I know there are negative views of Amazon out there (my wife calls them “the evil empire” because of how they treated some publishers and authors). But there’s a reason for Amazon’s dominance: they are often damn good at what they do.
Consider this story as one data point:
I had a Dell laptop at work with a failed battery, and I wanted to buy a new one. I have a corporate account at Dell so I went to their website and tried to find the right battery by myself, using the laptop model to narrow down the choices. After maybe 20 minutes I thought I had found one, although they didn’t offer the exact battery I was looking for, and it was a lower capacity than the original. I bought it, it came, it was wrong. It fit, but the connector was in the wrong place so I couldn’t use it.
At this point I talked to my Dell sales rep and asked him to help me find the right one – I know their view of the inventory is different from the public’s. He found one, sent me a quote, I ordered it, it came, it was also wrong. In fact, it was the exact same battery I had found, which we already knew didn’t work!
I sent my sales rep an email at 1:16 p.m. telling him I was going to look elsewhere. I logged into Amazon, typed in the model number of the battery and it came right up. There was a picture where I could see that the connector was in the right place. It was the exact one I was looking for. I clicked the order button and confirmed it, and it was on its way. (With free shipping!) I sent my rep another email telling him I had found what I needed. The time was 1:20 p.m.
I tried the old way and, after a week and a half, didn’t have what I needed. And I had two batteries I had to return, which is a pain.
The Amazon way took four minutes and it was exactly what I needed. The actual shopping and ordering probably took two minutes. I had it in two days. The next time I need a part like that, why should I even try Dell?
If I called Dell and told them I want to be able to complete a purchase in two minutes they’d think I was crazy. But that’s what the competition can do, at least for this kind of sale.
That’s one example of why Amazon is so successful.Published in