Amazon's Jeff Bezos Doesn't Understand Female Shoppers

Update: After the takeover, so far, Whole Foods has dispensed with Amazon's online return policy and does accept poor quality vegetable returns.

This article was first published by me on Talkmarkets:

While it may seem like a bold statement, that Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos does not understand women shoppers, the truth is in some areas he doesn't.

When it comes to grocery shopping, there are a few things that he will have to understand. With the acquisition of Whole Foods, it is expected that a delivery service could arise. For some people, this could be an important service. Amazon may increase the Whole Foods market share. There is no doubt about it. But it is not without significant risk.

But, Bezos underestimates the power of the female shopper. I know people with disabilities who shop in store and online, for store pickup. These services are available in most regular grocery store chains, although not necessarily at every store.  I know one disabled person who has returned produce because of poor quality, more than once. When you have someone picking produce for you, they sometimes get it wrong. They often get it wrong.

She is disabled, and sometimes uses the online/pickup method. But she does not stop shopping at a physical store. It all depends upon convenience and what she feels like doing. Women like the experience of shopping. Bezos doesn't get this at all, and neither does Mark Cuban, who says people's time is the most valuable thing.

No, that is wrong. When it comes to produce, quality of product is the most important thing. The quality of product far exceeds the importance of time for most women shoppers.

And here is where Amazon will have a lot of difficulty. Amazon has a horrible return policy already. It is one of the worst among all retailers. The policy differs depending what product is purchased. And there is a restocking fee on almost everything.

Amazon's return policy regarding groceries is simple. They cannot be returned! I would look for that policy to change before trusting any acquisition of groceries at a Whole Foods store. Here is Amazon's terrible return policy regarding groceries, from Kiplinger:

Amazon won’t accept returns of the following 12 items: games and software downloads including apps, videos and digital music; gift cards; groceries (including Amazon Fresh and Prime Pantry items, though refunds are possible in cases of spills or spoilage); customized handmade products with personalized inscriptions or designs (unless there’s an error or damage); hazardous materials including flammable liquids or gases; fresh flowers; live plants; live insects (Amazon sells everything from ladybugs to Madagascar hissing cockroaches); prepaid phone cards; prepaid game cards (for Xbox, Wii, etc.); theme park tickets; and wine.

Women will not tolerate a restocking fee for produce, and a soft melon will not qualify under spoilage. The truth is, Amazon will most likely not allow returns with a home delivery grocery service or will require a stiff fee. It just won't happen, at the peril of the retailer who tries to make it happen in the grocery world.

Amazon regularly makes people angry. People get angry about its treatment of workers. People get angry about the return policy. People get angry at the arrogance of the company. And investors should get angry that it will cannibalize itself when it tries to take over all of retail, destroying its own customer base.

I personally cannot see Amazon going out to a house to pick up a soft cantaloupe. It is a gimmick for Amazon to go into groceries, as is much of grocery high finance. They cannot consistently deliver the goods that women want. And they will have to deal with these issues and not pawn the problem off to third party vendors like they do with so many products they offer online. This company sells cockroaches.

And this all is not just the concern of a backlash against Amazon once people realize that Amazon threatens their way of life. They are not the employer of choice. They are way down the line in employer choice. The Daily Kos ran an article a year ago about how Amazon is the very worst employer there is. You cannot have this sort of backlash when you are in the grocery business.

The Amazon warehouses have nasty conditions and the overall work culture is deemed to be ‘brutal’ A number of Amazon employees have taken to online review portals to complain about their situation. These claims have attracted an enormous amount of attention and several dailies have talked about this issue. Most employees said that the work conditions are reportedly extremely bad and Amazon’s only agenda is to squeeze out money from its employees. The employees are evaluated on a regular basis and the poor performers are fired. The workers insisted that they are never given warnings and are always kept on a tight leash. Therefore, the world’s most trusted brand name offers no job security. Amazon has ridiculously high standards and takes immense pride in it. 
Why would anyone buy any grocery item where there are "nasty conditions". It has been said by reviewers that warehouses at Amazon are filthy. That is not something that is conducive to grocery handling.

And as far as working conditions are concerned, Amazon has been likened to a Southern Plantation. It gives the old phrase, wage slaves a whole new vibe.

Amazon is trusted by customers, or at least a large majority of customers. However, it risks that online advantage of flying under the radar.

Once people see how Amazon operates in public, investors and customers will throw a fit. The retailer will be exposed. It is not ready to be exposed based upon its current business model. There are major risks for Amazon wading into the public eye without entertaining some major changes.


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