Tag Archives: Amazon

Millennials Helping Change the Retail World

Millennials are helping all of us save a bunch of money in vast numbers of industries. They’re getting to being the largest group in the population, so retailers have no choice but to adapt.

One of them is with car repairs. Typically you take in your vehicle and deal with a service advisor whose job is to coordinate the work and to upsell you! Yes, they call it a treasure hunt – where they look for other work that could be done, or might need to be done sometime… The modern way has started at a service shop in San Francisco called Luscious Garage: No service advisor – you deal with the mechanic directly. That’s the person fixing it, and that’s who you communicate with, so it immediately takes out communication problems, the adversarial relationship, and the stress and pressure of being upsold.

The mechanic will text you with what they’re working on. So you might get a text update that they did the breaks, and here’s the picture of the newly installed pads. And there’s a hose leaking – here’s the picture of the leak. Want us to replace this hose for $30, and half hour labour cost? Customer love it – and that’s the wave of the future!

Online mattress purchases are only around 15% but that’s enough to drastically shake up the industry right now. The same is true for Gillette, which is in massive upheaval with an online retailer called Dollar Shave Club. It just take someone to find a better, cheaper, and more convenient way to shop. And it’s a great thing for an industry with massive markups. The industry has always been thought of as being right up there with buying a used car! Any upheaval will be your financial gain. The industry upheaval is to the point where Mattress Firm, the largest seller in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy.

The changes are for two reasons: Firstly, Amazon has now gone into the mattress business. Look at the companies that also sell them and their massive decline in stock prices when that was announced late last year. The other one is a company called Casper. They’re way cheaper and compress a mattress so it can be shipped via courier. And, from what I’ve heard, they’re supposed to be great. You can also go to Costco and buy one in a box. And they’re all compressed to be able to fit into the back of a Honda Civic – that seems to be the industry rule for shipping size. Plus, now you have upwards of three months to return it – try that with a traditional mattress purchase!

Virgin Hotels caters to millennials. One of the biggest pet peeves of customers on every survey is the quadruple priced stuff in the minibar. That $2 package of nuts for $9! Their hotels price it at exactly the same as stores in their area – period. Managers send a staff member to the nearest Macs and Walmart to get the price that they’ll use in the minibars!

George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com

Online Reviews, Story Ads & Amazon’s Problem

Someone last week emailed me an article by a pretty good financial tools website called Motley Fool. It was an article featuring a new credit card that they described as having “lucrative rewards and monstrous perks…sign up today while the card is still available…”

Sorry, but nothing in there is monstrous or lucrative and even more bad news: If you scroll down to the very last tiny font line it states that “this is a promotional message.” In other words, the company is being paid to send out this ad in the form of an article! No need to compare cards as this pretend article is guised in the form of a review.

Most people that buy online do look at a few reviews before they make a purchase. And, since Amazon is the giant in the online purchasing world, that’s the place people need to be careful. Since vast numbers of shoppers do the purchases on their phone, they tend to only look at the first two or three reviews and then buy, without scrolling down to pages and pages of other feedback.

The rumours have been around for some time that Amazon’s reviews are manipulated and can’t be trusted. Now, as first reported by Clark Howard, Amazon has admitted to it. Employees have taken bribes to take down negative reviews.

Why does it happen? You have to remember that most products are sold by 3rd parties on Amazon. Those sellers list on Amazon and mostly have the items shipped through Amazon for big fees and commissions. It’s their main source of sales and if the top two reviews are negative, people will move on.

For other sites, it might not be manipulations, but you have to remember that many – if not most – are sponsored sites. The sites get paid by companies to be prominently featured. If they’re not – they’ll stop paying to be on the site! In other words, you’re not getting a full or accurate rating on them. That’s something that the Wall Street Journal has documented for years.

Two of those are Canadian mortgage rates comparison sites:ratesupermarket.ca and rate and ratespy.com. Lenders pay to be on there, so you will see what those who are paying want you to see!

The best evidence of this is a recent ad by Angie’s list. It’s a site to find a variety of home contractors. “Angie’s list has selected millions of customer reviews…” Did you catch that? The words are: has selected – because they’re known to cut negative reviews, or those contractors won’t pay to be on their site! An investigative report found that they do that some years ago already.

Be careful when you’re looking at reviews or paid ads that seem like articles, and always scroll down to more than the first two or three reviews before you make a purchasing decision.

George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com

Sears, Amazon and Why We Can’t Do Our Own Investing

Ever wonder why retailers aren’t doing so well? Here’s a huge reason for it: Traditional retailers such as Sears, The Bay, Macy’s and the likes take 9 to 13 months to get a new clothing line from concept to production and into their stores to sell. Zella is a company with an extensive line of clothing. They can get an idea to production and into stores inside of two weeks! Two weeks versus a year. Wonder no longer why traditional retailers are fading quickly.

On the upside, Thursday Amazon announced they’d be selling Kenworth appliances online. Yes, Sears does have stuff people want – but now it’ll be online and in the U.S. only for the time being.

That announcement also shows why you and I really can’t do our own investing very well: When Amazon announced they’d be selling Kenworth, the stocks of other appliance retailers and manufacturers dropped by $12.5 billion collectively. From Best Buy to Whirlpool, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and the likes their stocks took a big hit. Now you and I may have figured out in a few days that, instead of Kenworth being gone, they’re now going to be a major player with Amazon behind them, but the Bay and Wall Street computers made the sell moves within a minute…

Speaking of investments, I’m going to make a bold prediction if you remember that I’m not an economist: The Bank of Canada can’t and won’t raise rates again until the U.S. does. The rate increase two weeks ago was based on thinking the U.S. would do one, too and they didn’t. The dollar is now way too high for our exporters and getting the dollar down is the main objective of the Bank of Canada. So they can’t do another increase, even if they wanted to, until the U.S. starts to raise them again.

Bad for savers, good for borrowers to get another reprieve…

Three Money Insights for Wednesday

Another huge wave of phishing scams are showing up in your e-mails. These two are predominantly from E-bay and Amazon. The Amazon one works for the crooks because so many people have dealt with the company. The e-mail will state that your order has been cancelled and to click on the link. Tons of people do and are asked to enter their password. Once that’s entered, the crooks can go into the real Amazon within minutes and place orders for hundreds or thousands of dollars and have them shipped wherever they want. Amazon allows third-party shipping and retains your credit card information on your profile.

Don’t click on an e mail – almost never. Go to the real Amazon or E-bay on your browser. And you can also hover your mouse over the hyperlink the crooks want you to click where the bottom left side of your screen should show you the actual web site it is re-directing you to.

If you want to save some money in the kitchen, stick to a budget, and/or reduce waste, there are two new web sites that are kind of cool. Both are set up for you to enter the ingredients you have in the house and will ‘translate’ them into figuring out what you can make for dinner with what you have! The two sites are www.saymmm.com and www.supercook.com

What would you pay to have lunch with one of the richest and most successful investment people in the world, Warren Buffet? Lunch with Buffet was auction off last Friday at $3.5 million. It’s an annual auction in support of the Glide Foundation helping the homeless in San Francisco. I’m sure it’d be great investment insights but at a big price…