Amazon.com is planning to launch a Canadian on-line site towards the end of this month. I have mixed feelings about this news:
I love the technology behind Amazon.com’s site, and have maintained a wishlist there for the last year or two – their recommendations system has pointed me towards some great books and products that I otherwise would not have known about. But until now, I haven’t really ordered anything from them, because between duty, shipping and the US exchange rate, it just wasn’t worth it – instead, I would place my book orders with Canadian on-line retailers like Chapters/Indigo. This felt good to me – in the end, I got some great recommendations from Amazon, but I was supporting Canadian business – something I feel very strongly about.
Now that Amazon is coming to town, I’m faced with a dillema – I know they’re going to be extremely competitive price-wise, and you already know how I feel about their technology. I really want to continue supporting our Canadian retailers, but there’s something to be said about convenience and good user-experience. I will certainly try to continue the same way I have been – if something is available at a comparable price from a Canadian retailer, I’ll send my business their way. But unless Chapters/Indigo and other Canadian online retailers begin to focus a little more on the technology behind their sites and learn some lessons from the Amazon model, I fear that their business may begin to dwindle.
In the online world, if you don’t fulfill a users’ expectations lightning-fast and transparently, you will lose that customer. The convenience of shopping through Amazon, where they carry just about everything under the sun at great prices, will be hard enough to compete with, but when you mix in their recommendations system and wishlist and other user-centered site features, Canadian retailers are in for some serious trouble.