Amazon is big

Amazon

In the news, Amazon is making headlines for trying to purchase Wholefoods.   But they have their hands in tons of other arenas, seemingly branching out into not only groceries, but home service support, cloud services, video streaming and much more.    I don’t hear many private citizens complaining though, the complaining seems to be only in the media.   No one I know, or even casually know on social media, is concerned about Amazon’s growing dominance.

Conversely, I recall that 10+ years ago lots of everyday people (and the media) were up in arms about Walmart getting to big, saying they were undercutting other local businesses. In several cases, towns were trying to stop future Walmart stores being built in their jurisdictions.  People have argued that most of their product offerings were made in sweatshops in China using forced labor, and therefore they were not only selling second rate products that would not last long, but also propagating sweatshops in China.   There is some evidence to support that claim, and although it’s hard to find anything beyond a couple instances, it still could point to a systemic problem.

Amazon is bigger than Walmart ever was and sells many products from China, but no citizen outrage.    I think this is for many reasons.    First, because Amazon does not have many physical stores and you can’t tangibly see their footprint, they only exist in your computer.  Second, because Walmart got type-cast as “easy to hate” almost a quasi-political movement.   Third, because we have come to rely on Amazon so thoroughly, we enjoy each new service they bring and we want to see more of it and are unconcerned if no one else can come close to competing because the prices are pretty low.  And fourth, as to the sweatshop argument that people make about Walmart, it could be said that Amazon is only allowing sellers to sell their goods and cannot be held liable for how those products are manufactured.  They get the pass because they are in many cases only the middle-man.

If Amazon does cut out all serious competition, will their prices necessarily rise and will people begin to turn on them?  Time will tell on this one.   They have marketed themselves very well and it would take a lot to turn public perception against them.

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Marketing has taught me I’m in the minority

emoji-653309_1920My “real” job is in internet marketing for a small natural products company.   They have two retail brands and one professional brand.    Primarily right now until we get our professional brand’s website completed, I work with the two retail brands.

I’m continually surprised by things I observe, and it makes me realize I’m not the key demographic for anything.

For instance, emoji.   Those fun little icons to express an emotion that everyone uses all the time on social media and texts?   Yep.  I hate them. 😖 😡 👎 And yet, I am faced with the realization that everyone seems to respond to them favorably.   I am, it seems, not in line with the majority.  So we’ll keep adding them to our mailers and other stuff… and I’ll hate every minute of it.

This is why research and market testing are your friends.   Because if it were up to me we’d all use perfect grammar, have a bountiful vocabulary and never need emoji for anything.

Just take my damn money

main-735551_640I live in a small town of about 1,500 people.    I live almost an hour from the nearest major metropolitan area.   In my little town, we have a small grocery store, general store, restaurants, gas stations, hardware store and many other businesses.  In theory, you might never have to leave town to get all the things you need to live, although the selection might not be as great at the big city and sometimes (though not always) the prices are a bit higher.

What I do have a problem with, is finding people who can provide services, like plumbing and electrical.   That’s not to say that there aren’t any people locally who do any number of trades be it plumbing, carpentry or electrical for instance, but actually getting someone to come to my house to do it is another story.

Case in point: I need to have some work done on my basement.   Every so often I’m getting a bit of water seeping in.   I called all the people I could think of to come look at it. Some said “I’ll call you back” and never did.  Some never acknowledged I left a message at all.   Some set up appointments to give me a quote, and then never showed up.  And, unfortunately I live so far away from the nearest large city, those businesses will not travel out this far, or if they do there is a hefty up charge to do it.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve run into this conundrum.  I also need some electrical work done and have yet to find anyone who will come out and take my money.    I was beginning to think that people were intentionally avoiding me and I was taking it personally but then a friend of mine revealed she has the same issue.   Calls people, and they never respond back.   Same issue I was having.

You would think people would happily take our money.   But either small town trade businesses have too much work and can’t handle more, are really bad at customer service.

I wish that our town had a local review page for businesses.   One or two people giving a negative review on their customer service skills might give them a heads up there’s some dissatisfaction.

First round of Spark went well

UntitledI was a little hesitant having heard some negative things regarding the Spark review program, but as it turned out my experience was smooth, other than they had said they would send a group of products out for selection in May and the email didn’t arrive until June.

The two items I selected arrived in decent time, but definitely not super speedy.   They did not come packaged in Walmart boxes as they had in the past, almost as if they were being shipped directly from the manufacturer.     If that is the case, that may be a move on the part of Walmart to save a bit of shipping costs, but this is just speculation.

I was able to leave my review, in the same way that I had in the past with one small addition, they had an area to upload one to two images, but no place to leave a YouTube link for a video review (which I did).

Walmart suggests a 200 word review, but I note many people left far less than that and I feel it must not be a hard requirement.

Now I’m wondering when the next email will be sent out, will it be early next month?  I don’t find that emailing the Walmart Spark program will do much good, I don’t think they have dedicated staff for answering questions as Amazon does with their Vine program.

 

Secret shopping on your terms

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I love getting a good deal, who doesn’t?  But secret shopping I have found, is a great deal. Especially when you find a place that hires you to do it, and you can still be on your own terms for when you do your secret shopping and where, and you can be you and not follow any scripting.

Bestmark is that place.   You do have to take a test prior to your first shop to show that you are in fact able to read and understand basic directions, but anyone can pass that test.  Once those formalities are done, you can pick from loads of different shops, be it retail stores, restaurants, hotels or automotive.   They even sometimes have phone shops where all you do is make a call!

Where you live will determine how many and what shops you have.    I live in a very rural area, but they still have dozens of shops within 50 miles of me.   In a major city that number dramatically increases.

bestmark

The other nice thing about Bestmark is that you can do shops when you travel. For instance, if you are on vacation- why not secret shop a hotel or restaurant?   You get free food or lodging plus a little extra cash for your trouble.

You owe it to yourself to check out Bestmark.   Click here to learn more.

Fidget Spinner by Aemotoy (all metal)

One important thing to remember when you are getting a fidget spinner is weight!   The solid metal ones are usually the heaviest, and therefore the most satisfying experience.   You also want one that operates with as minimal friction as possible so that it can spin for a really long time (at least 3 minutes is good I think).