My daughter needs a purple wig for school, and she needs it by this Friday. When I got the news Monday night, I had just one reliable option—Amazon—and the rancid-tapioca feeling that comes with using it. The problem isn’t just the company’s rough track record with worker safety, or its devastating effect on brick-and-mortar stores, or knowing that I was about to toss more data into its insatiable maw. Despite all that, I’m still a Prime subscriber.
Lately, though, shopping on Amazon has become an exercise in frustration. My purple-wig search started with sponsored listings from unfamiliar brands with just a small disclosure noting that they’re advertisements. The organic results eventually do show up, offering hairpieces from brands with names such as DAOTS, MorvallyDirect, and eNilecor. Scroll only a little deeper into the sea of indigo fibers, and the sponsored items resume.
What happened to Amazon? The company no longer excels at the thing it’s supposed to be best at: shopping. Its unparalleled convenience and cost helped turn it into an e-commerce juggernaut, one that now faces an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission over alleged anticompetitive practices. Now around every corner lies a brand you’ve never heard of, selling a product you’re not sure about. Good deals on name brands are harder to come by. Amazon’s dominance has also transformed it into a different kind of company. Along the way, the famously customer-obsessed company has lost track of what its customers actually want.
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