Enough little fish can beat a big fish
Posted by aogSunday, 02 January 2005 at 11:25 TrackBack Ping URL

Via Instapundit, Pubblog writes

Everyone is still expecting Walmart to eat Amazon’s lunch, but it isn’t gonna happen. The Walmart corporate culture is: lots of stuff, low prices. The Amazon corporate culture is: the user experience is all. On the web, the user experience is all.”

Instapundit adds

I like Amazon very much, but I hope that there’s more competition in the online market than this suggests. On the other hand, I can’t think of the last time I bought from Overstock.com, I forgot that Buy.com was even still in business until a reader mentioned it recently

Hmmm. I hardly ever buy anything at Amazon and I do almost all of my non-essential shopping on line. I suppose my shopping habits (techno-geek gadgets, computers and rocketry) isn’t the standard profile of an Amazon shopper.

It’s certainly true that on the web, user experience can overcome noticeable price differences. Amazon is definitely one of the better websites in that regard. I tend to prefer speciality shops myself (such as Oriental Trading Company for cheap trinkets and CyberGuys for techno-gadgets). These are generally small enough to send catalogs of items, which are still easier to browse than the online equivalents. I think Instapundit is in fact underestimating the on-line competition for Amazon. I can see Amazon becoming the WalMart of the online world, but WalMart’s existence hasn’t eliminated strong competition from places like Target and Amazon’s dominance won’t eliminate more specialized shops on-line either. I expect that nimble niche competitors will be enough to keep Amazon in line even without a major competitor.