Amazon fumbles simplicity

Years ago, I had a FewerNicer revelation:  buy everything with Amazon Prime.  It did not save money, but economized on something much more valuable:  time and attention.

Prime was not the cheapest, but ended shopping as we know it.  You think, “I need sunscreen and shaving cream” — one minute later, the order is in, the need struck from your to-do list, and you can get back to work, with barely any loss of focus.

Yet today, for the first time in years, I bought sunscreen and shaving cream from different sites.  Why?  As before, the change had nothing to do with price, and everything to do with time and attention.  Amazon is getting complicated, ruining their primary advantage.

My sunscreen brand is now sold only as an “add-on,” meaning I need to come up with $25 of other Amazon purchases before they will send me what I actually want.  Or I can wander  the site looking for another vendor of the same item at a higher price.  But this demands time and attention — exactly the cost I’m trying to minimize.

The shaving cream, a high-margin item, is now overrun with fakes and “new old stock,” sold by dubious third-party vendors that use the Amazon distribution network.  Again, I have to wander around the site, judging the quality and quantity of customer reviews, in hopes of finding the real item.  Decisions, decisions.  More time.  More attention.

Or, I can just go to the manufacturer’s website, buy direct, know that I have exactly what I want, and be done.  For today’s purchase, Amazon Prime lost the simplicity contest, which was my only reason for using it.

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