What’s love got to do with it?

Like many of you I’m sure, for many, many years my go-to purchasing behavior has started with doing a search on Amazon to look for whatever it is I might be needing to buy. Rather than wasting time trying to shop locally or doing online searches for items, it was just easier and simpler to do that quick Amazon search for an item.

With Prime, Amazon had biased my behavior in favor of doing a quick purchase from them rather than looking elsewhere. I had confidence that I was getting a fair price and that the item would be in my hands within a day or two. Maybe it’s too strong a word for something as mundane as shopping, but I did love the experience of buying from Amazon – because it was so simple an easy.

But that’s changed – slowly over time – and I’m not the only one who’s noticed it. A couple of recent stories (among others) highlight this:

  • New York Magazine: The junkification of Amazon – “Late last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon’s customer satisfaction had fallen sharply in a range of recent surveys, which cited COVID-related delivery interruptions but also poor search results and “low-quality” items. More products are junk. The interface itself is full of junk. The various systems on which customers depend (reviews, search results, recommendations) feel like junk.”
  • Barry Ritholtz: How Amazon became ordinary – “Generally speaking, I have been a satisfied Amazon consumer – at least up until the pandemic. That was where cracks in the Amazon armor began to show.”

This unfortunate evolution in how Amazon feels to me, a long-time satisfied customer, makes me sad and disappointed. Clearly, I’m not alone. I wish the senior management team at Amazon would sit up and pay better attention to the impacts their “optimization efforts” have been having on the satisfaction of long-time customers. They must understand that an erosion of satisfaction leads directly to switching behavior.

More recently, Amazon announced the elimination of another benefit (Amazon Smile) which, in the overall scheme of things, wasn’t a big deal – but which did make me feel better about my spending at Amazon. Amazon Smile benefited a local non-profit by donating 0.5% of my spending on Amazon at no additional cost to me. This really feels like a “penny wise, pound foolish” move – one that doesn’t lift up my opinion of the company. Another brand diminishing move.

Meanwhile, this morning an Amazon blog post trumpeted how it’s ranked as a widely admired company in a recent Fortune survey: “Amazon ranks No. 2 for the seventh year in a row.”

There is so much to admire about Amazon and everything it provides. Yet it feels to me like it’s slipping and leaving me disappointed. I’d like to get back to feeling delighted with the Amazon shopping experience instead.

Let’s hope the company’s management realizes I’m not alone.

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