retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports on how, for two years, “Amazon has been trying to get manufacturers to adopt ‘frustration-free packaging’ that gets rid of plastic cases and air-bubble wrap — major irritants for consumers and one of Amazon’s biggest sources of customer complaints. But the frustration persists. Only about 600 of the millions of products Amazon sells come in frustration-free versions.”

Part of the problem is that Amazon is fighting a lonely battle; the story notes that other major online retailers such as Walmart and Target have not adopted the alternative packaging even when suppliers have made it available.

Now, the Times writes, “Amazon, still determined to get more manufacturers to sign up, is making the case by taking the angry customer feedback on old-school packages directly to the product makers. Compared to the traditional versions of the products, frustration-free products have earned on average a 73 percent reduction in negative feedback on the Amazon site.”
KC's View:
I’ve gotten the frustration-free packaging on products that I’ve ordered from Amazon, and I have to say that it is an extraordinary advantage. Who among us has not wrestled with a plastic case, or gone after it with a knife or scissor halfway convinced that we’ll lose a finger before opening the damned item?

Now, according to the Times story, “environmental experts attribute the slow response to the intransigence of big manufacturers, the complexity in having different packages for physical retail and electronic retail and a lack of coordination among the major e-commerce companies.”

I put this in the same category as reusable shopping bags. It may take time to get a majority of people on board, but eventually it’ll happen. It simply makes too much sense for people and companies to resist forever.