Thursday, December 7, 2017

Please Rate Your Purchase - And Buy More Crap!

Are online sites really interested in your opinion about purchases, or are they just using this as a gambit to get you to return to the site and buy more stuff?

I've noticed lately that every online site that I purchase something from sends me follow-up emails asking me to rate my purchase or review the product.  Amazon, of course is the king at this, but other sites such as eBay and Walmart are also at it, too.

Increasingly, I am thinking that they really are not interested in my review of the purchase or rating of the product but rather just using this as an excuse to get me to go back to the site and buy more junk. The online marketers call it engagement - the amount of time people spend on a site and how often they visit that site. The more you're engaged with a particular mercantile website, the more likely you are to purchase things.  They also want to make sure you return to their site and don't go to anybody else's.

Again, Amazon is the king of this sort of thing, with their "Prime" feature - a customer loyalty program, basically, to get people to exclusively buy things at Amazon rather than shop around on price.  Once you have a customer hooked on your site, you can charge them higher prices as they will stop cross-shopping with other outfits.

And again, many people think that sites like Amazon are "tech" companies, but they really just mercantile establishments and these loyalty programs are as old as the hills.  Back in the 1960's, the local gas station or grocery store would give you S&H Green Stamps which you could accumulate to purchase things like toasters and small appliances.  Or they gave you a free dish or glass with every fill-up or with so many dollars worth of groceries purchased, so that you would be induced to come back again and again to get a full set of dishware for your house.

The idea back then was to build customer loyalty - so that you'll always come back to the same store and shop around less on price.  Once you establish customer loyalty, you can then charge slightly higher prices and the customers may not notice, as they are no longer comparing prices with a store across town.

I'm not sure what the point of this is, other than today I'm less and less inclined to accept Amazon's generous offer to rate the purchase of the toothbrush or whenever it was I bought on their site, as I don't sincerely believe they care about my opinion, they just want me to go back to the site and possibly buy more things.

That's the name of the game, really.