Archive for March 19, 2020

Shopping online during the pandemic

I may have mentioned that I work at Amazon. If I haven’t, I do. I think Amazon’s great and I do most of my online shopping there but the pandemic is forcing me to do more shopping at more sites in the search for product availability of things I we want or need. Here are a few tips that have been helpful:

  1. Look beyond your favorite retailer. I typically shop Amazon, but I’m finding a lot of things sold out, so I’ve searched or turned to Target, jet, and Staples for things we want.  You might not think of places like Staples, but disinfecting wipes are definitely an office supply product and they have been available there.
    1. Reminder: if you *do* shop with Amazon, use smile.amazon.com when placing your orders.  When you complete orders from Amazon and use Smile, a portion (0.5%) of your order is donated to the 501(c)3 charity of your choice.  If you don’t use Smile, that money either goes to a referrer (who sent you to Amazon) or just goes straight to Amazon (which is actually not terrible…I mentioned I work for Amazon, right??)
  2. Beware price gouging. This really isn’t necessarily an Amazon-specific problem, but Amazon makes it very easy for Joe Random Stranger to sell anything online. This includes advertising things in the catalog at wildly inflated prices (I saw a simple contact thermometer this morning for $130).  I won’t say anything about what (little) I specifically know about what Amazon might be doing about this internally, but there is public reporting covering Amazon’s response to this which is to try to stop the practice. You’re making your own shopping choices but I just caution people to be aware of whether you think you’re being price gouged because there is still a lot if it right now (as the thermometer example makes clear).
  3. Look for product variations. You might see a page from any of these retailers who lists different variations for the same product on the product listing page.  Perhaps it’s wipes in a different scent or different unit count.  You might land on a page where the default variation is unavailable but clicking through the product variations will find you one that you want.
  4. Expect some delays, but don’t let that tempt you to hoard. Some things might not come for two weeks or more and this may make you want to hoard.  Obviously, please don’t buy excessively above a reasonable extent.  “Can’t get toilet paper for 2 weeks” needn’t trigger a Pavlovian response to buy a 6 month supply of toilet paper.
  5. Consider that some manufacturing is ramping up.  Related to the last point, consider that some things you can’t get today might become more plentiful in the coming weeks if factories are able to safely ramp up, so you *might* be able to cancel an online order in a week when local or other supplies are replenished.

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