In big business the brand is everything. Companies can coast for a few decades on a brand name. Sears is a good example. Two of the most valuable brands are Apple, often listed at #1, and Amazon, the online retailer.
I shop at both and the experience could not be more different.
Our home is blessed with three Apple Stores within a few miles (I can walk to the largest) and both service and support has been little short of remarkable. When I pick up a product, there is no line to stand in, and my iPhone beeps with the emailed receipt before I step out the door. If something doesn’t work quite right Apple’s associates don’t blink an eye on returns or exchanges.
I admit to being an Amazon Prime member, but after using the free shipping service for more than a year, I’m having second thoughts about continuing the subscription.
First, as my Amazon shopping increased I noticed that many Prime products– those with free shipping– are priced higher than the same product without Prime. So, not only do you pay for Prime membership, you pay more for the products you buy than the same product without Prime.
Second, as it is with many Amazon customers, I have a habit of checking out items I like, putting them in the shopping Cart or saving them for later. Why? Prices drop. Amazon’s artificial intelligence seems to know what is in my Cart, and provides an occasional price cut, ostensibly to give me an incentive to complete the purchase.
Third, Amazon also tracks my whereabouts online, so items in my shopping cart show up on Amazon advertisements as I browse other web sites. So frequently does that happen that it has become an annoyance.
Fourth, not only does Amazon track my online presence, even after I buy a product, I’ll get promotional emails for similar products. I just bought a nice pair of headphones. Now I have email from Amazon encouraging me to buy another pair. I just bought a USB hub. Now I have email from Amazon encouraging me to buy another one.
Sorry, folks. That’s overkill. And it’s killing the Amazon brand for me; sufficiently that I’m not likely to go with Prime again at the end of my subscription.
On the other hand, I get promotional email from Apple, too, but, typical Apple, they are understated and less in my face. Does Apple track me while I visit other websites? If it does, I cannot tell and unlike Amazon ads which follow me online, Apple doesn’t seem to bother and that shows respect.
Regardless of brand value and convenience, we need to remember a few things about business. The first is obvious. Everyone wants your money. How they get to it varies, but they all want the same thing. Second, Apple gets your money the old fashioned way. They make products, they sell products, we buy products. On the other hand, Amazon doesn’t mind pushing cheap crap down their customer’s throats ad nauseam. Meanwhile, to Google, another well known brand, most of us are part of the product, because most of the company’s revenue comes from advertising, not product sales.
I don’t mind shopping with well known brands, but I have grown tired of being harassed and stalked by the likes of Amazon and Google.