Selling Products Online – Amazon Seller Central or eBay Auctions?

As an eBayer since November of 1999, I had the chance to watch eBay grow from a very basic auction site with hardly anything for sale and even less buyers to a full-grown e-commerce super site. Not only do they still offer standard auction style sales, but now you can open your very own eBay Store and populate it with as many items as you see fit.

And then there’s Amazon Seller Central. For years now, Amazon has opened its doors to sellers wishing to unload their new and used products to anyone wishing to buy. I have recently started using Amazon for this very purpose, so today I’ll explore the basics of both.

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Kindle Fire First Look and Review

I’ve owned the Kindle Fire for about 15 hours now and I’ve gotten a pretty good grasp on how everything works so far. I took some video recordings of me playing around with it, so check out the video below. I’ll start first by saying we should all stop using the phrase “iPad killer” to describe (or potentially describe) any new tablet device that comes on the market. I say this because just like with the iPhone, Apple will always retain a specific share of the market. They have a different eco-system that connects all their devices, so it’s hard to compare new devices and software.

With that said, it should be noted that if you’re using the phrase “iPad killer” to strictly define actual specs of the hardware, then the Amazon Kindle Fire is certainly not an iPad killer. However, that’s ok! In my opinion, it was never intended to be a direct alternative to the iPad. After what I’ve seen so far, the Kindle Fire is simply an e-reader with some extra bells and whistles—and for only $199, that works perfectly.

So, let’s get to it.



Kindle Fire
The Kindle fire is tiny. On Monday, I received the Marware Kindle Fire case that I purchased and it was the first time I got to feel what I was going to be holding the next day. I find that its smaller form factor (when compared to the iPad) is much more convenient. As a male, I don’t have the luxury of carrying around a purse or a handbag to be able to throw a hefty tablet into, so being able to carry the Fire around like a tiny book was key.

The weight of the Fire is 14.6oz which feels a bit heavier than an average bottle of water. This doesn’t seem to cause the same stress pains that holding an iPad will give you after some time. The combination of size and weight also make the Fire much more manageable with one hand.

The overall look of the Fire creates a very streamlined device that only has one button—no volume rockers, no switches and no home button. The Fire has only a power button located on the bottom of the device. This might be an annoyance to those who are used to adjusting volume and locking screen rotation on an iPad. Personally, I only miss having a physical home button. While the software does provide a home button on every screen, it disappears after a while and any unknowing users who may have happened upon your device would be hardpressed to figure out how to get back to the desktop. A simple tap anywhere near the center will bring up the home button and/or any available options for the item you have opened, but still…


Kindle Fire
I’m new to Android and although I had an Android phone for a short while, I’m not too familiar with how fast this OS should run. However, the Kindle Fire does boast a OMPA 4430 dual-core ARM A9 processor that clocks in at 1GHz. This, coupled with the Android-based operating system, creates a very fast user experience when navigating through your device’s content and opening apps and books. You’ll notice a slowdown when loading graphics intensive items such as a game or a full-color magazine, but nothing to complain about too much.

When reading books, the Fire is very responsive and has hardly any lag when turning pages, performing text searches and recalling bookmarked locations. As a trial, I signed up for the Kindle Fire-only Maxim magazine to see how well a full-color digital magazine appeared and I was pleasantly surprised. This is where the speed really shows its capabilities. Because the magazine is a direct copy, page for page of digitally scanned images, it runs a bit on the slow side. But we’re not talking about full seconds here…it’s just noticeably slower than reading through a standard Kindle e-book.


One very important note to consider before buying the Fire is that it only has access to apps within the Amazon-Android app store! This is different than the regular Android app store. The differences have yet to be fully explored yet, but I noticed it when trying to find the Chase Bank mobile app. I know they make an Android version, but so far, it is nowhere to be found on the Kindle Fire. I can’t say for sure why some apps wouldn’t be available, but I thought I’d point out that fact anyway just so you understand that you may not have access to all of the Android apps you’ve come to love.

The few apps I’ve installed so far (Angry Birds Rio, eBay Mobile, Netflix and Pandora) have all performed very well. They all load very fast and have no lag when running. One complaint I have about the apps is that there are a few default apps like Comics, ESPN and IMDB that come on the Fire (but aren’t necessarily installed) in which I can’t get rid of. Any app that you personally download and install can be removed by tapping and holding the icon and then tapping on ‘Remove from device’, but these other default apps are stuck with you.


Kindle Fire
The Amazon Silk browser seriously beats Safari on iPad. With tabbed browsing and the ability to return exactly where you left off (not always the case on iPad) make this browsing experience compelling to say the least. It was also refreshing to finally open a Flash webpage on a mobile device without being devoid of content! I haven’t played around too much with the Internet yet, but Amazon claims that over time, the browser will have cached enough data into the Amazon Cloud that it will be able to load pages faster based on previous web history and trends.

In other words, if you’re going to more shopping sites than blog sites, those pages will load much faster. Also, the ability to bookmark a webpage and have it stored exactly like it appears online is a huge bonus for people who might want to continue reading a page after they’ve exited a wi-fi area.


I’ve already discovered a few minor things that have irked me a bit. I’m sure in time, some of these will get fixed with software updates, but for now, here’s what I don’t like about the Kindle Fire.

  • No physical home button – Apple got this one right for sure. I love a streamlined look, but it’s always nice to have an actual button that will always bring you back to the start.
  • No military time – This is merely a preference, but you’re not able to show the current time in military format, which is commonly used around the world.
  • Can’t change home screen image – When the screen is locked, the background image randomly changes each time, but you’re not able to change it.
  • No app notifications – iOS devices put little notifications on app icons that have updates such as a little number counting how many emails are in your inbox. The Fire doesn’t have these.
  • No app folders – All you have is a favorites list that allows to you place your most used apps on the home screen, but you can’t organize them any other way.

My two cents

I could probably go on all day with the ups and downs of this device, but I’ll end it here and summarize with this: the Kindle Fire is a wonderful device for anyone looking to purchase an e-reader that has a lot of extra features. For me, I sold my iPad because I wasn’t using it as much as I thought I would. In my case, it became a super expensive e-reader so the Kindle Fire was the perfect replacement for me. At only $199.99, you can’t go wrong. Is it an iPad killer? Certainly not, but it is a worthy competitor and it will likely steal all of the consumers that are on the fence about getting an iPad or not.

The Kindle Fire Could Shake Up The Tablet Market

I’ve been reading the reviews about the Kindle Fire as well as watching demo videos among other things and I find it funny that everyone either says it’ll be an iPad killer or not. Why can’t it be neither? Why does every tablet that comes out have to be compared to the iPad? Well, the answer that most people will tell you is that it’s because the iPad is the number one selling tablet. While this is true, does that mean everything else should be compared to it? I don’t think so.

For one, the iPad isn’t all that great—on its own. What this means is that the iPad’s ecosystem is what holds it together. That ecosystem is comprised of iTunes (and everything in it), iPhone, iPod, OSX and iOS. iPad owners generally own the other devices in the Apple sphere and have a significant relationship with iTunes thereby sealing their fate as iPad owners forever. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to understand the reason why the iPad is so popular. Apple has done well in ensuring that consumers stick with them.

The same reason why Apple has done so well with the iPad is why other tablet makers have not done well at all. So when the comparison is made that a new device will be an iPad killer, the only thing they’re really talking about is hardware specs. Unfortunately, just like comparing smartphones, you can have the sickest device known to man—twice as fast, 3 times more memory, 20 new and unique features, etc., etc.—and you’ll still have a hard time touching Apple. People like the fact that their Apple device just plugs into iTunes and everything is taken care of. You don’t have to worry about where your music and videos are syncing. You don’t have to worry about buying new content and figuring out where you’re going to put it. It all just works in a nice handy little package.

Enter the Amazon Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire
The term “iPad killer” is useless to me because I’m aware that the Kindle Fire will not have the same specs and design features of the iPad. In fact, it won’t be comparable to the iPad on any of those levels and it’ll also be smaller! But if the iPad is so much better, why did I sell it 6 months ago and more importantly, why did I place a pre-order for the Kindle Fire on October 3rd?

The answer to both of these questions is this: I found that I had no real use for the iPad. It was a nice little toy that cost way too much money to call a “toy”. I bought it on a whim because I loved my iPhone 4 so much. Last but not least, the Kindle Fire is only $199.

The price is somewhat of a moot point for me because if I was willing to drop $629 for the iPad, I’m sure I’d do it again if I wanted to, but still…to think that I could buy 3 Kindle Fires for that much is depressing! Anyway, what sells it for me are a couple of things:

  • 7″ screen – While the 9″ iPad looks amazing, try holding it in one hand for longer than 30 minutes. Or how about carrying it around. For women, this isn’t such a problem because you girls have purses and bags. The Fire makes it very easy to hold in one hand—perfect for lugging around town.
  • No 3G – Who would have ever thought that I would say that?! The fact is that I didn’t like the 3G service on my iPad…not because I didn’t use it, but because it cost $20 per month. I would pay for 3G service on my MacBook, but I don’t need it just to sync content on a tablet. I can do that from my computer before I head off somewhere. Although it would be nice to have the Internet connection at times…hmmm.
  • Amazon Prime – I’m already a member enjoying free two-day shipping on Amazon products, so I might as well enjoy the free streaming on movies and tv shows. Not even iTunes can beat that! Sure, Apple has rentals and things you can buy, but so does Amazon! In fact, if Amazon Prime keeps growing their collection, they’re sure to beat Netflix.
  • It’s a Kindle – For anyone who has ever used a Kindle or just likes reading eBooks, it’s not very easily done on an iPad. Because of its size and weight, it can be difficult to hold with one hand.
  • Android Apps – You have full access to every app in the Amazon Android app store!
  • Storage Space – Even though the Fire has only 8GB of internal space, the Fire will store all of your Amazon content in the Amazon cloud for free!

Android Apps

There has been a lot of arguing about who’s app store is better and after the dust settles, you would be sure to believe that Apple’s 400,000+ apps is an amazing size compared to only half that for Android. However, are you really comparing how many apps each store has before declaring the winner? Anyone who owns an Apple iOS device and has browsed the app store knows that for every single app in there, there’s anywhere from 3 to 10 clones available. So in reality, there can’t possibly be over 400,000 quality apps.Kindle Fire Apps

The point is that the Kindle Fire will have access to many high quality apps already being enjoyed by Android device users. The major difference is that the Kindle is expected not to have the Android App Market, so users will have to get their apps through the Amazon Android App Store. This won’t be a deciding factor for most users and it really only affects those that have a bunch of apps already purchased in the Android App store that can’t readily be transferred over.

However, because of the Fire’s low price and compatibility, developers are bound to take notice and begin creating apps for the Fire at blazing speeds (I just had to!).

My two cents

As usual, time will tell whether the Kindle is a true contender in the tablet market, but considering how Apple has rounded out its offerings through the use of iTunes, iOS and OSX, Amazon is well on its way. By offering a device that connects users to their Amazon Prime account, their Kindle books and magazines, the Amazon Android App store and the Internet, Amazon is starting to show some serious competition to Apple. And because Amazon Prime continues to grow by adding more movies and tv shows available for streaming, they are well on their way to dealing a serious blow to Netflix as well.

Imagine if you could combine streaming movies, music and tv shows with the ability to purchase real products shipped to your door in two days for free, have access to Android apps, use the Internet, store files in the cloud, buy and rent movies, purchase music, listen to music and read eBooks all on a little full-color 7″ device that weighs less than a pound (14.6 oz) and costs $199…what would you do?

Stay tuned on November 16th as I write a full report about the Kindle Fire.

Amazon's Entry Into The Tablet Industry: Kindle Fire

On September 28th, Amazon launched a new addition to their Kindle family called Kindle Fire. In true Kindle style, it’s being marketed as a reading device, but this one is much different. Up until now, all Kindle devices were small, lightweight, monochrome devices that didn’t even had touchscreens.

The Kindle Fire is poised to be a real contender to Apple’s iPad, but at the same time, it may not be. What this means is that the Fire seems to be geared for a particular market. That market belongs to people that have yet to find a use for a $500+ iPad, yet they want something bigger than their smartphone.

Kindle FireIn terms hardware, the Kindle Fire has a smaller screen, lacks any type of camera or microphone, only offers 8GB of storage and has no 3G option. Any respecting Apple fan would probably be jumping at the opportunity to slam the Kindle Fire right about now, but let’s take a more practical approach.

Unique Kindle Fire Features

  • Access to the Android app market – Every single app you can access for your Android phone will be available for Kindle.
  • Access to and the Kindle store – Purchase items from any part of Amazon and have them delivered to your house or your Kindle.
  • Amazon Silk web browser – Amazon’s new web browser that takes caching to a whole new level.
  • Amazon Cloud Services – All your Amazon-purchased content is stored in the cloud freeing up precious storage space on the Kindle Fire.

First of all, I used to own an iPad and although I really liked it considering I own a MacBook and was using iPhone for over 3 years. However, I noticed I wasn’t using it as much as I thought I was going to and in the grand scheme of things, I couldn’t find my niche. Ergo, I decided it wasn’t worth the $629 I paid for it.

Second, the iPad may not be superior in hardware specs compared to other tablets on the market, but that’s not the reason why it’s the number one seller. What makes the iPad (and every other Apple product for that matter) sell better than most everything else is iTunes. Whether you’re conscious about it or not, iTunes is the lifeblood to all Apple mobile devices. Consumers want to be connected to a central outpost to get all of their apps, games, books, movies, tv and music. So far, nobody has succeeded at this because nobody else but Apple runs iOS and iTunes.

That is until now. Amazon has been building their network into a full-service venue. Currently, you not only have access to everything you can get on iTunes, but you can also purchase just about anything you else you could think of. Amazon Prime members not only get free two-day shipping, but also unlimited access to streaming movies and tv shows. At the rate Amazon is going, they can potentially replace iTunes, Hulu and Netflix as the goto place for everything digital. All they need now is a device to wrap everything up in a nice package. Come November 15th, we’ll get to see their first attempt.

My two cents

Do I think the Kindle Fire will kill the iPad? Not at all. There is always a market for premium products and Apple is the headliner in that market. The Kindle Fire is geared to bring digital book readers into the vast world of digital media and entertainment. Those people who’ve been on the fence about getting their hands on a tablet or trying to justify the expense of doing so no longer have an excuse not to. The Kindle Fire is priced just right at $199 and even though it’s missing some features compared to the iPad, you have to ask yourself are you going to miss those features? Seriously, when are you ever going to hold up a huge iPad and use it to take photos?

The bottom line is that the Kindle Fire can do practically everything the iPad can do in terms of the “actual” use you’ll get out of such a device and given its smaller size, you should be able to hold it in one hand. Try that with an iPad and not only will you get tired fast, but you’ll be afraid of dropping it.

California Affiliates for Amazon Welcomes Nexus Law Repeal

On June 28th, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law a nexus tax law (ABX 1-28) aimed at online retailers doing business in California. Almost overnight, this new law shut down countless affiliate marketers who work from home selling products from online retailers such as The law’s intention was to quell the complaints from small businesses that operated traditional “brick-and-mortar” storefronts and couldn’t compete with the low prices of their online equivelents. Adding to this the fact that online retailers could run their operations in states that charge lower taxes for business, retailers like Amazon could sell goods to California residents at lower prices than anyone else.

For as long as California has been collecting taxes on businesses, the law stated that any business operating within the state that had a physical presence there would be subjected to state taxes. When online retail took off, companies were able to skate around this law by simply not have a physical presence in the state. The new law was to close that loophole and essentially define California-based affiliates as the “physical presence”. While this may have been a huge sigh of relief for local small businesses, it dealt a heavy blow to the thousands of affiliates who depend on commission sales for a large portion of their income.

Of course, Amazon was opposing this law from the start and over time has contributed over $2 million to have it repealed. It appears that this day has finally come. Now that Governor Brown has signed the repeal, here is how the process will work:

  • The California affiliate nexus provisions of ABX 1-28 enacted on June 28 are repealed and no longer of any effect, and also will not be enforced with respect to the period from June 28 through the effective date of AB 155 (i.e., the date Governor Brown signed the bill);
  • If no federal legislation is adopted over-ruling Quill before July 31, 2012, then the California affiliate nexus provisions (as re-stated in AB 155, with one important change, noted below) will become law on September 15, 2012;
  • If federal legislation overturning Quill is adopted by July 31, 2012, and California does not implement the requirements of such a federal law by September 14, 2012, then the California affiliate nexus provisions (again, as restated in AB 155, with the change noted below) take effect January 1, 2013;
  • If federal legislation over-turning Quill is adopted by July 31, 2012, and California implements the requirements of such a federal law by September 14, 2012, then the affiliate nexus provisions of AB 155 will NOT take effect.

My two cents

As a former and now current Amazon affiliate marketer, I am all for this repeal and hope it remains permanent. After all, Amazon has been fighting this battle for some time now when other states have enacted similar laws and received no major positive results. In fact, those states reported more bad than good. California’s attempt at finding new revenue streams has failed in this case and as a marketer myself and online shopper, I applaud their efforts and hope that California will never look at this law again.

It's Official – Amazon Severs California Affiliate Program

I just got the email today stating that Amazon Associates is no longer “doing business” with California. It appears that Governor Brown had signed into law a reform that forces online establishments to pay (and charge) sales tax on purchases.

Proponents say that the new law will create a more level playing field for smaller businesses and big-box retailers to compete with online businesses. Amazon and Overstock both feel the law is “unconstitutional” and counterproductive. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not charge taxes on businesses that did not have a physical presence there, but California has just side-stepped that ruling by declaring that affiliates and other “partners” are in fact a physical presence. So what does this mean? Amazon will still be doing business in California in terms of sales (and charging sales tax now), but they will not be sharing any commissions with California-based affiliates. I can’t imagine how those people feel who rely 100% on those commission dollars each month!

Again, this is an effort to curb consumers from skipping out on paying sales tax by purchasing online. In other words (and my opinion), it takes the choice out of the customer’s hands. Most of us who shop online do it for convenience as well as lower prices. If California wasn’t such a very un-business friendly state, then maybe more businesses would want to take up residence here. The way I see it is California has made it near impossible to run a business in the state, so most large corporations leave. Then when they come back to sell products, California wants to charge them taxes just for doing business.

Here’s the email:

Unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the bill that we emailed you about earlier today. As a result of this, contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective today, June 29, 2011. Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to,, MYHABIT.COM or Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect your ability to purchase from,, MYHABIT.COM or

We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. As mentioned before, we are continuing to work on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.


The Amazon Associates Team

My two cents

Personally, I didn’t make too much money off the Associates program, but that’s not the point. The fact that I can’t participate anymore really annoys me. To think that there are 6 other states who have passed similar laws and have NOT achieved any of the promised changes should be proof enough that this won’t work here. So what if the state plans to rake in about $317 million more tax dollars…do you really think they’re going to spend it wisely? Probably not…just more raises and bonuses for the upper management and more insane benefits for state workers.

Oh well, only time will tell. I hope California is doing the right thing because we’re in such a financial sinkhole it’s depressing.

Amazon Associates Closing in California

I just got an email from Amazon in regards to my Associates account because I’m a California resident. For those that don’t know, states that collect taxes on retail purchases impose these taxes on all retailers (and anyone else) who do business in that state. For years, this has only covered those businesses with a physical presence in the state, but now, California is attempting to impose these taxes on partners and affiliates of said company as well. For example, if Amazon moved its main facilities to another state (which it did), they would not collect taxes on any items purchased in California because they don’t physically operate here. Instead, they might sell items through other business partners and affiliates that can help get items out to California residents better also without collecting taxes.

The new law simply accounts for those affiliates and business partners located in California as a physical entity, thus taxes are due to be collected. Those for the argument claim that collecting these taxes will help ease the suffering of brick and mortar operations trying to compete with big online retailers. Those against it say that these online retailers will simply close up shop in those states and work out of somewhere that doesn’t impose these taxes. For the consumers, it just means that if you live in California, you will be paying the California state tax on things you purchase online—thus prices will be higher.

Here was the email I was sent today:

For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of California residents. Unfortunately, a potential new law that may be signed by Governor Brown compels us to terminate this program for California-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers – including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you – even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

As a result, we will terminate contracts with all California residents that are participants in the Amazon Associates Program as of the date (if any) that the California law becomes effective. We will send a follow-up notice to you confirming the termination date if the California law is enacted. In the event that the California law does not become effective before September 30, 2011, we withdraw this notice. As of the termination date, California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to,, MYHABIT.COM or Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned on or before the termination date will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect their ability to purchase from,, MYHABIT.COM or

We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. We are also working on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.


The Amazon Associates Team

My two cents

I guess it would have been ok if I could still run my affiliate program to help with offsetting some of the server costs for my site even if that meant paying some taxes on it, but it looks like Amazon is taking a different route. Instead of operating under a new tax law, they’re closing down operations altogether. Of course this doesn’t mean Amazon will cease to exist as a retail establishment to California residents—it just means we won’t be able to help them sell their products while making some commission.

To read more about the online sales tax laws that are ready to be signed into law around September, check out this site.

The Future of 'Big Box' Retailers

I started at Best Buy as a seasonal digital camera sales rep in 2002 and ended as an agent of the Geek Squad in 2010, just shy of eight full years. Among the many, many things I learned about retail, technology, people, customers and business, the one question I constantly asked myself (and still do to this day), is how much longer can outfits like these survive?

In our morning meetings, we often heard the latest reports about what our competitors were doing and how we were supposed to respond to changes in the market and I remember a specific statement that was said about Walmart. It was along the lines of ‘People are using [Best Buy] as a means to get informed and then taking this knowledge to Walmart to get the better price.’ What struck me more about this than its truth was that I was also doing that very thing! The difference for me, however was that I was spending my money online. What made me think about all this was I happened across an article about the future of Best Buy and in it, Don Reisinger said:

“For people, like me, getting more comfortable with online purchasing, I simply don’t know what would stop me from using Best Buy as a research center. I can go to the store, check out a new camcorder or surround sound system and then decide if it’s something I want. If it is, I’ll ask the manager if they can match Amazon’s deeply discounted price. If he can, I’ll buy it at Best Buy. If not, I’ll go home and order it online.”

The answer to the implied question is the only thing that would stop someone from doing that would be a price match. I doubt even great customer service can save them in the end.

Online Shopping

So what makes people shop in a store rather than shopping online for the convenience and cost-savings? The short answer might be trust. I think we still have a large group of people (mostly in the older generations) that don’t have a full grasp of the concept of the Internet and people are naturally fearful of what they don’t understand. You mix this in with the horror stories of online identity theft, items that ship broken or bad eBay experiences and you get a recipe for disaster.

In my opinion, it’s actually safer/more economical/better to shop online! There…I said it! Let me explain why I believe this:

  1. Credit Cards: Shopping online requires the use of electronic payments and therefore you’re not lugging around a wad of cash or an antiquated checkbook into a store that can target you for theft (or loss).
  2. Fraud protection: Check with your credit card company…I can promise you that if you use your credit card online and there is even the slightest hint of fraud, you will get your money back.
  3. Price: No or low overhead (stores, sales people, etc.) equals lower prices.
  4. Co2 footprint: Reduce your carbon emissions by not driving to the store and sitting in traffic.
  5. Convenience: Patience is a virtue and even though you have to wait for your items to arrive, the added bonus of being able to use your iPhone to make a purchase while you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school is much better.
  6. Availability: Sometimes online shops do go out of stock, but not nearly as often as a regular store.
  7. Selection: Try walking into Best Buy and choosing from over 13,000,000 songs like you can on iTunes.

Above all, the deciding factor for me is simply price. It’s very hard to find a product in a store that can’t be found online for less. Plus, online, you sometimes have the option of buying overstock models, discontinued items, lightly used items and refurbished products–all of which can knock off lots of dollars. In my case, I worked at Best Buy and they give all their employees an employee discount. In case you were wondering how much, it’s cost plus 5%. This equates to whatever the cost Best Buy paid for the item and an additional 5%. Anyone who knows retail knows that low margin items such as computers, anything made by Apple, music cds and older DVDs don’t give you much of a discount where as higher margin items like printer and video cables, accessories and some software can range dramatically.

Interestingly enough, I found that my discount actually cost more than some items online! In other cases, if something was on sale (like a new DVD release), I would end up spending more if I processed the transaction with my employee number!!

Anyway, having a brick and mortar store is nice because if offers these advantages:

  • Physical product you can touch and play with or test out.
  • Live human beings you can talk to and ask questions or hear opinions.
  • A real shopping cart you can stand on and fly down the aisles.
  • Instant delivery of product.

If all those matter to you, maybe shopping at an actual store is your style or maybe you just like to use a store to do research and then take your money elsewhere to get a better price like the rest of us! At any rate, I’m not proposing that Best Buy simply shut down and disappear, but I do think there’s something to be said about the convenience and selection of stores like

In fact, their new slogan is, “Earth’s largest selection.”