I sometimes find myself wondering whether most online retailers spend their time with their fingers in their ears, muttering "La-la-la I can't hear you" in Amazon's general direction.
I was writing email to our administrative assistant,
about the fact that I'd gone looking for a 3-ring binder last night, and we don't have any 1-inch ones. Our admin is new, and kind of overwhelmed by the accumulated undone work, so I figured I'd look up the stock number on our office supply store's site. After initially fighting with wbmason.com just to get them to let me search for products (tell them my zip code, click the box saying my company is an existing customer), the initial results for "3-ring binder" was remarkably unuseful. Five of the first ten were, in fact, normal 3-ring-binders --- but all of the same brand, with the same slightly odd configuration (D-shaped rings), on the big side (1.5 to 6 inches). And all priced way high ($13 for the 1.5-inch). The other five items were pockets for used in 3-ring binders, a tabloid 3-ring binder, and and one more kind of normal but overpriced 3-ring binder --- this time, 8.5 inches thick.
They did, at least, have results-narrowing. So after clicking "binders" in the category list, waiting for that to load, and then clicking "1"" in the ring-size list, I got to a page with 3 results (and an upcopyable URL). Of those three, one was tabloid, one stupidly expensive ("Heavyweight Vinyl Slant-D 3-Ring Binder With Label Holder, 1" Capacity, Black" for $19.50), and the third, not outrageously priced, but weird ("Durable Flip Back Round Ring View Binder, 1" Capacity, White... Unique ring design allows front cover and paper to fold back and lie flat like a spiral notebook" for $7) That last might even be the best thing for my application --- but really, can they not show me a standard cheap vinyl 3-ring binder for comparison?
Since I'm going to Staples this weekend to get something only they carry (I've had a half-written post about that for months --- I'll finish it and post it soon), I figurfed I'd check @I site. At least I don't have to answer survey questions to do a search there (though that may be because I have cookies). I again search on 3-ring binder. They too have search-narrowing, but the categories are distinctly not useful, so I browse the results: 70 items, none under $10.
So I go to Amazon and do the same search. Top result is a 4-pack of 1-inch ring-binders, "Blue, Hot Pink, Purple, Green," for $13; #2 is a 1-inch binder for $4, and #4 a 1-inch binder for $3.
It's just not that hard to tune your search results to put the stuff your customers are most likely actually looking for first. It is hard not to conclude that the other two companies just prefer jerking their customers' chains.