Saturday, July 17, 2010

What are Amazon doing?

I just bought a book. It cost be £9.49 from Book Depository. Shipping is included in their price. Before buying it, I checked Amazon's site. They wanted £8.43 but they also wanted £4.98 to ship it to Ireland! The book was eligible for "super saver shipping", so if I was buying more than £25 worth of books, the shipping would be free but I wasn't so that's beside the point.

If Book Depository can do the whole thing for £9.49, there's no way on earth it is actually costing Amazon anything close to £4.98 to ship 1 book to Ireland. So I really wonder what's going on. Are they trying to discourage single-item purchases? Are they ripping off the Irish (why leave that to the Irish?) Does it really cost them that much to ship a book? Is Book Depository losing money on this?

I'd love to know what's really going on. I sent them a mail. I already bought the book from Book Depository but I figure there's no harm in encouraging some competition.


science and math said...

All these big companies like amazon , google just thinks of profit , They don't think of service and people's good.

Fergal said...

I work at Google :) so I will not get into an argument about Google since people on the inside have access to an entirely different set of "facts" to those on the outside. If we don't share the same axioms, we won't prove the same theorems :)

As for Amazon, I do not like them very much and rarely use them. However it seems pretty clear to me that their profits actually come from the fact that they do think about service. I agree they probably don't prioritise "people's good" but there are many, many happy Amazon customers who give them repeat business, so it's in Amazon's interest to pay some attention to that.

That is why I was so surprised by their overcharging for postage. They lost a sale as a result and I'm quite curious what the pay-off for them is. Do enough people then go and bulk up their order to qualify for the free shipping?