Have Amazon dropped the ball?

I often use Amazon as an example of a company that is a pioneer in the way that we use the web today. From an ecommerce perspective, our expectations of where elements are placed on the page have come from using the likes of Amazon for books, CD Wow (remember them?) for CD’s, Play.com for DVD’s and Ebuyer or Dabs for computer components. Most of the ecommerce websites today can thank these (and others) for researching and developing how we browse and shop on the web today.

Whilst the competition has floundered, with the closure of Play.com and before that the removal of it’s own products leaving it as just a market place, Amazon must have been rubbing it’s hands with glee. After all, their aggressive pricing policies and free delivery had us turning to them for more than just books, you can now buy almost anything on their website, either directly from Amazon or from a multitude of sellers in the marketplace.

But all that has changed.

No longer is Amazon the cheapest place to buy products, especially one of its staple products, CDs and DVDs. The shop itself has become a jumble sale, allowing the likes of you and me to add products at will, regardless of whether the same products exist on the site already (I know, I’ve done it). Not only that but the super saver free delivery option has gone unless you spend over an ever-increasing threshold, currently set at £20.

You could point to the drive towards getting more people to use the Prime service, which gives not only free next day delivery, but also access to the online streaming service, as a reason for the shift in policy on delivery charges. I can only guess that the powers that be want to take the money up front (currently £79 per year) for delivery that they previously gave away for free. After all they will need the money to pay for Jeremy Clarkson et al’s massive wages for the eagerly awaited Top Gear follow up reported to have been snapped up by Amazon Prime.

Having spent the best part of fifteen years going to Amazon to find almost anything on the web at a good price with free delivery, I now find myself drawn further towards that other stalwart of the web, EBay. There was a time when EBay was just other people’s junk, second hand tat that you could pick up for a few pounds in the hope that it is better than the pictures make it look. These days you can pick up almost anything, brand new, at a decent price (if you know where to look).

Like other market places you still get products that are vastly over priced, so it is worth shopping around to find the best deal and always check people’s negative feedback. And with PayPal (even though it has now split from EBay) you get the piece of mind that if the DVD you bought doesn’t turn up or turns out to be fake, you are protected as a buyer.

So have Amazon really dropped the ball? (No rugby World Cup 2015 pun intended) Or is their inflated product pricing and delivery policy really a masterstroke to move the company into being a streaming media provider (Prime Instant) rather than a physical product store?

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