Asleep at the Wheel

This quick rant is about Amazon.com. Before proceeding further let me assure you that I’m a big fan, having been an Amazon.com customer for over a decade. I’ve also successfully tested their A-to-Z coverage, with my shopping history including phones, camera lenses, lawnmowers (yes, several), as well as books. Yes, they’re great!

In an older post I pointed out that Amazon’s recommendation technology didn’t allow one to specify whenever they’re purchasing gifts for others. Consequently any such purchase used to throw it off, adding noise to otherwise useful recommendations. That got fixed since then, though it took longer than I thought.

These days I’m longing for another obvious yet missing feature: the ability to sort/filter by location. I purchase used books/music/videos quite frequently, and the default sort by price (increasing in the following screenshot) no longer does it for me:

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All online stores offer the above experience; nowadays it is the norm. If my shopping experience is any indication, an improved experience is within close reach, involving information that is already available, yet for the moment is blindly pushed from the seller database(s) onto the glass.

Personally I prefer local (or close-by) sellers vs equally (or even slightly lower) priced, but far-away ones. For the items that I buy used the shipping charges tend to be the same. Consequently, in the above example, assuming the item’s cost doesn’t vary wildly, I’d pick a seller from WA over one in CA, over one in TX, over one in MN, over one in NY. To begin with, the delivery time will be shorter. Then, assuming you care about your carbon footprint, the shorter distance translates into a lower environmental impact. However, although Amazon (or other commerce sites for that matter–this experience reflects today’s common practices) has this information readily available, it doesn’t allow me to pivot by location. Consequently I have to do it through visual inspection. Let’s see how long it takes until the location pivot becomes an integral part of the shopping experience!

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