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Is Amazon Still A Customer Centric Company?

Till now you must, at least, have heard about a claim that Amazon bans customers’ account due to (allegedly) too many returns. The news is all over the web for couple of days and it really contradicts the image of Amazon that consumers have in mind which is “Everything Customers”. From Amazon’s fledgling date, Amazon set up its value on “customers”. They knew that they didn’t have much to give and, in order to survive, they needed to have a strong stand to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Hence, they didn’t double down on the “customer-centric” culture, they were all in to live and breathe in it. It paid off immensely after all those giant retailers still refused to see the trend (live or die by customer loyalty in the Internet era) and still buried their heads in the sand. Not only Amazon became the household retailer brand, but they also got into many different industries due to their “customer-centric” reputation. In consumers’ mind, no matter what happens, Amazon will take care of us. This is one of the reasons why consumers pay $99 (now is $119) annual membership fee to become a prime member of Amazon. They didn’t pay the fee to buy something cheaper (to be honest, a lot of stuff are more expensive on Amazon.com) but they did that to buy a piece of mind.

So, what happened to Amazon? Became too big too fast? Getting too cocky due to the support of their customers’ money? Hovering into the ignorant territory because there aren’t any real competitions in the United States anymore?

 

 

Allegedly Too Many Returns

Since the news circulating on the web, you can easily type “Amazon bans customer accounts due to returns” to find out many cases related to that. Based on those stories, Amazon bans customers’ account due to (allegedly) too many returns or, in their terms, “abusive returns”. However, we just dived into the storyline a couple of days ago. Nathan Peterson whose account was banned by Amazon and he posted his 5 year purchase history from Amazon.com on twitter. In 5 years, he purchased 550 items from Amazon and returned 43 items. If you ask our opinions, we would say (8%) that’s a reasonable return rate on the online purchases. Why? Because you really don’t know what you would receive. Sometimes orders never arrived, sometimes you received wrong items, sometimes you got defective items, and sometimes the product just suck too much and stopped working in a few days. It’s not like you shop in store that, at least, you know what you will get. Hence, the 8% return rate is more than reasonable for the online shoppers especially for Amazon prime members. The one reason why prime members are so valuable to Amazon is that they didn’t pay the membership fee for cheaper products on Amazon.com, they paid prime fee for the peace of mind and that peace of mind usually leads to so many impulse purchases and they just keep those purchases (if they don’t receive defective items or wrong orders)… meaning that they overspend so much money on Amazon for something they don’t need (or even want) just because they trust Amazon will always be on their side.

Now since this news causes so many buzzes, the overspending behavior might slow down because consumers will need to make more wiser purchases in order to protect themselves. Also, why risk buying something that might be defective or wrong when you receive it?

 

What Kind of Retailer/Company Are We Really Dealing With?

Seriously that this news made us think a bit deeper regarding what kind of company that Amazon is? It’s pretty obvious that consumers have the right to return products (of course, need to keep its integrity) with the original receipt to the retailer in the United States. Since Amazon puts themselves in this category, consumers should be able to hold the same rights, doesn’t it? It’s like asking Target’s or Walmart’s customers to purchase things and tell them that they cannot return purchases once they pay for after they check out. It’s just ridiculous if Amazon bans customers solely because of this reason.

The question we should as is that it’s Amazon an online retailer or a service company. Well, even if Amazon is a service company, there are some circumstances that they will need to refund their customers (e.g., unexpected service outage or lost of customers’ data due to their own negligence). Unless, consumers are facing a dictator which, obviously, it seems like the case here. Amazon has become too big to care and it’s time for consumers to realize that there isn’t any angel in business when it involves profitability (even in long term it might benefit just as Amazon used to claim what they stand for).

 

What Can We Do About It?

Really that there is nothing consumers can do about it because if you still wanna live in Amazon’s wall of garden, you need to flip a switch in your mind that things might be different from now on. However, if you just follow their rules, you will still be able to maintain this symbiosis (assuming that you still need Amazon to make your live easier. If not, you really can just walk away because there are alternatives already. We are listing them in the next paragraph.)

 

The Alternatives

Think about what lifted Amazon so high in the air in the first place besides its customer-centric culture (claim)? The “2-days FREE shipping”. Online shopping became so dominant is because the logistic has improved drastically in the past 5 years along with all major retailers technology infrastructure and execution ability on the Internet end of spectrum. Therefore, consumers really don’t need to be stuck with Amazon anymore since all the major retailers all provide “2-days free shipping” or even “same day free shipping” all around the United States. What makes live in this day and age great is that consumers can often purchase things cheaper from Target and Walmart than they can get from Amazon.com.

There is one more thing which will make buying from Target or Walmart better than buying from Amazon that is consumers can make returns in store as well. Since there are thousands of Target and Walmart stores around the US, you can really just walk in and walk out in minutes and get your refund right away if something goes wrong. Oh, by the way, consumers won’t need to worry about the sudden ban from Amazon.com and when ordering products, we really don’t need to guess what we might get and what kind of actions we might need to take to correct the wrongs.

 

Summary

The path to the climax of the mountain won’t change and the downfall route to the bottom of the canyon will stay the same as well.

Opening the history book of business, you can see so many stories of the rise of the future empire and collapse of the dominant incumbents. More often than not, the collapse of empires were due to the complacency of their current leading position and the ignorance to their supporters/people. The path to the climax of the mountain won’t change and the downfall route to the bottom of the canyon will stay the same as well. Be aware all empires. Baby prices are coming from everywhere to take the throne of every king in every major industry including online retail as well.