January 17, 2012 Leave a comment
Published: January 15, 2012 By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD and CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Harold Pollack used to spend $1,000 a year on Amazon, but this fall started buying from small online retailers instead. The prices are higher, but Dr. Pollack says he now has a clear conscience.
“I don’t feel they behave in a way that I want to support with my consumer dollars,” Dr. Pollack, a professor in Chicago, said of the big Internet retailers.
Giant e-commerce companies like Amazon are acting increasingly like their big-box brethren as they extinguish small competitors with discounted prices, free shipping and easy-to-use apps. Big online retailers had a 19 percent jump in revenue over the holidays versus 2010, while at smaller online retailers growth was just 7 percent.
The little sites are fighting back with some tactics of their own, like preventing price comparisons or offering freebies that an anonymous large site can’t. And in a new twist, they are also exploiting the sympathies of shoppers like Dr. Pollack by encouraging customers to think of them as the digital version of a mom-and-pop shop facing off against Walmart: If you can’t shop close to home, at least shop small.
“Folks are exercising their desire to support local stores where local is not just in their town, but anywhere in the country,” said Michael Walden, a professor who studies regional economics at North Carolina State University. “A large number of Americans have a general suspicion of bigness in the economic world — they equate bigness with power, monopoly.” Read more of this post