Expand your Online Shopping beyond Amazon to Save Money
At BuyVia, we are focused on shopping and the reasons driving consumer’s purchase decisions. Some people buy on price alone and mostly online, while others prefer the traditional brick and mortar shopping experience.
We recently conducted a survey about online shopping and found that the majority of our respondents thought of Amazon more often than any other retailer - either offline or online - when they wanted to purchase a specific item. In fact, many of those surveyed now go straight to amazon.com (bypassing Google entirely) when they are shopping online.
It’s clear that Amazon has become the thousand pound gorilla in a room of smaller online retailers. Just a few years back, aspiring entrepreneurs were setting up shop on the web and competing with others in their niche - but now they have to factor Amazon’s advertising reach, branding, and cost of goods into their business plans. For many, it simply doesn’t make sense to compete with Amazon any more - and a quick search will find many blog posts from former ecommerce company stakeholders lamenting the almost monopoly-like power Amazon now experts of the online shopping experience. Smaller manufacturer’s often simply set up shop on Amazon and forego setting up an ecommerce experience on their websites altogether. Larger brands often hesitate, fearing Amazon may damage their brand and learn too much about their operations and customer base.
Amazon is also on the bleeding edge of delivery services, which differentiates it from its competitors. Although they have long been known for inexpensive two day delivery, they are now experimenting with same day delivery in several markets. But they’re not stopping at same day - in fact, they are building a large fleet of drones which will supply “on-demand” delivery to your office, car, or home - what you want, when you want it.
Amazon was also one of the first to create a tribe feeling among it’s loyalists by offering Prime subscriptions. For a monthly fee, members receive discounts on almost every purchase, with additional discounts on shipping. It’s a win-win for both Amazon and their consumers - customers receive better value, and Amazon increases its sales to these customers.
Finally, Amazon offers a world class return experience. Depending on if you purchased directly from Amazon or one of their vendors, you may receive free return shipping and exchanges - which is very handy, for example, if you order the wrong size of clothing.
So - where are some of Amazon's weak spots?
We examined hundreds of different categories and carefully explored their product breath. We sought to find other stores that would have better deals and products than Amazon.
Newegg is a clear leader in the technology space, carrying everything from computer parts to higher end notebooks and tablets. Their pricing is often lower than Amazon and they apply tax only in CA, NJ,and TN.
TigerDirect is an online and retail store operation which also has some aggressively priced technology products. They also charge tax in just a couple of states.
Apple sells their product at full retail but has a nice outlet with refurbished and discontinued items decked out with full warranty and sometimes aggressive prices. Amazon does not carry the entire line of Apple products; IE items like the iPad or iPhone are sold by Amazon 3rd party stores.
Monoprice is a Southern California-based organization which private labels a wide variety of products from cables the speakers to headphones and more. Prices are aggressive and the customer service is great.
Clothes - this is probably Amazon's weakest area. There a wide variety of stores that people know and love. Gap, Macys, Kohls, Nordstroms, Gap, Target, Walmart, all sell a wide variety of apparel at many different price points. Fashionistas can save with variety of stores including Gilt, Rue La La and other flash sale sites.
Shoes - Amazon owns Zappos and 6pm, which are well liked brands, and have excellent customer service. Their prices are fairly high, however - so consider other stores including Nike Outlet, DSW, Eastbay, Sports Authority, Shoes.com, and shoebuy.com.
Home – Amazon has a pretty wide selection of products, but many people still like to venture in store to see items. Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes and others carry a wide variety of products. One Kings Lane, Fancy and others outdo amazon in unique boutique items.
Grocery – Amazon Fresh is slowly starting to enter into several local markets for grocery delivery. The Seattle area and northern California are the current targets. Other services popping up include Walmart, Safeway, and Instacart. This area is still in its infancy but poised for rapid growth.
Books - Amazon has squashed its competition in this space. Barnes & Noble still exists, but is a fraction of its old size. Definitely compare prices, because we've seen some prices that are lower at Barnes&noble.com especially when you factor in coupons.
Health and Personal Care - Amazon is also very strong in this area with a large selection and good prices. Stores like target, drugstore.com and walgreens.com offer smaller selection and often higher prices.
Google and eBay - Let’s also not forget the other gorillas in the sand box. Google, in addition to providing vendors in search results for items is now pushing forward with their Google shopping in certain locales. For a membership fee, you can buy from local stores including Costco and Target, and have items delivered to your door. eBay, while being hit-or-miss in certain categories, can frequently offer better pricing than Amazon.
The bottom line? Amazon offers a quick, easy, one-click shopping experience for a wide variety of products and at very competitive prices. In addition to what Amazon sells directly; they also run the largest online marketplace, with large and small independent suppliers competing against each other to provide the best service and pricing under the Amazon brand.
Smaller web-based and brick-and-mortar organizations face huge challenges when competing with Amazon, but can offer better pricing and service in some categories. Stayed tuned to BuyVia.com for updates to this list as we venture into the shopping season!
Do you have a favorite store that offers great products, prices, and customer service? Leave a comment below.