Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Has Amazon lost its way?

We've leant fairly heavily on Amazon for the last few years. We aren't happy about their approach to corporate tax - though it's inevitable that a corporation will do what it's entitled to do to avoid paying more tax than necessary.

Incidentally, I think there's a way to fix this. At the moment, corporation tax is paid on profits. If a corporation that has the ability to declare income in different countries were to pay a lower level of corporation tax, and were to pay a sales tax (of say 1-2%), then I would have thought this would not discourage international expansion, but it would mean that it would be creating tax income in the country that it was earning money from. This isn't a thought-out idea - but I'm sure that there's something that could be worked on there.

Back to Amazon. Their sales operation has become more and more complex. They now offer fulfilment on behalf of other companies (where they hold and ship warehouse stock), they offer a sales front end for companies, and doubtless other mechanisms as well. The scale of the operation is such that they are probably using just about every shipping company that there is. Sometimes, this works incredibly well. For example, DPD are amazing. We get an email beforehand giving a one hour window in which the delivery will take place, and alternative delivery options.

But sometimes, and perhaps my imagination, but seemingly increasingly commonly, it doesn't work so well. This year, we've had a bunch of stuff that should have arrived next day which has turned up three or four days later. Several of the delivery companies don't have a tracking process, let alone one as good as that of DPD. One item was postponed on 23rd December to the 27th December, when it had been specifically ordered for Christmas delivery. Another item was picked wrong - somewhat incongruously, we got the French version of something.

None of these are that big a deal. I've little doubt that Amazon UK could argue that these are faults of contracting companies. But in previous years, I had the feeling that Amazon had all this stuff tied down, whereas now these things seem to be below their radar. Customer service is still exemplary, informative, polite and efficient. But when you find yourself needing customer service more regularly, you can't help but think that problems may be surfacing.

3 comments:

Matt Maxson said...

I ordered something last week for next day delivery...it showed up 2 days later. If it had been important I would have complained about it . i would have expected Amazon to make make right by refunding the difference in shipping. At least amazon.com would have done it I'm sure...

Dan Maza P.A. said...

interesting

Paul Fernandez said...

I think in the run-up to Christmas, as far as deliveries are concerned, they are really at the mercy of the courier companies, who don't staff for that time of year, but for quieter times. However, they acquired their dominance in the marketplace, and also their ability to get footholds in new markets and selling approaches, by being thorough, at least from the perspective of the customer. It's that thoroughness that doesn't seem to be there now.