Dr. Strangebedfellows or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Amazon

Over the Christmas season I had a craving for Cherries Jubilee, a decadent dessert featuring a warm Bing cherry sauce served over vanilla ice cream. I went online, downloaded the ingredient list and went to the grocery store. One ingredient, cherry extract, was not available in the store so I went to another and then another with no success. I went home and finally found a small health food store that offered cherry extract.  I drove to that store, bought the product and came  home.  The elapsed time from the start of my quest for cherry extract to securing the product? Nearly 2 hours.

I could have just as easily went to Amazon.ca and used my Prime subscription to order cherry extract from multiple sources delivered to my door in 2-3 days at the same or a lower price.

This is why more and more people are just ordering online.  I recently ordered Keurig coffee pods online.  In fact, if you look at the 20-30 of my most recent Amazon purchases – it is likely that a local store here in the Moncton region carried those products likely at a similar price.  Why can’t I find them online?

I think all retailers – particularly smaller ones – should be online and linked to a platform like Amazon.  Like eBay I should be able to find the products I want – general or niche – from a local supplier and not have to order from Toronto or even the U.S. for basic goods.

Further, those retailers selling highly niched products – birch bark essence for example – should be based here and selling those products around the world.

I’ve always found it strange.  I know that these little retailers would need to have some form of online-linked inventory and shipping system but there must be off the shelf systems for reasonable prices.

Most people would prefer to patronize a local shop to buy goods and services but they want convenience and are sensitive to price.  We can either give up that growing segment of the market or we can embrace it.

I think we need to embrace it.


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