Categories
Business

Amazon – destruction and revival

Amazon's LogoAmazon. A great big, greedy multinational company. Destroying countless companies and even eradicating whole industries in a matter of years.

France has recently taken measures to protect book shops, as it understands the devastating impact Amazon’s operations can have on a country. Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder) argues that “Amazon is not happening to book selling, the future is happening to book selling” suggesting that people want to buy books online now, and that virtual books would be rising in popularity without Amazon’s help.

In the UK, Amazon have come under scrutiny for not paying their fair share of tax.

BBC research suggests that the way in which Amazon treat their employees, means that their employees face a higher risk of mental illness.

There are numerous other scandals surrounding this online retail giant, but is it all bad? Believe it or not, Amazon is also proving a critical element in the survival of some industries and communities.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail and AmazonThe Royal Mail has had a turbulent decade. The internet has started to reduce the number of letters sent. Why pay to send a letter when you can send an email for free? Why fill your house with bank statements and insurance documents, when you can now access them all online? There are of course reasons why you might want to send a letter or receive a hard copy of something, however ultimately, the rise of the internet has significantly impacted the demand for postal services.

Amazon has actually played a critical role in the success of Royal Mail over the last few years. Yes if someone shops online, shops loose out on purchases, however online orders have to be delivered somehow, and the organisation with by far the biggest distribution network in the UK, is the Royal Mail. As a result, Amazon currently work closely with Royal Mail and provide the organisation with a massive amount of business.

So am I saying Amazon is actually good for Royal Mail? Well until Amazon opens up its own distribution network, and fills the skies with drones, yes, I think it is.

Rural Communities

Remote communities are often cut off from the rest of society in many ways. They often have very few local shops, which do not stock a wide range of goods, meaning local residents often have to travel miles to shop, or just go without. If you want to buy a new radio alarm clock (costing £20) do you take a 30 mile round trip to the nearest town to buy it, or do you order it on Amazon – probably for £15 – and have it delivered to your door the next day?

Without Amazon (and other online retailers) such communities would be cut off, leading to people either having to leave, or them feeling isolated and outdated.

Small Retailers

Like eBay, Amazon lets anyone buy and sell their goods through the site. Customers have the assurance that they will get good customer service, and if something goes wrong, Amazon will deal with the problem.

Many individuals now make a living from selling goods through Amazon. Some manufacturers sell directly through Amazon. Some people buy goods somewhere else and then sell them on Amazon for a profit. So Amazon is creating more jobs than just those who work for the company.

Authors

Amazing, J.K. Rowling struggled to get the first book of her Harry Potter series published. She was turned down several times, before she eventually managed to persuade Bloomsbury to publish her book. Amazon lets anyone publish a book. Nobody reviews it to see if it is any good, it just gets ran through a copyright checker, which determines whether it is original or not, and therefore how much of any profits the author is able to take home.

Our in-house expert on this is Mr Hankins, so if you want any more info, check out his article on the book he wrote and published on Amazon, and feel free to ask him question there.

Are Amazon another Google? Do they want to own everything, and destroy all their competition. Probably yes. But need everything they do be negative? No, almost everything they do will have some good related to it.

Categories
How To Guides Internet

Shopping online – tips and advice

When shopping online, there are loads of things to look out for, and loads of ways to get a better deal. In this article I hope to share some of the experience I have got from shopping online, and some of my tech knowledge in order to help you get a better deal – what you want, at a reasonable price.

The first thing to say is that what you are shopping for, is crucial to how to go about buying it.

Virtual Goods

If you are buying an online or ‘virtual’ good/service, then the key thing to check is that you are buying from a reputable firm. Checking the firm is reputable and reliable is key for all online shopping, but especially so if you are buying something virtual – e.g. a website, anti-virus software, access to a game, music etc.

There are a few ways you can go about checking if online firms are reputable. The first is to see if the firm exists in reality, do they have shops in the real world, or are they totally online? Firms with physical property are less likely to be fraudulent, as they are easy to find and locate. Totally online firms can be just as reputable, look at the likes of Play.com and Amazon.

Play.com's LogoThe second way to get an idea of whether a firm is reputable or not is to check their stats. Does the site have a good Alexa rank – top 500,000? If not, people may not be visiting the site for a reason: it has just been set up, and after a few quick cons will be gone. You can check the history of the site using the Way Back Machine for more info on its past.

The third way is a much less reliable way, but can be useful to back up your decision. Try looking at the websites PageRank. If they have say a PageRank 3+ homepage, they are more likely to be legitimate than a site with all PageRank 0’s. People link to shop websites when they buy things and then review them, so shops should acquire PageRank. If they have no PageRank, they may still be legitimate, but check, as that may mean they have not been trading for long, therefore have just set up to scam, and will be shut down soon.

Finally are they a big name. Say you are buying anti-virus direct from the supplier. Most people have heard of the likes of Kaspersky, Sophos and Norton, but if the company is called something like ‘SpywareBeGoneSolutions’ then they are a lot less likely to sell you a good product, if any product at all.

Kaspersky's LogoFinally, when checking that the firm you are going to buy from is going to give you the product(s) you want, watch the news, or research them on news sites! Is the firm about to go bust or being run by administrators? If so, buying from them may lead to you loosing your money!

Services

If you are buying a service, such as a holiday, insurance or a meal at a restaurant, then there are loads of really useful sites that can help you, by giving you an incite into what others thought of that service.

Say for example you are buying a holiday, you can use websites like TripAdvisor.com to see if the place you are looking at staying at has positive reviews. If not, you can maybe choose somewhere else. Be careful though, as sometimes these sites can be misleading, as Jonny recently wrote about.

There are other websites too like MoneySavingExpert.com and Yelp, which can offer similar services for other things like insurance, banking, restaurants, shopping etc. MoneySavingExpert.com is especially worth a look, as aside from reviews, they can give really good advice, to help you save money when buying all sorts of things.

Products

The key to ensuring you get value for money and what you want when buying products online is to make sure you read what other people think about it. Reviews are really useful, and can help you determine which product is right for you.

Don’t be afraid to venture out of the companies website itself, and look for more reviews elsewhere online. Some firms will only publish the positive reviews they receive on their own site, in order to try to persuade more people to buy that product, from them.

A really important bit of advice is not to discount the high street, it can still be a very good place to buy things. Often things are cheaper online, however you can usually see and sometimes try products when in a shop, whereas online, all you have is pictures and possibly video.

Once you know the product is for you, make sure that you shop around. Find the best deal using price comparison sites like MoneySupermarket.com and PriceRunner.co.uk.

Once you have your product and the shop, don’t forget to go to coupon sites to see if you can get an even better deal. Sites like MyVoucherCodes usually have some great discount offers, you just need to look.

To conclude

In summary, when shopping online, make sure that you are buying from someone reputable. Make sure the product or service is what you want. Check out other peoples reviews. Look for the best deal, and then finally don’t forget to check if there are any vouchers that could further slash the cost.

Hopefully these tips have been useful, good luck shopping online!

Categories
How To Guides Internet

How to be a smart online buyer

When you decide you want to buy something off the internet, how do you go about doing so? I’m not talking about getting your shopping delivered to your door, I am talking about buying something like maybe a laptop, digital camera or a new mobile phone.

Many people just look for the make and model they want and they go straight in for the buy. Do you? If so, you may want to read on, as you could save yourself a lot of money!

Say I wanted to buy a laptop, one of the first things I would do would be to go to a money saving site like Money Saving Expert in order to establish whether there are currently any great offers on laptops that other people on the web have noticed.

If you are still looking for the best type of laptop for you, try review and comparison sites like Test Freaks. These can help you decide what laptop to buy, as they can give you reviews that people who have bought laptops have written. They often also present data in a very easy way, often giving the product a score, based on its price, spec (and therefore value for money) and what peoples reviews are like – i.e. positive or negative.

Test Freaks LogoIf/once you have your heart set on a particular laptop, then your next step is to look for discount codes for that sit/product. Sites like My Voucher Codes can often save you 5-10% on your goods, simply because they know the latest discounts for your product. 5-10% might not sound that much, but if you are buying a £350 laptop (lets say $500) 10% is £35/$50 which is enough to buy you a really good travel case as well as a decent wireless laser mouse and a USB hub.

The final bit of advice I would give you is to take your time. When spending a large amount of money over the internet check reviews of the site you are buying off, to see if it is reputable, check that the item is exactly what you want and make sure you get the best price!

Often online sites have deals which change all the time, meaning that tomorrow that perfect laptop may now be 25% cheaper, as it was only higher priced so that they could bring it down and slap a ‘25% off!’ label on it.


Good luck making any online purchases 🙂

Anyone got any other advice/experiences to share?

Categories
News Technology

Tesco launches supermarket sat nav

Ever got lost in a supermarket? If so Tesco have now come to the rescue!

If you can’t seem to find those baked beans, you could soon be able to use a sat nav to help! Yes it’s the same sort of technology that you have in your car but it comes in the form of a smartphone.

Currently Tesco are trialing a new app for Google Android powered smartphones which allows you to enter your shopping list and then the phone will give you directions to the isle and shelf that you can find your items in. Pretty impressive huh?

Tesco LogoThe idea is that it saves you time, meaning you can be in and out much faster. This could make supermarkets less crowded in the future, which could mean less space is needed for people and more for food and other goods.

One of the key ways in which supermarkets like Tesco and Asda make their money however is when people spot products on the way to finding their next item. Often ‘special offer’ products will be placed in areas of the shop that you are bound to walk past and notice.

This behavior from the supermarkets has left some critics believing that supermarkets may program the device to take the ‘scenic route’ in order to get you to buy more, rather than get out quicker.

If you live in Essex, Tesco’s Extra stores in the area are currently trialing the system, so be sure to check it out and leave us a comment 🙂


Because the application is still under development, you have to apply to a testing group to be able to try out the new technology. Soon however, if the service proves successful, Tesco hope to role it out in all of its stores and on multiple platforms – Blackberry and iPhone being the next most obvious systems.

What do you think, could this really improve your shopping experience, or is the way forward online shopping anyway?