away this first, best thing Amazon has been good at (helping people find what they want to buy, and instead forcing more and more glut of ads on them), will not end up impacting the entire store.  The trust of customers, and perhaps even whether they go to Amazon to shop for items at all.  There will always be some sales through Amazon for steady customers--habits, ease of use (like subscribe and save items).

But impulse spending, and "fun shopping," will be affected by making the site more difficult to use.

I don't think that Prime and good deals will be enough to compete so impressively in the marketplace forever--and the things Amazon does now WILL have an impact in the future as customers stop associating Amazon with good deals and good shipping and being able to find what they want--and instead think of it as a frustrating, basically useless for discovery, ad-infested site that is difficult to use the way they want to.  A site it's easier to avoid, except for a few things you can get easily, without having to hassle with search engines clogged by ads, or product pages with carousel after carousel of poorly targeted, useless ads.  

The Amazon disruption that the company is so proud of can't disrupt the tech they've used to build themselves, or the tools they've given customers that customers actually like, without consequences.  

They need to fix the store, or get ready for the impact, which could last for much longer than they think.  When the tech you're disrupting is your own, the customers are, too.  There WILL be other options someday, even for the things Amazon is still good at.  

Maybe it's time.  Maybe Amazon has gotten too big to succeed, if common sense is so far lost.

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On a more personal note, I want to say a couple of things.  I used to love Amazon.  When it was a small site and I was younger, I sold used books there for some spending cash.  Years later, basically housebound and struggling to make a trip anywhere to get things I needed, I was able to use Amazon for necessities and niceties that I simply couldn't get easily another way.  It helped.

I love my Kindles.  I love ebooks.  I love them as a reader, and an author: they've changed the game for me.  Now I can buy books without having to store them!  I can read instantly!  I can read constantly without overloading my shelves to the point of groaning!  I'm even saving trees by reading and writing digitally!  I can sell books without a publisher or printing costs, and Amazon is a big part of that.  It's changed my life in so many ways.

There are still things I like about Amazon.  (It's true, perhaps to my detriment!)  But I don't really trust Amazon anymore.  

The changes I've seen trouble and sometimes anger me.  Amazon used to be my favorite store and I believed in them--more than I should, probably.  For a while now, I've been disillusioned and growing more so.  I don't trust them--and I don't spend hours a week browsing the store and discovering new, cool things I'm interested in (and may end up buying).  Instead I find myself wondering when Amazon's ascendancy will end...and what complicity I share in its current power hungry state.  These aren't comfortable feelings, but they're probably more honest than my previous untarnished Amazon love.

I still love my Kindles.  I still love selling ebooks, and buying them, and there are things I can buy on Amazon that I can't get easily elsewhere.  But...things are changing, and maybe faster than they think.  

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