*kevin dean)

Skip Stores And Middlemen: Shop Directly From Chinese Wholesalers

Instead of buying inexpensive, mass-produced junk from China at your local big-box store, why not save time, avoid human interaction, and go right to the source? You can eliminate layers of middlemen by ordering from a wholesaler in China. It’s easy and affordable to do so online for everything from phone cases to wedding gowns, but should you? [More]

(Ben Schumin)

Online Shipping War: Amazon’s Shelf Robots Against Walmart’s Puny Humans

Amazon and other e-commerce companies have vast order fulfillment warehouses filled with shelves full of goods. Traditional big-box retailers don’t have the same kind of operations, but are trying to compete with e-commerce companies in shipping items directly to customers’ homes and to stores for pickup. How can they compete without building fulfillment warehouses of their own? By turning their existing stores and employees into a vast online order fulfillment operation. [More]

(Geoff Fox)

Can Retailers Make Us Stop Returning So Much Stuff?

After the holiday shopping frenzy is over, frenzy season isn’t yet complete: in malls and in post offices alike, shoppers then go into an item-returning and gift-card-spending frenzy. Unfortunately, this costs retailers a lot of money. Instead of accepting the cost of returns as a recurring annual thing, can they find a way to reduce them? [More]


Free Shipping Will Be More Expensive This Holiday Season

There’s no such thing as free shipping. What looks like free shipping from a shopper’s perspective is only subsidized shipping, and those subsidies come from shoppers. They could come in the form of higher prices, or higher spending thresholds to earn free shipping. This year, free shipping will cost you a little more. [More]

Spammers Take Advantage Of eBay Breach, Invade Etsy

Spammers Take Advantage Of eBay Breach, Invade Etsy

When the usernames and passwords of a big, popular site like eBay are compromised, consequences can spread beyond the original site that was attacked. It’s possible that users of selling platforms Etsy and eBay use the same usernames and passwords on both sites, since security staff at Etsy say that they’ve noticed an uptick in spam and account hijackings since the recent eBay breach. [More]

Zulily Takes Weeks To Ship Merchandise, And Customers Love It

Zulily Takes Weeks To Ship Merchandise, And Customers Love It

Flash-sale sites are merchants that offer items for a deeply discounted price, for a limited time and in limited quantities. (Woot is an example that most of our readers might be familiar with.) They became very popular during the most recent recession when high-end retailers had piles of merchandise that nobody wanted, but most of these sites have faded…except for Zulily. Why is that? [More]


Quit Wasting Money On Internet Impulse Purchases

The Internet has brought an amazing array of merchandise into our lives and onto our doorsteps. However, being able to order a crate of hamburger-shaped cookies from Japan or a complete DVD box set of “Friends” episodes at 3 A.M. during a spell of insomnia isn’t always a good thing. Especially when you’re trying to eliminate debt and/or cut down on spending. [More]


Amazon Now Using Lockers For Return Shipping

Do you know what’s an even worse problem for online retailers than customers who never get their packages? Shipping back the items that customers did receive, but don’t want. Fortunately, Amazon has found a way around this problem: since late last year, they’ve using their lockers designed for deliveries to send products in the other direction. [More]

(Joel Zimmer)

You Don’t Say: Study Shows That Bad Weather Is Good For Online Merchants

From the Global Department Of Studies That Tell Us What We Already Knew, a recent study of online retail data shows that while retail spending is down overall, shoppers spent more money online in January 2014 than in January 2013. What could the reason be? Well, speculates the company that did the study, maybe it’s because of the run of really crappy weather in highly populated areas of the country in 2014. [More]


During Shipping Frenzy, Amazon Limited Prime Memberships

Now that the Christmas shopping and shipping frenzy is over, Amazon is providing free extensions of their Prime no-limit free shipping service to shoppers whose packages didn’t arrive. Before the holiday, though, Amazon was actually limiting signups for Prime during peak periods. Maybe they didn’t want to clog up the shipping works with boxes containing single packs of cookies and other small impulse items. [More]

Maybe Calling Itself A “Showroom” Isn’t The Best Holiday Marketing Plan For Best Buy

Maybe Calling Itself A “Showroom” Isn’t The Best Holiday Marketing Plan For Best Buy

A showroom is a place where you go to look at stuff and think about buying it, but it may not necessarily be in stock or even available. In the e-commerce era, it has a slightly different meaning: the term “showrooming” means visiting a nearby store to check out an item in person, then buying that item online from a different company. [More]


Test Your Internet Knowledge With Consumerist’s History Of E-Commerce Quiz

We’ve mentioned it before and now Pizza Hut is proudly crowing over it again: The chain is laying claim to the honor of the first purchase ever made on the World Wide Web — a mushroom, pepperoni and extra cheese pizza back in 1994 — which brings up a good point: How much do any of us really know about the history of e-commerce? Take Consumerist’s quiz to find out. [More]


Walmart Erroneously Labels Me ‘Credit Risk,’ Won’t Send Data Plan Code

Kirk shops online a lot, but has never made a purchase from Walmart before. Apparently, this is some kind of crime, and has held up his online order of an activation code for his new T-Mobile prepaid plan. Walmart customer service calls him a “credit risk,” but T-Mobile thinks that his credit is peachy keen. [More]


Report: Google Nudging Into Amazon Territory With Tests Of Same-Day Delivery Service

That sound you hear is Google tiptoeing up to Amazon, ready to tap on its shoulder and be like, “Hey, I’m all up in your business.” The company has started testing a same-day delivery service called Google Shopping Express, which could help it move farther into the e-commerce world currently ruled by Amazon. [More]


You Can Buy Staples Gift Cards Online, But Can’t Use Them On Staples.com

Jenny has a problem with Staples, and happened to find a post that we wrote about the same problem four years ago. Staples, you see, has a web site and they have about 1,600 stores. You can buy Staples gift cards in many places, including from Staples’ own website. But back in 2009, you couldn’t use Staples gift cards to buy things on the site. You still can’t. [More]

Efficiency in action

Amazon’s Order Fulfillment: Efficiency Through Inefficiency

Is Amazon’s shipping system spectacularly efficient, or woefully inefficient? The company’s success has come from getting items where they need to be as quickly and efficiently as possible. Reader Jesse sent along an illustration of exactly how this efficient inefficiency works: the windshield wiper blads that he got for his car last week. [More]

(Ron Dauphin)

Target Sent My Package To The Wrong Address, Says It’s My Fault

It doesn’t matter where you tell Target to send your online orders: if your account has a “default address,” your packages will go there no matter what. Diana didn’t realize this. She thought that if she updated her billing address, then ticked the box that said her billing and shipping addresses were the same, her package would end up where she currently lives. Not so fast! Now the person living in her old apartment has her new jeans, and Target just blames Diana. [More]