retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There was an MNB reader the other day who accused me of being obsessed with Amazon, suggesting that I couldn't go a day without writing about the company.

Frankly, I didn't even debate the point …I just think it is a compelling and fascinating retail story that seems to reveal new chapters almost every day.

Well, another MNB reader decided to apply a little scientific theory to the issue:

I agree, Amazon is an on-going story. One of many.

However, just to test a theory, I ran all 5 of last week’s MNB articles through a word counter. I excluded all ads, but did include the commentary of your fellow MNB writers as well as all posted “your views.”

The details and density are below.

Amazon is the third most used word for the week. The only words with more frequency are “story” and “food”. All of the top 10 you would expect to see considering the content and nature of your site – Reports, Business, Company etc, but Amazon is the only Name that hits the top 10. Even MNB isn’t in there.

So – Obsessed? Or simply paying attention?

I guess it’s a matter of writing it… or having to read it, over and over again.

13152 Words
76753 Characters
63859 Characters (no spaces)
Sentences 567
Paragraphs 451
Avg. Sentence (words) 24
Avg. Sentence (chars) 136

Keyword Density
51 (1%)story
44 (1%)food
43 (1%)amazon
36 (1%)reports
30 (1%)business
30 (1%)company
28 (1%)stores
27 (1%)customers
27 (1%)people
25 (1%)time

Well, I hope folks don't think they are reading the same story over and over. My goal is to do stories that look at the company from a variety of angles … but it also is to provoke people to think about their own businesses from a variety of perspectives, and often Amazon provides a good prism through which to examine one's own efforts.

I used to get emails complaining that I wrote about Walmart too much, and then Tesco, and at one point the complaints were about Apple.

To be honest, there isn't much I can do about it … and there isn't much I want to do about it. MNB is, as much as anything, a reflection of my own tastes and interests, and I hope that it is illuminating more often than not. If I get to the point where I start counting anything, I'm not going to be doing what I think is my job.

On another subject, MNB reader Philip Herr wrote:

Interesting juxtaposition of stories. One about hacking our information and the other about handing over our daily routines in order to get weather reports – and risk that information being stolen, giving thieves the schedule for break-ins. I don’t plan to sign on.

Excellent point. I didn't see the juxtaposition … but you're absolutely right. There is a point when all this information sharing is going to be too much.

Responding to our story about Walmart saying that public assistance cuts could impact its bottom line, one MNB reader wrote:

Walmart was losing low end customers to dollar stores regardless; could the complaint about public assistance cuts be a case of Execs conveniently blaming "government" for soft sales, rather than face competitive reality?

Dollar stores are better & better merchandised, with better & better stock management logistics, broader & broader product lines- and less & less stigma attached to shopping there.

Walmart has 'moved up' - their stores are no longer 'low rent', nor is their clientele. That may imply the opportunity/risk to become 'the Sears' of this era.

And marketers know there are risks to being in the middle.

At the risk of another mention of Amazon, here's another email from an MNB reader:

For whatever reason, I haven't got around to renewing my Amazon Prime membership. I always loved it, but after it was cancelled I looked at my usage - which was less than 20 orders -- and decided to go it alone.

So far I have placed two orders and have had no problem at all buying enough stuff ($35.00) to qualify for free shipping. Oddly though, in both cases the checkout communications read "Free two day shipping"  The first package came in the advertised two days. My most recent package -- ordered yesterday in the AM -- just showed up at my door this (Tuesday) afternoon. Once again, Amazon is exceeding customer expectations. But the box I am looking at reads "Amazon Prime for free two-day shipping!"

Clearly they are at an odd place. At this point, the only real benefit I can see from Amazon Prime is the ability to buy something small (i.e. a computer cable) that is less than $35.00 and still qualify for free shipping. Even in these cases though, shipping is usually $3.99. At this rate, I could still make 10 "one item purchases" (i.e. less than $35.00) with shipping @ $3.99 and still come out $40.00 ahead for the year.

But the point remains: How to differentiate Amazon Prime when you are offering "Free two day shipping" on many - if not most - orders over $35.00. They are delighting me - to the point that they have rendered Amazon Prime all but irrelevant to my shopping habits.

KC's View: