business news in context, analysis with attitude

From an MNB reader...

I know you are pro Amazon and I was told by an acquaintance how archaic I was because I have never ordered anything from them. I just prefer going into a store! I really don't like ordering anything  online!

In some cases, a retailer has some items available "online only" so I will break down and order it. I really don't like to buy without trying things on because sizes can vary so much.

In the past two months, I have ordered from Nordstrom, Tommy Bahama and White House Black Market and returned all because I didn't like the way the garments fit. I can tell you that I have items in my closet from Tommy Bahama in XS, S and M...all fit but it's a crap shoot as to what size I'll wear in a certain design. I also ordered from Philosophy because they had a good money saving promotion but my order never showed up. They did replace the order.... but it was a hassle!

Can we agree that what works for some just isn't everyone's cup of tea?

Absolutely. In fact, I've never said anything else.

In fact, I would argue that physical retail that is relevant and compelling will always have a role in consumers' lives - and more in some consumers' lives than others. I just think that mediocre, lowest-common-denominator, non-distinct retailing probably is at risk.

And it should be.

MNB reader Terry Pyles had some thoughts:

I've been a frequent Amazon user since 1997, when all they sold was books.  I'm now averaging about 70 orders per year, which, as a single guy, means Amazon is the first place I turn to for nearly everything.  I've never used "Subscribe and Save" because I'm still a little old fashioned and prefer to make my buying decisions one at a time.

However, the gist of this article applies to the Amazon site in general, not just Subscribe and Save.  While I don't use S&S, I do frequently use my order history; I look up the last purchase and click on "Buy it Again".  In recent months I have been gobsmacked by the price increases occurring over a few months' time.  In many cases their prices are not even competitive with the likes of Walmart, Target, or other brick and mortar stores.  Yes, the convenience factor is still there.  And maybe that's enough to satisfy many consumers.  And maybe it won't be, of they keep up this practice of price gouging.

I keep thinking someone has to pay for the new fleet of Amazon trucks, as well as the drones they are no doubt stockpiling.  Not to mention their investment in their own brick and mortar stores.  Watch the rising prices and you'll see who's paying.

Amazon is still my starting point for nearly every purchase.  But they have lost my confidence that they will be the best choice.

We've had some discussions about online bulletin boards, which some publications have eliminated because of their concerns about what sometimes has been seen as hate speech. Which led one MNB user to write:

Kevin, one of your reader's comments provoked me to weigh in on the online comments bulletin boards, especially those (and that's just about all of them) where commenters post anonymously:

"I am against any form limiting the free exercise of speech in nearly any form."

I doubt if this commenter recognizes that free speech and the 1st Amendment only applies to gov't restrictions on speech. The chances are pretty high that the commenter's employer, as do just about all employers, implement severe consequences when one of their employees expresses something hateful publicly.  It's not a matter of good or bad, hate is hate and bigotry is bigotry, it's just bad. Put yourself in the other person's shoes (or sandals or boots or flip-flops, etc, it's just a metaphor) and show some kindness and empathy.

But if you want to go ahead and hate, at least sign your own name and own it, including any consequences to your job or partnerships or friendships.

BTW, I am grateful that you curate the comments and don't permit an anonymous online bulletin board. My other favorite morning read, Seth Godin, doesn't do it either. And thanks again for including stuff like this in your column.

From another reader:

Thanks for curating the conversation on MNB, I've always thought you do a good/great job of providing equal staging for both sides of topics, with your opinion counting a little more (as it should). As for censorship, if people want their views to be heard write a blog, tweet, Facebook, whatever and maybe I'll find you, maybe I won't. At least I know I can read MNB without the vile, self-serving, egotistical, name-calling comments found nearly everywhere else on-line.

Thanks. Though I must concede that sometimes I can be a little self-serving. (Have I told you lately about my books...?)
KC's View: