I was an early adopter of Amazon.com. I was one of those people who in the mid-90s was looking for a way to monetize his site, even if it was just a little and at the time, the only real thing to do with sites is to throw the Link Exchange banner up (a service I think is extremely missed btw). Then, amazon came along, giving people something like 10% of the profits for linking books on their site and all was great. People bought, and though it wasn’t much money, in those days it wasn’t too much to expect somewhere around $10-20 per year.
Then Amazon became a big money making machine at some point, and not for the websites that made it grow. It started slowly first adding movies and music which in all honesty were welcome. But sooner than later they started adding products left and right. To me, the more disturbing thing was that originally Amazon somehow provided their own products… they were the ones that sold everything, not another store… But even this changed at some point… It started by merging with CDNOW.com which was a great site in its day who now provide itse music and movies, Borders provides books, Target provides a ton of stuff, Toys R’ Us provides toys, etc… What once was the internet’s first superstore soon became one of the internet’s many super malls.
On top of this, at some point they kind of ninja’d in a lowering of the commission that they handed to their website parters, first with anything that wasn’t books but then to books… I think it is currently at 4% (it actually wasn’t bad that they had a lower percentage for electronics as even at 1% if you sold 1 item you’d general make more from it than you would off a book at 10%). In addition to this, they also took many of its discounts off the site… it used to be that in general most items at amazon were between 20-40% off the market price, this difference made it ok to shop through them as this discount made up for the shipping costs and still often made it cheaper than going to the store… no longer. Now if you go there you are often lucky just to get 10-15%, many times it is at 0%.
As if all this wasn’t bad, I went to Amazon earlier this week and it seems that they have stopped altogether being a single store. Before, at the very least, while the music was provided by cdnow, books by borders, etc… if you bought a book, a cd, and a shirt, they’d all come in one package for one price. This isn’t even possible anymore as in addition to these sponsors, it has essentially become like eBay where the entire store is now dominated by individual sellers.
I attempted to buy birthday presents for 3 children, and two packs of underwear earlier from Amazon and ended up with items coming from no less than 5 different stores, only 2 items from the list of about 7, would come from Amazon at their shipping cost. NONE of the items barring one from amazon had any sort of discount. So I canceled the order… we tried again with only the amazon.com items and another which we have been having a difficult time finding. So down to two stores… we looked at the price… $90. The item from the other store sold for $4, but its shipping cost $8. What was worse is the only way we figured this out was by taking the item out of the cart as Amazon is smartly not even posting the shipping cost breakdown anymore… but essentially you pay $8 per store at least… that means that first order would have cost nearly $50 just to ship to my house! You can’t even search Amazon without having these other stores in the search results which would have been fine, but now I can’t even fully tell what amazon has without them… their searches of results is full of crap I refuse to buy due to additional shipping costs.
Amazon, far and away is no longer the deal it was originally and it is no where near being convenient which was the other early draw. It is no wonder they keep trying to come up with new ideas other than the store to keep afloat such as a search engine and a digg machine… because I have a strong feeling that their sales are dropping on average and the only way they keep it up is by adding new stores and new side features… I personally am blacklisting them as an online seller after this last experience, even though I have generally bought between 6-10 items per year for the last 10 years from them. I am also not going to be listing their advertisements on my site any longer, and they have been a premier advertiser for me largely because they provided many different products that I could place with a single plan. I don’t know who is going to replace them in any way, but I know they need to be replaced so I will look.