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November 5th, 2003

Online shopping has stagnated

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 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.”

Posted in Technology

FROM: Paul
DATE: Wednesday November 5, 2003 -- 10:37:03 am
I agree to a point. I'm able to scoop up some nice deals via the coupon sites, but a lot of the really good deals involve copious rebates, coupon codes that might or might not work, and voodoo. Voodoo!

I do think Lands' End is the bees' knees when it comes to clothing and customer service, though.

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday November 5, 2003 -- 2:56:06 pm
I really like for CD's - great collection of obscure roots and alt-country stuff I'll never find in a store around here. Michelle has been buying a lot of Christmas stuff for the kids on Ebay - getting great deals because the Xmas rush has not started yet. The only site that has "wowed" me recently is Netflix. What a great service that is.

FROM: elwood
DATE: Wednesday November 5, 2003 -- 10:11:25 pm
it was obvious that no dealer could sustain that type of promotion and survive.

that about sums it up. btw, has made a profit yet (and none of that pro forma stuff, either).

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday November 10, 2003 -- 10:17:12 am
I think the term "stagnated" is a bit misleading here. In reality, online shopping has simply come back down to earth. In hindsight, a lot of companies seemed to use the internet as one big coupon itself. "Hey, come to our website and get a free DVD!". Nowadays, with companies realizing that you can only inflate your earnings for so long before it comes back to bite you in the ass, profitability matters more than ever. Not to say that there aren't deals still to be found, but for the most part, companies seemingly have made the transition of emphasising the conveinence of using their sites to make life easier (buying movie/travel/hotel tickets, paying bills, banking, etc), rather than using the 'Net as a giant billboard or novelty item.

That said, I wonder how many companies would still ship paper clips in a gigantic box..

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