The evolution of trust as led by Amazon

Daily Telegraph: A record number of Britons, fed up with the crush, bustle and hassle of the high street, will do their Christmas shopping online this month, according to new figures. Internet stores are expected to take at least £5 billion, a rise of 45 per cent on last year. The growth has been fuelled by cheaper prices, the spread of fast broadband connections and greater confidence about shopping online.

Too true. While I live in The Netherlands, much of the Christmas gift-purchasing in my household will be for family and friends in the UK.

So a favoured shopping destination for us is the Amazon UK website. There, we can find nearly every gift we have in mind – usually researched physically by looking at actual items in bricks-and-mortar shops ands then buying them online for all the reasons the Telegraph says.

This is especially the case with books, movie DVDs and music CDs. Why am I going to buy books from a local bookstore here in Amsterdam, or in the UK when I travel there, and pay the sticker price (which for English-language books here usually has a stiff markup, sometimes up to 100 percent, when the price is quoted in euro) when I can buy the same books on Amazon for at least 30 percent off the sticker price, and often discounted much more? And if I have the purchases delivered to a UK address, there is no delivery charge.

That’s the key, in fact – researching your planned purchases offline, and then making the actual purchases online. Price is a big influencing factor, as is convenience.

But for me, it mostly comes down to trust in the online place I’m buying from. That trust goes far beyond just the feeling of confidence you need to have that an online retailer will safeguard your personal and financial data.

As an Amazon user for some 10 years now, my trust is in their ability to simply deliver on their mission “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company” (and I’ve yet to experience anything that damages this trust).

That works for me and thousands of other shoppers.

A very interesting and evolutionary development at Amazon looks like it will take trust to a new level – customer-editable product information in the form of “ProductWiki.”

This will enable you to read what others shoppers say in describing a product – not just the official commentary from a product manufacturer – as well as contribute your own description. It’s a beta service and it will be interesting to see how it actually develops and when it rolls out.

More power to the customer!

7 thoughts on “The evolution of trust as led by Amazon

  1. “usually researched physically by looking at actual items in bricks-and-mortar shops ands then buying them online”
    Maybe shops should start charging an entrance fee, refundable on purchase.

  2. No. That won’t work. What if you pay to go in and they haven’t got what you want? Or you don’t even know what you want.
    Manufacturers paying shopkeepers to display goods?
    If your approach is taken to its logical conclusion, all durable goods shops will die and everyone will have to buy from Amazon (or similar) on trust.

  3. Good points and questions, David.
    I don’t think an entrance fee is workable unless everyone did it. And workable only if consumers were willing to accept it, and I doubt that would be likely.
    So does the move online mean the immiment death of actual shops? I don’t think so, although perhaps what we’ll see is a consolidation where the independent small shop will be out of business because it simply cannot compete in the face of changing buying customs. Which is already happening in the UK, not because of threats from online shopping but from the larger organizations with more resources, etc.
    In any event, there will probably always be places where you will prefer to visit and see the merchandise. Clothes, for instance. Or fresh food as opposed to packaged food.
    Yet I do think any shop has to have some kind of differentiator that will continue to attract customers including those who have moved online, so to speak.
    Otherwise it may well be not-so-sudden death.

  4. Yes, I agree about perishables. No point in looking at the bananas in your local shop then ordering them from Amazon.
    Your “check it out” model only works for commodities. But if I were stocking, say laptop computer bags, and people came in all day long but never bought, I’d be more than a little brassed off. And more than a little broke, in next to no time.
    Perhaps this is a demographics thing. Enough people still buy offline to make it worth keeping a shop going, even if it gets increasing numbers of tyre kickers.
    In the end, what’s going to happen? I guess the peer review stuff comes into play. Would it be possible for competitors to stuff the system with enough negative reviews (it’s happened to me in software) or will the sheer weight of genuine reviews bury the inappropriate ones?
    Hmm. Even more questions. And even fewer answers.
    Someone out there must have some interesting views. Fancy sharing them?

  5. Unfortunately Amazons popularity for Christmas shopping seems to be taking it beyond it’s ability to cope. Pages with inappropriate goods – considering the titles, pages and pages with ‘no image available’ …… too boring to go on.

  6. I’m not sure that people are going to start looking in physical, bricks-and-mortar stores to check out products but still choose to buy online – at least not in hoardes. The thing is, one of Neville’s points about why we shop online is that it’s convenient. This is true, but to me, the convenience of it is entirely in the bypassing of the shopping process: getting dressed, leaving the house, getting in your car, driving to the store, finding parking, and physically walking around from store to store and inspecting the items. That is the inconvenience we’re trying to save ourselves from by shopping online, no? If not, then what exactly is the inconvenience we’re trying to avoid? That just still seems like a pretty big hassle to me. In fact, it’s actually MORE of a hassle, because you go to all the trouble of shopping but instead of purchasing the item while you’re right there in the store, you leave and have to take a further step (going online) to make that final purchase.
    I totally get the cost savings point if the goods are discounted, but I’m not sold on the convenience of the process described. Besides, all the websites I’ve bought online from have delivery charges, which often makes buying online more expensive than in stores. I think online stores have to eliminate delivery charges somehow (or build it into the regular pricing) in order to appeal to a larger base of people.

  7. Yes, it is possible for competitors to stick negative reviews on each other, or better yet, positively biased ones for themselves, as I’ve noticed even on the original Wiki, when describing many commercial products it gets slanted negatively or positively, with a spam-war breaking out with editing occuring every five minutes.

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