As I report that Amazon has been making further inroads into the UK online shopping market, I realise it is probably an under-statement. As it was our go-to provider long before the holiday season it is no wonder we availed of the great selection of offers
during November/December. Free home delivery, the peace-of-mind from trouble-free returns and refunds and a reliable service has made Amazon the darling of many Brits over the recent past, as can be seen from the volume of reviews pouring into the site.
I was interested therefore to notice today that their "Subscribe&Save" offer earlier launched in the US is now available in the UK. The offer claims to provide regular users the ability to save up to 15% as well as gain free shipping on recurring deliveries.
To me this seems to be yet another step in the evolution of Amazon from book supplier to online provider of the first resort. For UK shoppers who are now spoilt for choice of online retailer with most grocery stores offering great home delivery options, this
appears to be designed to tempt us away, with a wide range of household items appearing on the site. With its legendary knack, while I was checking out the offer Amazon quickly suggested a few subscriptions, for items I had bought on a number of occasions.
I must admit this looks promising but may also have some unexpected consequences. From my past experience of launching digital content services in the UK, I recall the "Crazy Frog” incident where junior mobile subscribers unwittingly found themselves with
costly recurring subscriptions. I expect there could be a number of latent issues the marketing team must consider to ensure that people don’t end up with deliveries they did not expect and suppliers don’t have to contend with higher levels of refund.
On the topic of shopping on Amazon, within an overall great experience, I must admit I have recently found one aspect particularly irritating. Introduced over 2015, their "Add 0.01 p to get free delivery" never fails to irritate our household, and probably
a lot of UK online shoppers. A number of desirable products are priced at £19.99. However, one needs £20 of "applicable items" for home delivery and finding one that is fulfilled by Amazon or otherwise applicable is not easy. For people to save around £4 delivery
cost this means a painful job of looking through many items to find something that qualifies.
I find the concept of Add-on Items is itself an admirable one - quite unique and helpful both to consumers and sellers, making it feasible to provide low cost, small items online. However it can be most irritating to find an item that qualifies for the 0.01p
required, heave a sigh of release and lug it into your online basket only to find that it’s not made your delivery cost go away.
Not to mention the additional time you are forced to spend trying to save money on Amazon must come with a health warning as one can end up buying so much more than one planned – the shopping experience is so slick that it can be quite addictive! I think
the same will soon be said of a number of the other online stores that are burgeoning in the UK market, but as a delighted consumer I am not complaining (yet?).
PS: For full disclosure, I am not connected with Amazon in any way, apart from being a shopper and an interested observer of the way money is going digital, to power payments and commerce around the world.