We have a baseline on something that has simply become a way of life.
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Every now and then, as with any business, there are screw-ups.
But lately those screw-ups appear to be on the rise, and I think I know why. My theory is that in the drive to keep margins from crashing to less than zero, the likes of Amazon are either hiring less-qualified warehouse workers, or workers are increasingly unhappy, or the companies are relying more on automation that might save money, but doesn't know how to pack the way humans do.
As for the bricks-and-mortar guys, like Best Buy (BBY) , they simply haven't invested enough money into inventory systems to deliver on their promises.
Several recent examples, which seem to be rising with frequency:
- Products, including books, from Amazon are arriving damaged. I recently asked my Twitter (TWTR) followers about this. Some said they haven't noticed, but quite a few agreed that something has changed, especially with the way things are packed. (Good thing Amazon still has the best no-questions-asked customer service in retail to take away the sting. At Amazon, in our experience, the customer is always right.)
- We've been buying from Drugstore.com for years, but ever since Walgreen (WAG) bought, it everything seems to be dumped into a box without packing materials.
- My favorite. Over the weekend, I went to buy a phone case for my daughter that appeared to be available only at Best Buy. We bought the case online for pickup at one of two stores that showed available inventory. You can guess the rest of the story. Even though there were supposed to be two cases available, the store I went to couldn't find either. I called the other store. It supposedly had two, as well, but the store couldn't find them either.
Reality: As those of us who have been in online publishing since the beginning can attest, executing online is harder and more expensive than it looks.