Given the kind of depth Amazon has in online retail, along with its pioneering presence and global dominance, we can say the company will soon be India’s biggest online retailer, a market that is soon projected to have the world’s largest middle class. And the way it is moving up its product chains, it is leaving behind a widening gap for other biggies of the space, i.e., Flipkart, Snapdeal, Shopclues and so on, to fill.
Like many of its good initiatives, Amazon India started an easy to subscribe (and modify) ‘subscribe and save’ category last month. Under this category, buyers can monthly subscribe for products from among eight categories. Though the catalogue is pretty short, we can say it has begun on a good note. A customer has the option to opt for frequency of delivery – from one to six months – for each product.
There are two offers with this category that make it worth a pick.
The first is obviously the comfort of home delivery and Amazon has an efficient one.
The second is about the 10% discount on offer. If one subscribes for more than three products a month, a flat 10% discount on every product is yours.
Obviously, one can get a better deal in many wholesale markets of Delhi where the norm is between 15-20% discount. But here it is about the comfort of ordering from your smartphone or computer from anywhere you are, saving your flesh and soul from the nightmare of Delhi’s traffic and its overcrowded markets. I am talking about Delhi here because I stay here and my experiences pushed me to write this piece.
But in this case – with this ‘subscribe and save’ option – the comfort level of this convenient home delivery option is proving a burden, as well as an embarrassment.
I recount here.
Last month I subscribed for some 10 products under ‘subscribe and save’ category. Two were bathroom air fresheners from Godrej (Godrej Aer Pocket Bathroom Fragrance) – of different fragrances. These two were delivered a week apart. In fact, every product of my order was delivered on different days.
So, that is there where the problem lies.
Amazon sent its guys some 8 to 10 times, stretch over some 10 days, to deliver those products I subscribed last month if I am recollecting properly.
There is always these messages popping up that your products has been packed, that it is ready to ship, that it has been shipped, that it will be delivered today. With the usual tag line – please keep cash or your card ready! Here I would like to mention another thing – none of the delivery guys were carrying the card swipe machine – even if I asked for the one sometimes.
It wastes your time. There is always this leftover in your mind that you have to be at home as the Amazon guy would come to deliver the product.
Also, on a social/societal note, your neighbours would obviously think what has happened to this guy that he is ordering so much online, even if you ordered the basic stuff you need every month. The problem of plenty that was never there!
Does it make any better business sense?
I was thinking to call Amazon for many days to register my thoughts. Today I got my call patched. The guy on the other side sounded sincere on my complaint and he said he would send the feedback up. But he also said that it was due to the cycle of availability of products. Amazon makes a product available to its customers as soon as it reaches its warehouses and, according to him, that is the reason behind the multiple runs of errands.
So, Amazon is incurring loss here. It is what a common ‘common sense’ says. After all, you need to pack the product – that costs. I would say, again of Godrej air fresheners – a small strip worth Rs. 45 was in a packing that would obviously be costly. And as I wrote, I had ordered two.
Then there is this wastage of manpower hours. All the products from a single order, with a tag date of 11 of every month, can be delivered on any chosen day before that tag date. It doesn’t make sense to send 10 guys to deliver 10 products on 10 different days – of a single order.
Or does it?
Does Amazon India see any logical sense in this logistical spiral?
Because I believe I am not alone in thinking so!
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/
Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from Amazon India website