business news in context, analysis with attitude

I did a FaceTime video yesterday about how I ordered some face masks and vinyl gloves from Amazon on Sunday afternoon, and they showed up - via the increasingly familiar gray Amazon truck - by 7:30 am Monday morning.

One MNB reader was less impressed:

Yes, Amazon delivery time is impressive – gee, only 15 hours from time of ordering to your front door. Of course, you could have taken a 10 minute drive to a local market or drug store and purchased the same items. Granted Amazon is pushing to shorten delivery times and Walmart is doing the same. Everyone wants rapid delivery. I would rather put on my mask (and gloves, if warranted) and drive a few minutes from my home and purchase whatever it is I need. Don’t forget if you live in a rural area you wouldn’t be getting such quick delivery from Amazon. You might have to drive further but it will still be a lot faster!

And another MNB reader was even less impressed:

How nice you get first-rate treatment from Amazon... my thought is someone there knows you will write a glowing review of them as you are wont to do several times a week.

My experience has been a bit different.  Now... I too am a Prime member and have been ordering things from Amazon long enough so that I also had received one of those travel coffee mugs years ago.

Back in March, an elderly family member need his telephone replaced (yes he still has a landline) and we were not about to travel the four hours to either shop there for him or shop here and ship it... so I thought Amazon would be the best bet.  WRONG!  Even though the Panasonic phones were in stock and "Prime eligible" the delivery time frame was ONE MONTH which I, unfortunately, did not notice until after I clicked the purchase button.  I contacted Customer Service and was told "It's because of the pandemic".

Since then I have not received ANY of my frequent orders in the "promised" 2 days.  I only continue to use Amazon as I am in the age demographic that should stay away from stores as much as possible.  So last Thursday when my husband's laptop died we shopped again online.  The ETA for his replacement with "Prime" was a full week - for an IN STOCK item.  This is better for us than having to physically go inside a Best Buy for safety reasons... but still annoying!

I do not expect you to print this, but I want you to be aware that not everyone gets the same A+ treatment that you do from Amazon. 

First of all, of course I would print this.

I wish I had an answer for you.  But I am pretty sure that the filks at the distribution center have no idea who I am or are in any way giving me special treatment.  Though I'm flattered you think I am important enough to merit such attention.

Besides, it isn't just me, as another MNB reader wrote:

I had the same experience yesterday!  Went to 3 stores to find a colored ink cartridge…all stores were out.

Come home – check Amazon – submit order at 3:30 pm yesterday and it arrived at 11:30 this morning.

Ugh…why didn’t I check Amazon originally! 

The thing is, Amazon won't always be the best or fastest option.  But they do this stuff often enough, to enough people, that they establish the baseline for customer experience.  Others will have to live up to the standard, or be found wanting.

I observed yesterday that Walmart seems more focused on investing in "new" economies, while pulling out of "old" economies.

Prompting MNB reader Greg Seminara to write:

International represents more than 20 % of Walmart’s business and a key growth engine.

The USA represents only 4.3 percent of the worlds mouths, so lots of opportunity overseas.

However, Walmart does not have the golden touch everywhere, with departures from UK, Germany, Brazil etc.

Look for Walmart to exit Japan next and Argentina if they can ever find a buyer.

Walmart’s international learning curve has been to shift resources to countries where they have a dominant market share like Mexico,Chile,Central America or strong e-commerce platform (India). 

Responding to my obit for Bob Gibson yesterday, MNB reader Deborah Faragher wrote:

I always thought his first name was “Great” because my husband has never referred to him as anything other than “The Great Bob Gibson”.


And finally, reacting to last Friday's OffBeat column, MNB reader Monte Stowell wrote:

Just a thought for every Friday. How about recommending one or two of movies every Friday. I just added The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor to my watch list. Thanks.

I think I've done a lot of that over the years - both old and new movies - but I'll admit that I've been a little lax lately.  I'll try to be better.