Perhaps I was spoiled by the anything’s-possible-because-we-all-have-money era of online shopping. After all, in 1999, finding online bargains was easy, and it wasn’t unusual to find a $15 off a $15 purchase coupon combined with free shipping. My first 100 DVDs cost me an average of less than $5 a piece. Life was good for consumers, despite the fact it was obvious that no dealer could sustain that type of promotion and survive.
Nowadays, there are still some deals to be had and some decent services offered. I’m glad DeepDiscountDVD and their crappy web site has stuck around, because they continue to offer the lowest prices and free shipping. And NewEgg.com is quite a resource for computer equipment. I’ve also grown to appreciate the “pick-up” option at Circuit City and Office Depot, though they both could be streamlined a bit. But in terms of online stores that really blow me out of the water with their deals or services, there just aren’t many around anymore. Back in the heydey, co-workers and I would have packages arriving three or four times a week. Now, it’s maybe three or four times a month… if that. And I order less and less from the large online vendors, opting more frequently for smaller vendors that specialize in a very specific product. Like the mom-n-pop shops of the net.
What do online vendors need to do to stand out? I’m not sure. Good deals, friendly service, perhaps live help 24/7… but there’s gotta be something out there to help get online commerce out of its funk. Someone’s got to have some sort of creative ideas beyond a “gold box.”
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