July 1st was a dark day at my house because that's when Amazon started charging sales tax to Texas residents. Now instead of automatically knowing that the Amazon price was likely lower, I have to consider tax in my comparisons. I'm not hitting that "add to cart" button quite so fast. Why would Amazon surrender in its well publicized battle with states to collect tax? Farhad Manjoo over at Slate wrote an article that provides a logical explanation.
It seems that Amazon gave in on taxes in order to build more warehouses closer to their customers. They may lose their tax advantage, but they will gain the ability to offer next day shipping. I'm often impressed how fast Netflix delivers DVDs using local warehouses, so I guess Amazon is planning the same strategy, complete with Kiva robots to keep the warehouses efficient. The big advantage for physical stores has always been instant gratification, but that may be changing.
The second change at my house stems from my wife. A few months back I gave her a subscription to BirchBox and she loves it. For $10 a month, they ship her a monthly sample of high-end beauty products. The cost basically covers shipping and she gets lots of free samples. This morning my usual soap was replaced by a delicious smelling orange sphere which I assume was soap since it was in the soap dish. By itself that's fine, but the problem is she really likes some of the items, and of course she orders more. Well played, BirchBox.
Lastly, the HEB grocery store down the street decided to remodel. That meant that everything was a mess and my wife couldn't find the things she usually buys. As punishment for complaining about the lack of ice cream in the house, I got to accompany her to a HEB Plus (think warehouse) to finish her list. Not being the shopper in the family, I was quite overwhelmed. To help ensure this form of torture would not be repeated, I pointed out all the marketing tricks throughout the store. My wife could care less why flowers are at the entrance, why certain brands are on endcaps, and why the milk is always at the back of the store. Mission accomplished.
Have your own tales of retail? Share stories in the comments.